CBE teacher honoured as one of the finest band directors in North America

Brian Thorlacius, band teacher at Queen Elizabeth High School, was recently inducted into the John Phillip Sousa Legion of Honor for his contributions and dedication to bands and band music.

Established in 1989, the John Phillip Sousa Legion of Honor Award recognizes and celebrates outstanding band directors who have taught for a minimum of 15 years, supported band programs of excellent musical quality and contributed significantly to the profession through a commitment to student band music and band performances.

Each year, eight noteworthy band directors from all over the world are inducted into the Legion. Thorlacius is one of only eight Canadians to be recognized with this honour in the past 12 years.

On being recognized for this award, Thorlacius says it was entirely unexpected. “I was quite surprised, knowing how many great band directors there are and how many of them share my passion.” He added, “It’s so nice to be recognized by your colleagues and those in your industry.”

It was his own Grade 6 band director, Vondis Miller, who first introduced him to the sound of music by inviting him to conduct a class music concert. He now identifies that experience as a monumental one. He says it was at that time that he knew “I want to teach band. I have a passion for it.”

The most rewarding part of his work is the opportunity to instil that same love of music in his students. “Recognizing that passion and instilling it in your kids… when they are performing and you can see the excitement in their faces, that’s the reward I see.”  

His passion for music extends beyond teaching and includes serving on the Alberta Band Association’s Executive Board, and as an active committee member, representing the CBE, in the development of provincially approved music courses.

Thorlacius says he has been humbled to be the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including the 1997 Tommy Banks Award from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the 2009 Vondis Miller Legacy Award, awarded by the Alberta Band Association. In addition to these acknowledgments, he has led the Queen Elizabeth High School bands to impressive ratings over the course of the 22 years he has been teaching at the school.

As a band teacher who appreciates the sum of all the orchestra’s parts, Thorlacius himself plays the saxophone, clarinet and flute in several jazz groups. He says, “I enjoy working in this industry because I enjoy working with people who are passionate about their jobs.”


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Last Modified: September 15, 2011