Banding Together for a Farewell Concert


It was an exciting and moving concert that marked John Reid’s final appearance on UVic’s Farquhar stage. Special guests, dedicated songs and an undeniable energy gave the Cross Campus Band Concert a feeling of something out of the ordinary.

As our Head of School commented in his opening address, “John has always shied away from the spotlight, preferring it shine on his students instead. I hope that tonight, he will allow us to shine it on him occasionally.”

It was Ian Farish, our Middle School band director, who shared some of John’s career highlights with the crowd, such as his on stage appearances with ABBA and Celine Dion, and who spoke of working with John as one of the best aspects of his own career at SMUS.

Ian Farish taught his students to play “Edinburgh Castle” in just one month, so that they would be able to perform it as a tribute to John, who happens to hail from Scotland. Staff members Tony Cordle, Bill Buckingham and Rob Common took the stage to sing, bagpipe and play the flute – all talents they have lent to John’s concerts at one point or another during his tenure at SMUS.

The man himself celebrated by having his band perform “My Way” (made famous by Frank Sinatra) – a piece of music he picked up while on tour in Amsterdam – as a finale for the Senior Concert Band. A fitting choice, both in style and lyrics, as John has certainly done music “his way” over his long career. His final concert showcased his playful yet challenging musical tastes (“Mama Mia” and “Hallelujah” are popular songs not often heard in brass) and his faith in his students’ talent.

Over many years, we have been fortunate to have John at the helm of our band program, because he has sparked a love or interest in music in many students (for evidence, look no further than the alumni who turned out for his final show) and in doing so, made an indelible mark on our music program and on our entire community.

Fittingly, for his last number, John was joined by Emily Reid, an alumnus who has gone on to do such great things in music, having spent three years in Nashville studying the music business and who is now touring to support her new album as a full-time musician. Alumni like Emily showcase John’s true legacy at the school, which is the generations of musicians and music-lovers he has sent out into the wider world.

West Coast Return
by Emily Reid ’09
I was simply in awe of the incredible arrangement Mr. Farish had put together and the way in which the students performed it with such passion and precision. It was a true honor, and I’m still revisiting the moment in my head– and keep wondering if it will ever be topped! The students at SMUS possess such a high level of talent, and it was so refreshing to return back and be recharged by their energy and skill. Everyone played brilliantly and the five background singers were outstanding – what I would do to hire them and take them on the road full time! All five have very bright futures ahead of them.

Find Emily’s music online at her website and iTunes. An unreasonable number of photos from the concert are available on the photo gallery. A video recording of the concert is available below (parts 1, 2 and 3):


  1. So many happy memories of music concerts at SMUS flood my mind! Some of my most cherished times at the school were spent rehearsing with John for those performances, or on the stage itself, my eyes on his baton. That, or dressed up like a cowboy doing a jig with classmate Mark Featherstonhaugh in front of a choir singing a song from Oklahoma! You know, a little of this a little of that. Congratulations on your final concert in front of the SMUS ensembles, John! I wish I could have been there to see it.


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