MusicFest Canada (Canadian Stage Band Festival 1972-86). Competition festival, established as the Canadian Stage Band Festival (CSBF) in Toronto in 1972 by Robert Richmond (founding president), Gary Wadsworth, and Paul Miner. A major force in the development of the stage band (an institutionally-based jazz 'big band') in Canadian high schools and universities, the CSBF added vocal and concert band components in 1981 and 1986 respectively. MusicFest Canada, introduced as of 1987, embraced the CSBF and what had come to be identified by 1986 as the Canadian Vocal Festival and Canadian Concert Band Festival.
National finals have been held in the spring (usually May) in Toronto (1973-7, 1984, 1989), Winnipeg (1978, 1990), Vancouver (1979, at Expo 86, and in 1991), Ottawa (1980, 1987), Edmonton (1981), Hamilton, Ont (1982), Calgary (1983, 1988), and Quebec City (1985). Regional competitions are held during the preceeding three months. In 1991, nearly 400,000 musicians participated in the preliminary events; some 8000 (in more than 350 stage and concert bands, jazz combos, and choral groups) proceeded to the finals.
Bands and choirs are classified according to age and adjudicated by noted Canadian and US professionals in the jazz, band, and choral fields. Winning ensembles are ranked according to gold, silver, and bronze; awards and scholarships are also presented.to individual musicians. Activities at the national finals have also included clinics and concerts, the latter offered over the years by the Boss Brass, Gary Burton, Canadian Brass, the Denny Christianson, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman big bands, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, Oscar Peterson, Quazz, UZEB, and others. The festival's closing concert of winning ensembles has been documented by TV specials produced for TV Ontario, the CBC, and in 1976, 1977 and annually beginning in 1980, CTV.
Richmond was succeeded as CSBF president by John Nikel in 1984, and Nikel by Allen S. Michalek in 1986. Jim Howard was appointed national co-ordinator in 1984 and executive director in 1985.