PVA Band


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Band Program Overview

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The Music Program at Central Memorial High School has a rich history as one of the longest running music programs in Alberta. Central Memorial ensembles are recognized worldwide at festivals and contests, maintaining a world class standard of excellence.  Students who study a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument will explore many styles of music, and make meaningful connections between technique and artistry through performing and studying with renowned artists in their discipline. Performance ensembles, such as the PVA Wind Ensemble (PVAWE), Concert Band, and M@C Jazz Ensemble, perform locally, regionally, and when possible, internationally throughout the school year. All students are welcome to take part in the music program to join us in music making. PVA Music offers exciting and unique opportunities and access to world-class artists that further their musical experience.  All band ensembles are full-year, five-credit courses.

The PVA Music Program is where students learn to be artists, exploring musical literacy and expression through unique programming that is not found elsewhere in the city. The program focuses on the development of the individual musician, providing our students with the abilities, confidence, and opportunities to go wherever their musical journey takes them, for life.

PVA Band students have daily classes as a Wind Ensemble with Mr. Mailman, where they learn and reinforce musical development through technique and repertoire. This class includes all auditioned band students in Grades 10-12, where you  will find an environment of positive mentorship with like-minded and dedicated musicians. The PVA Band class is timetabled at the same time as PVA vocal and PVA strings to provide unique opportunities for students to collaborate on solo and chamber music performance, develop musical fluency literacy and creativity, and dive deep into their personal musical development.

The Concert Band has represented Central Memorial with performances at Provincial, National, and International festivals with cutting edge, exciting repertoire. All wind and percussion students can take part in this ensemble, with the co-requisite Music 10 course in the first semester of Grade 10.  Students are welcome to join this intermediate level ensemble and experience a high-caliber program that will challenge them throughout the year.

M@C Jazz Ensemble is an exceptional ensemble with traditional “Big Band” instrumentation. Many of western Canada’s finest jazz musicians are graduates of this program. This ensemble performs at a variety of functions during the school year, and will take an active part in Calgary’s Jazz community. Enrollment is open to all students by audition during the first week of the fall term.

Beginner Band is a new opportunity for students who have not had the opportunity to take a band class in Junior High or Middle school, and would like to learn a wind instrument for the first time. This class meets all year outside of the timetable.

Instrumental students may have the opportunity to perform with other PVA disciplines throughout the year.  They are strongly encouraged to enhance their musical development through private instruction, which is offered for an additional fee in partnership with Mount Royal Conservatory’s Advanced Performance Program and Chinook School of Music’s private lesson program.

Band, String & Vocal Events

Ticket purchasing information to these events will be available one month prior to the event start date

What's the best way to find out what life in PVA Music is like?
Ask a student!

Meet some of our students

How do you describe PVA Music?

How do we grow in PVA music?

Our Teachers

staff-Mailman, Adam

Katrina Archer

Adam Mailman

Band Director

Adam creates great leaders through music. He helps students of all ages around Alberta as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician to understand how they best can contribute to their ensemble. Mailman has recently been inducted into Phi Beta Mu, the North American Bandmasters Fraternity, for his work in community leadership, commissioning of new music, creative pedagogy, and support of other music teachers. He is a member of the selection committee for the Canadian Band Association’s Howard Cable Memorial Prize in Composition, and has commissioned new works for band, choir, and jazz every year since 2015. Mailman performs regularly as percussionist with Primetime Big Band, Alberta Winds, and as Music Director of Cochrane Music Society’s Adult Concert and Jazz Bands. Mailman holds a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary, and a Master’s of Curriculum design in Music Education from Acadia University.

staff-Hillestad, Amanda

Michelle Crimmins

Amanda Hillestad

Vocal/Choral Director

Amanda is an advocate for strong community leadership through the power and impact of music. She is a Calgary native and graduate of the first graduating year of the CMHS PVA Vocal program. Amanda has taught in the Calgary area for the past 9 years as a studio teacher and classroom teacher specializing in voice, choral music, instrumental music, and theory. She co-founded the Sherwood School Musical Theatre program as well as the GSA club at Sherwood School. She graduated from McGill University’s Classical Vocal Performance program as well as the University of Calgary’s Education program. She is an active performer in the community and has performed as The Queen in The Queen, The Bear, and The Bumblebee at the Banff Center as well as the Bella Concert Hall, in the Mountain View International Chamber Music Festival, in the Recital Series at the Lougheed House and performed at venues around the city such as the King Eddy. She has been seen in excerpts and roles with McGill Opera in Montreal, has participated in Opera Nuova in Edmonton and returned to work for Opera Nuova on tour in Isaiah Bell’s Mr. Moreover’s Magic. Amanda has also performed locally with the Calgary Arts Orchestra, VoiceScapes, Classical Revolution Calgary, the Bach Society, Cowtown Opera, Early Music Voices, and Prairie Peaks contemporary trio. She has performed internationally at the Kurt Weill Festival in Germany, local performances in China, and with Tibet World in Macleod Ganj, India. Amanda is incredibly passionate about the unique artist in all her students and is beyond excited to be a part of the PVA team.

staff-Archer, Katrina

Katrina Archer

Katrina Archer

Strings Director

Katrina believes firmly in the power of musical study to positively transform individuals, communities, and society. Her approach has been shaped by the international El Sistema movement, which exposes at-risk youth to intense musical study on an instrument as a means to create positive social change within a community. To that end, she has been a part of instructing Philadelphia’s “Play On Philly” program, as well as Calgary’s Multicultural Youth Orchestra. As a musician, Ms. Archer performed as a professional orchestral cellist in British Columbia before moving back to her hometown of Calgary to teach music in schools. At Central Memorial, Ms. Archer directs the Orchestra and Beginner Strings programs, and co-teaches the PVA music classes. She serves on the board for the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education, and is the Educational Advisor to the board for Chamber Fest West. Katrina holds a Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Secondary Education from The University of Calgary, and a Bachelor of Education from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick..

