PVA Band


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Band Program Overview

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.

PVA Music is where students learn to be artists – exploring reading, writing, and expressing themselves through music to a variety of audiences. This class is only available at Central Memorial PVA, where wind, brass, percussion, vocal and string students study together and learn from each other – where our students provide the spark, and our faculty help them to access a vast network of artists and mentors locally and from across the continent that can help them to reach their dreams. They will study solo and small ensemble repertoire with leading musical artists in Calgary on their instrument, and use conceptual and technical skills on a variety of musical enrichment projects beyond their ensemble experience. Each student in PVA Music will also take part in at least one of the following ensembles. Check out the Vocal and the Strings  pages for more ensembles they could join as a secondary ensemble!

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.

The PVA Wind Ensemble is an advanced performing group that that pushes boundaries of technique and excellence, that tackles advanced repertoire, extended techniques, and interaction with leading composers and musical artists. This ensemble is flexible to suit the needs of the group, and will utilize all of the skills that PVA students acquire throughout their PVA experience. This ensemble is auditioned in September for limited numbers of students who meet a minimum standard of performance skills. 

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.

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 Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.

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Leadership in the Arts 35 / Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement)

All PVA students are enrolled in one of two courses; Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These programs of study allow PVA students to explore how they see themselves as artists and become more aware of the process involved in preparing for the marketing and business aspect of being a professional in the arts community.

Students will experience a variety of teacher-led assignments/activities as well as a number of student-directed online projects. PVA Music weaves the Leadership in the Arts curriculum (LitA) into our program during all three years of study. Through LitA experiences, students will learn not only how to act as professional musicians, but how to develop a desire to be lifelong participants in the musical fabric of our community. Students will be able to tailor their experience in LitA to their interests, from planning musical events, participating in festivals, or making promotional videos and social media content, to sitting on boards, participating in committees and writing grants.

Audition/Interview Requirements – Band

Auditions for Winds, Brass & Percussion

With the exception of students auditioning for Percussion, all PVA Band auditions will be held virtually.  If you are auditioning for percussion, please visit our Contact Us page and email Mr. Mailman to discuss whether you would prefer to audition virtually or at Central.

Auditions will  be comprised of three components: a prepared solo, technique, and an interview.  This is an opportunity for our music team to hear where the student is in their musical journey, get a sense of their coachability (are they willing to take risks, open to feedback, etc.), and assess which ensemble would provide the student with the most opportunity for success.

More importantly, this is an opportunity for the student to share their gifts and passion with us in a friendly, safe, and encouraging environment.

Note for percussionists/drummers: percussionists are versatile musicians that must play many instruments and styles.  Please prepare something from each category: mallets (xylophone), percussion (snare drum or timpani), drumset (optional, but required for students wanting to participate in jazz band).

Piano, guitar, bagpipes, etc.: while we would love to accommodate all instruments, it is not possible within our program.  If you are interested in PVA Music, we would be happy to discuss options in order for students to participate.

  1. Prepared Solos: students will demonstrate their ability to prepare and perform a piece of music that showcases their gifts and passions.

Winds, Brass

Please prepare a short solo (30 seconds to 1 minute, if your solo is longer choose a short section of it) that highlights your own personality as a musician. It could be a part of your band/orchestra music, or a solo specifically for your instrument. If you would like, you may prepare and use “Rhythm Etude #1” as your solo.


Mallets – Perform a melodic solo on xylophone (your choice, or select the C instrument version of the woodwind etude).

Percussion – Snare drum etude (provided, your choice of solo 1 or 2); timpani etude (provided – “Doubleheader”)

Drumset – demonstrate a drum solo that starts with a time pattern, goes into solo, then ends back in time.

  1. Technique: 
  • Perform the Eb, Ab, or F Major scale in as many octaves as you can (minimum one octave)
  • Sight-reading:  Read a simple 8 bar melody from sightreadingfactory.com
  1. Interview (parents/guardians included):

This is an opportunity for us to learn more about the student and family.  We will ask you questions about why the student is passionate about music, what their goals are, and why they want to be a part of the PVA program, as well as who they are as a person.  We will provide information about student and parent involvement in PVA and some of the expectations associated with participation in the program.  We will also answer any questions you might have.

PVA horns
PVA flutes

Our Teachers

staff-Massey, Greg

Greg Massey

Gregory Massey

Collaborative Pianist

Pianist and tenor Gregory Massey is a versatile musician who is trained in musical genres spanning from classical, to jazz, to rock. Gregory’s formal education includes completing a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, studies in jazz piano at Grant MacEwan College, and a year of graduate work at the University of Alberta’s main campus. Gregory also received his Grade 10 certificate in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Gregory is a skilled accompanist who works with singers and instrumentalists of all ages and abilities. The ability to perform in a variety of styles has opened many doors for Gregory, including being the lead pianist and keytar player in several Alberta based rock bands and being the Assistant Music Director at Living Spirit United Church. Gregory is currently living in Calgary, Alberta where he is an active teacher, director and accompanist.

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. He performs regularly as percussionist with Primetime Big Band, and Alberta Winds, and as Music Director of Cochrane Music Society’s Adult Concert and Jazz Bands. Adam 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 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 is a founder of 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 and has performed as The Queen in The Queen, The Bear, and The Bumblebee at the Banff Center and at the Bella Concert Hall, in the Mountain View Chamber Music Festival, in the Recital Series at the Lougheed House and completed a recital at 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 as Mrs. Henceforth and Telerina 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 ensemble. She has performed internationally at the Kurt Weill Festival in Berlin and Dessau, local performances in Yantai, 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. She works to empower students by building safe communities where students are able to engage fully in their art. At Central Memorial, Ms. Archer directs the String Orchestra program, co-conducts the Symphonic Band, and teaches advanced instrumental and vocal musicianship classes. As a musician, Ms. Archer played as a sectional cellist with the Symphony of the Kootenays, as well as currently performing with several local bands and ensembles in Calgary. She serves on the boards for the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education, and Calgary’s Land’s End Ensemble. Ms. Archer has been involved in 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. Katrina Archer grew up in Calgary as part of a musical family. As a child, she studied voice with renowned voice teacher and Canadian composer Roberta Stephen, and enjoyed dancing at her dad’s big band concerts and listening to her mom teach piano. Katrina went on to study saxophone and cello at the University of Calgary with saxophonist Jeremy Brown, and cellists Olena Kilchyk and Beth Root-Sandvoss. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education specializing in Secondary Education from U of C, 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.

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

Music students typically attend 1 – 3 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 students are required to complete either Leadership in the Arts 35 or Entrepreneurial Artist (Junior Achievement). These self-directed courses provide a combination of teacher-directed assignments/activities combined with student-directed and/or on-line projects. 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 during musicianship classes and at designated times.

Q:  Are all instrumental students considered PVA students?


Links for music students

2019 Music Parent Orientation

Click here to download in pdf format.

Music Parents' Association (CMMPA)

All parents of music students have automatic membership.
Visit our website for all the details.

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