Teenage Mitchell receives Stratford Concert Band’s Mervyn Doerr Scholarship


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Julia Dowson would like to play with the Stratford Concert Band.

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Until she gets the chance, the 16-year-old from Mitchell will continue to build her musical resume as the recipient of the Mervyn Doerr Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded by the Band to a musician who demonstrates outstanding dedication and musical acumen among high school seniors in the Stratford area, and to honor the memory of Doerr, a veteran of the Navy who played trombone in the band of the Royal Canadian Legion which in 1992 was renamed the Stratford Concert Band.

“I was very shocked when I got the call about this and very happy to have been recognized for what I wrote,” Dowson said.

In her application, Dowson wrote that performing in musical ensembles changed her life “in the best way” and pushed her to be outgoing.

“I just liked being in a band in general, so it was fun to be able to play music with everyone,” she said. “You bond better with your friends and miss school a bit.”

Dowson’s introduction to music came when she was in 2nd grade and started playing the piano, just like her grandparents. This lasted until Grade 8, but she learned the trombone a year earlier as part of Mitchell District High School’s Grade 7 and 8 band thanks to the encouragement of her teacher, who was also a member of the Stratford Concert. Band.

Dowson switched to tuba and then bassoon once she moved to Stratford District High School and joined the symphony band in year 9. She was section leader for low winds (baritone, saxophone, bass, clarinet and bassoon) and this year filled in the bass part for a jazz band by stepping up and playing the bassoon, an instrument she called ” very different” because of its technical elements.

“It was…more of a challenge, so I felt like I had to work harder for it, which I liked,” she said. “I was so involved in music and I want to continue through college and maybe beyond.”

Dowson will attend McMaster University in the fall and study engineering. She might wait a year before joining the school band while she studies the books, but she wants to make her Stratford Concert Band debut in the near future.

“I think it would be a fun extra summer thing to do, to be able to play again,” she said. “I think it’s really fun and I like to listen to the band too.”

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