Band FAQ

Band Program FAQ

Q:  Are PVA music students required to take private lessons?

It is strongly recommended that PVA music students study privately with a professional instructor. This experience will facilitate strong foundational skills necessary in developing independence and confidence. Students will have a short series of private lessons each semester as part of their coursework in both PVA Band and PVA Intro, and it is encouraged to continue those lessons beyond the time provided to further develop your strengths.

Q:  What time commitment is required to be a PVA music student?

Music students typically attend one to three morning or after school rehearsals per week. In addition, Jazz Ensembles and Vocal Jazz meet either before or after school two or three times per week and those programs are by audition only. Music students perform at several concerts and events and tour each year. Tours take place in the province, within Canada, or internationally.

Q:  When do PVA music students take Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Art?

All PVA Music 30 students are required to complete Leadership in the Arts 35 in order to receive their Fine Arts PVA Certificate. This course is delivered in conjunction with PVA classes throughout your high school career, so that you have a full portfolio of work to prepare you for a life rich with music beyond high school, whether you choose to pursue music at post-secondary or not. Students will interview professional musicians, attend workshops and performances, develop a list of performance repertoire, study privately, develop a personal portfolio, and complete a final exit interview. These courses are not scheduled into the timetable, but updates and teacher-led content will occur throughout the courses.

Q:  Are all instrumental students considered PVA students?

Yes! PVA Intro courses and PVA Band, Voice, and Strings are all part of the PVA umbrella, as are all of our large ensembles. These are great opportunities to explore your art form. All students benefit from the opportunities provided at Central, they just get to choose how many experiences they want to work for!

PVA Music Alumni

Many graduates of the PVA music programs have gone on to post-secondary music programs or are currently pursuing professional careers. Alumni include:

Ambrose University

  • Joel Untinen

Berklee School of Music – Boston

  • Kimberley Auch

Brandon University – Brandon, Manitoba

  • Bryant Wahl-Perrin

Capilano College – Vancouver

  • Lauren Tivadar
  • Joel Viehweger
  • Hawley Miller

Grant McEwan University – Edmonton

  • Scott Snider
  • Yana Loo
  • Madi Allen

Juilliard School of Music

  • Hanna Kwon

McGill University  – Montreal

  • Greame Tofflemire

Mount Royal University

  • Jessica Jo
  • Chris Gardner
  • Andrew Smith
  • Alex Baum
  • Jeff Gammon
  • Emile Leger
  • Andrew Smith

Nimbus Recording Arts

  • Phenix Warren

Oklahoma City University

  • Victoria Erhardt (Musical Theatre)

Selkirk College 

  • Adrian Emond
  • Janelle Miller

University of British Columbia  

  • Esther Kim

University of Calgary

  • Katie Gavelin
  • Jocelyn Rama
  • Nicole Drescher
  • Cathy Billington

University of Lethbridge

  • Megan Commet
  • Nikita George
  • Eva Tonchova
  • Lauren Vomberg

University of New Brunswick 

  • Shannon Taylor

University of Ottawa

  • Fiona Ferguson

University of North Texas

  • Mitchell Jantzie

University of Toronto

  • Andrea Poon
  • Eve Garber

University of Victoria

  • Ethan Hill
  • Akesh Aheer
  • Gillian Newburn
  • Stuart Kinnear
  • Parker Jollife

Vancouver Island Community College

  • Ian Bertram

Viola University, Los Angeles

  • Joel Balzun (Composition)


  • Majo Gnitter

The music program at central was more than a class, it was a second home...

The staff were so welcoming and warm that students are able to have a close and long lasting relationship with them. Students spend a lot more time together than in other classes (especially on tour) and because music is very team orientated, strong friendships are quickly established. It is one of the only subjects where you spend three years growing up with the same teachers and students. After a full day of analysing texts and memorizing data sheets, it was a relief that I could go to the music room and do something I was very passionate about. More importantly however, do all of this with people that made me feel content and completely at home with.” 

testimonialsAdam Tran
2007 grad

“I really could write a novel on my experience with the Central band program but this will have to do…

Being a student in the CMHS music program is a rewarding and transformative experience. The program not only taught me what it is to be a good musician, but what it is to be a good person and a good friend. It taught me how to be responsible, how to demonstrate a positive attitude, and most importantly, how to laugh.

I feel very privileged to have been a student of the patient staff, a friend of the many talented kids, and an affiliate of the music program at Central. I am not the same person that walked into Room 101 on the first day of band class. And thank God for that.” 

testimonialsJulia Diamond
2007 grad

“This program provides unique opportunities to grow musically and all it asks for in return is a commitment of time and spirit.”

testimonialsSteve Glass
2006 grad