Magee Secondary School, located in the southwest Vancouver neighbourhood of Kerrisdale, began in 1912 with nine students in a small, upstairs room in the four room Eburne Superior School in Marpole, the site of the present day David Lloyd George School. The fall of 1913 saw the school move to its present day site at the corner of 49th Avenue and Maple street. At first Magee served all of Point Grey and Kerrisdale from Marpole, Shaughnessy and Dunbar. In total, twelve thousand one hundred and seventy seven acres of the municipality were served by the one high school, and during its first year at the present site, thirty-one students were in attendance. The next school in the area was built in 1917 when the eight room Point Grey opened. During the world wide Influenza Epidemic of 1918, Magee was closed while it served as a temporary hospital. At the end of the crisis, the student population grew to 183 students and the first large wing was built. In October of 2000, a modern, completely “new” Magee was officially opened. As a result of the ongoing collaborative efforts of teachers, students, and administrators, Magee continues to be an outstanding school. The school motto is: Esse Quam Videri – To Be – Rather than to seem to be. The school currently supports approximately 1250 students, of which over 450 are involved in the music department. One of Magee’s most famous music grads is Vancouver bandleader Dal Richards, who is still performing at the age of 92!
The Magee Music Department has maintained a tradition of excellence in music for the past 35 years since its revitalization in the mid 1970s by band director Mr. Peter Stigings and choral director Mr. John Trepp. The music department is currently under the leadership and inspiration of band director Christopher Haas and choral/strings director Greg Quan. You can read more about them on the Music Staff page.
The Magee Band department currently consists of over 300 students involved in 4 levels of concert band: Grade 8 Band (mixed advanced and beginners), Grade 9 Band, two levels of senior concert band: Symphonic Band (grade 10 students) and Wind Ensemble (auditioned grades 11 & 12). When numbers warrant it, we offer a class of beginning band 8. There are also two jazz bands: Junior and Senior. If students wish to be in jazz band, they must also be signed up for concert band. Many students play one instrument in concert band and a second instrument in jazz band. Depending on the year, there are small, chamber ensembles such as jazz combos, brass choir, flute choir, clarinet choir and sax ensemble.
The Choral department consists of the 150-voice Concert Choir, an auditioned Chamber, a Ladies’ Choir, Men’s Choir, and 2 vocal ensembles. The award winning Magee Chamber Choir is the premier auditioned musical ensemble at Magee and is composed of senior level students dedicated to creating music at a very high level of choral artistry in a variety of styles and genres. Each member of the group is involved in at least 3 other ensembles including the large 150 voice concert choir, a small vocal ensemble, and either a men’s or ladies ensemble. The members of this choir are devoted to the pursuit of musical excellence through the learning, understanding, and performance of quality repertoire and the sharing of musical joy, for it is through sharing music with one and other that we are able to grow as musicians and as people; making connections in our own lives, and with others.
The Magee Strings Ensemble is made up of 20 talented members from grades 9 through 12. These senior members are part of a larger 40 piece String Orchestra who rehearse for 80 minutes 3 hours a week. Working on a vast array of repertoire, they have been challenged by transcriptions of major works, as well as pieces with varied styles and tempi. From classics from the baroque, romantic, and even further back, to opera choruses, ballet, and modern styles, this group has no boundaries in its drive to continually improve and to explore all facets of music. The group is very diverse in the member’s experience; we have students who have played for 2 years and some who have played for 14. They have built a special kinship of mentoring and encouraging each other. The one thing about this ensemble is that whatever they are playing, whether it is a sweet fluid line that makes the heart quiver, or a bouncing melody to get your toes tapping, they always play with energy and passion. And because of this, in the recent years they have continuously grown in numbers as well as musicality and matured as a group and as young people. They love to share their music with others!
Magee groups have thrilled audience throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Japan. In 2009, the Magee students had a wonderful experience traveling to four beautiful cities in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka. They were honoured to have the opportunity to meet and share music with the Japanese people, including the teachers and students of St. Mary’s International School, Ristumeikan and Poole Gakuin. They also had the unique opportunity to sing in the Peace Memorial Cathedral in Hiroshima. In March, 2011, the Magee Wind Ensemble, Chamber Choir, and Senior Strings travelled to Europe for 11 days to perform in Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary. Along the way they visited some of the major cities of musical and historical importance and played and sang in such enviable venues as the San Marco Basilica in Venice, Italy, the Dom Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria, and the Wieskirche Cathedral in Bavaria, Germany. In 2013, we are in the planning stages of Spain as our large tour destination.
The Magee music program also receives extensive support from the school administration, the PAC, and our parent organization: The Magee Music Society. The Music Society raises over $10,000 annually to help support the following aspects of the music department: scholarships, festival fees, master class clinicians, instrument and equipment purchases, professional development, guest conductors, support for needy students to go on tour, uniforms and special events such as receptions for visiting ensembles and senior citizens.