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2023 Stettler Night of the Bands marks end of an era

The evening marked the final performance of long-time Wm. E. Hay band teacher
Eric Rahn looks to the crowd at the conclusion of his final Night of the Bands performance before his retirement. (Carson Ellis photo)

By Carson Ellis

For the Independent

On Mon, June 12, parents and former residents gathered to watch a special performance of the annual Night of the Bands.

The annual showcase of the Wm. E. Hay Secondary Campus School band program marks the final performance under the direction of a long-time teacher and conductor Eric Rahn. Rahn has been the school band conductor for 30 years and was the driving force behind the yearly performance that has become a local tradition.

The performance began with the Grade 7,8 and 9 band performing two songs. Afterwards, the senior classes took to the stage to perform 2 more pieces.

Rahn took time between each song to explain the song. He also commented on his experiences with the various classes. He noted the older grades attended early morning band classes and expressed his appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the performers, many of who took the program from start to finish.

Before coming to Stettler in 1993, Eric Rahn attended the University of Alberta. Upon completing his courses, he spent several months as a substitute staff member for Edmonton Public Schools. In February of 1993, Rahn took a teaching position with the Stettler School. His position included band teacher and instructor for the school’s music program.

Rahn says that when he first came to Stettler, the band program ended in Grade 9. However, after a short time, the program was extended to the senior high school as well. Rahn says that then-junior high principal Foug McDavid supported his efforts to expand the band programs to the older grades.

In addition to his involvement in education in the community, Rahn has also been involved in the community in many other ways. He has provided live music for theatre productions such as The Music Man, and starred as Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof, along with a variety of other roles and musical performances with local theatre. He has also been a member of The Jazz Guys and a variety of other community involvements over the years.

After 30 years of teaching and directing band classes, Rahn has decided to retire. He says that he can’t say enough about the students he has taught or the supportive community he has worked in for all these years.

After the evening’s finale, several former students from the many years of Rahn’s time as teacher and conductor slipped onto the stage from the back of the theatre. Rahn was surprised to see the students but was grateful for their presence. A representative of the group thanked Rahn for his years of teaching and his influence on their lives.

Eric Rahn conducts the senior high band. (Carson Ellis photo)
Eric Rahn conducts the Grade 7/8/9 band. (Carson Ellis photo)
Eric Rahn addresses the crowd between songs at Night of the Bands. (Carson Ellis photo)