Didsbury High School band director, Kirk Wassmer, was named this year’s recipient of the I. Keith Mann/NAC Orchestra Outstanding Band Director Award.  

The award has been given to exceptional band directors from across Canada since 2002, in remembrance of Innisfail High School band director, Keith Mann.  

“To have my name added to the list of outstanding band directors is quite an honour,” said Wassmer. “I am well aware of Keith Mann’s legacy, so this means a lot.”  

Neil Yorke-Slader, Associate Director of MusicFest Canada, said, “Kirk has devoted 34 years as a music educator to helping students. In the last 23 at Didsbury High School, he has been recognized at the provincial level by the Alberta Band Association in 2019 with their Elkorn Award. Kirk gave his time and effort to support his music colleagues as a member for many years on the Alberta Band Association, including tenure as President.”  

Ally Crampton, a Grade 11 student, said seeing Wassmer receive the award in his last year of teaching was special.   

“We are so proud of him. When he started directing us [on the stage in Toronto] he lit right up. Seeing him do his thing was awesome,” she said.  

Crampton started learning how to play alto saxophone two years ago when she was placed in Wassmer’s band class.   

“I started at the bottom of my section, but by the end of Grade 9, I was feeling more confident. That’s thanks to Mr. Wassmer. He is so welcoming and makes you feel safe. I love going to band; Mr. Wassmer’s class lights up my day. Music will always be a big part of my life, and my experiences in the band have made my love for music go even deeper,” she said.