An Oak Bay News photo launched Gerhard Herndler’s accordion from under his bed, back in his head.
The Oak Bay musician saw the newspaper photo of the Monterey Concert Band in advance of a recreation centre performance and recognized two people.
He figured “It’s a concert band, why would they want an accordion?” But he asked his friends to inquire anyway and was stunned by the “yes” reply.
“We quickly found out there was no music for the accordion, but I could play flute and oboe parts.”
However, where a flautist will move fingers on the buttons quickly, there’s little shifting to hit new octaves. With the accordion, Herndler has to rush up and down the keyboard.
“It meant I had to brush up on my skills,” he said with a laugh.
It wasn’t the first time his accordion was freed from banishment under the bed. An instrument he recalls his father playing, Herndler started taking lessons soon after coming to Canada as a nine-year-old in Toronto. Once the Beatles arrived on the scene, he added guitar lessons at Fred Roden’s Record Corral. Learning Herndler played accordion, Roden, who had a country and western show, took him to his first nervous gig.
In high school he added clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor sax to his repertoire and the accordion retreated under the bed. There it stayed as he married, raised a family and moved west. A small newspaper announcement of an accordion club forming drew the instrument back into daylight. “I took my rusty playing along to one of the first meetings, soon became an organizer there,” he said.
The Victoria Accordion Band played many venues for a few years but when Herndler hurt his shoulder, back under the bed the accordion went. He bought and renovated a house with the instrument still tucked away, finally trading it for a smaller one – it fit better under the bed.
That’s when he saw the Oak Bay News article.
“Two years later, I am the principal oboe accordionist and the band tunes to me,” he said.
The concert band rehearses each Thursday afternoon at Monterey and has performed a few shows at the centre with smaller groups performing around Greater Victoria. Performances this spring include the Moss Street Market, Berwick House Royal Oak and Eric Martin Pavilion theatre.
“We’re always looking for players and we’d love to perform more,” Herndler said.
Conductor Joe Hatherill leads and develops the band.
“We have a professional leader. … A band without a conductor is like a boat without a pilot,” he said. “Conducting is a very special skill.”
Since relocating to Victoria in 2009 Hatherill has performed with the Swiftsure Big Band, Cowichan Consort, the Savvy 6 and the Dream-a-Littles. His current projects are Dave Lang and the Twin Otters, the Monterey Concert Band, Queenie and the Groove Kings and the Groovin’ Hard Jazz Band.
The band that formed in the fall of 2013 now has 28 members and a range of music including Broadway tunes, movie themes, classical pieces, marches and jazz, as well as traditional concert band works. Rehearsals are Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. at Monterey Centre, 1442 Monterey Ave. For information about joining, or having the band perform, email MontereyConcertBand@gmail.com.