Bande de la Cité

Bande de la Cité. Known also as the Musique de la Cité, Fanfare de la Cité, or Montreal City Band, this concert band was formed in Montreal about 1870. Little is known of its activities prior to the arrival of Ernest Lavigne as director in 1876, when the ensemble won a grand prize at a competition in Philadelphia marking the centenary of US independence. In June 1878 at the Victoria Rink the band was featured at the Montreal Musical Jubilee, a competition in which some 20 Canadian, US, and English civilian and military bands participated. In 1879, or a little later, Lavigne and his musicians inaugurated free open-air concerts at the Viger Gardens and boat excursions 'under electric lights' on the St Lawrence River.

With the opening of Sohmer Park in 1889, Lavigne made the Montreal City Band its regular concert band. It gave two concerts daily during the summer. In 1890 it had 50 members, including Joseph Gagnier and Alexandre Laurendeau. In addition to its functions as the official band of the 65th regiment, it participated in such events as the arrival in Montreal of Emma Albani in March 1883 and in her three gala concerts at the Victoria rink in May 1890 in aid of Notre-Dame Hospital. Charles Lavallée conducted the ensemble on several occasions. Its repertoire consisted of marches, overtures, quadrilles, and medleys and included Lavigne's own quadrille Les Chevaux légers (E. Lavigne 1882) and his 13th Regiment March (ibid 1883). After Lavigne's death, in 1909, the ensemble survived briefly, but the players gradually dispersed into other playing activities.