By Adam Bunch
ANOTHER NO. 1 FOR HANK SNOW
It was originally written by an Australian; the 1950s country song “I’ve Been Everywhere” was penned by singer-songwriter Geoff Mack. It was a travelling tune listing off a cornucopia of cities, towns and villages from around Mack’s homeland of Australia. Not long after it was first released, the song caught the attention of one of the biggest country music stars in the entire world: Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Hank Snow.
Snow decided to record his own version of the tune. But first, he rewrote it a bit. This time, instead of verses about Australian places, it would feature places from North America. Instead of singing about spots such as Mooloolaba, Wallumbilla, Woolloomooloo, Tuggerawong and Yeerongpilly, he’d sing about places like Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Waterloo and Fond du Lac.
It proved to be a very good decision. Snow’s version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” was a smash hit produced by the legendary Chet Atkins. During this week in 1962, it was sitting right at the very top of the Billboard country chart.
“I’VE BEEN EVERYWHERE” BY HANK SNOW
THE BIRTH OF THREE WESTERN CANADIAN SYMPHONIES
Three of Western Canada’s biggest cities can trace the roots of their symphony orchestras back to this particular week in history.
The oldest is the one that started in Vancouver all the way back during this week in 1897 – 117 years ago – when 23 musicians teamed up with a conductor to play classical music at an old theatrical venue called Dunn Hall. They called themselves the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, but they didn’t last very long: the group disbanded after only three performances. The modern version of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra wouldn’t be permanently revived until 1930 and, before long, it had established itself as one of the most successful groups in Canada. By the end of the 1970s, the VSO had more subscribers than any other symphony orchestra on the entire continent. As recently as 2008, the VSO walked away with the JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year.
By the time Vancouver’s was back up and running, the other two orchestras were well under way. It was during this week in 1913 that the Calgary Symphony Orchestra gave its very first performance. Decades later, it would merge with the Alberta Philharmonic to become the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Today, 101 years after that first performance, it’s still going strong.
The youngest of the three is the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, which turns 94 years old this week. It started off as a community orchestra in 1910, was suspended in the ’20s and revived in the ’50s. In the time since, Edmonton’s orchestra hasn’t been afraid to crossover and collaborate with stars from the world of pop music. It’s performed with everyone from Frank Zappa to Ben Folds and with Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees including k.d. lang and Tom Cochrane. In 1976, the ESO even teamed up with Procol Harum to record Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The album’s biggest single, “Conquistador,” became the very first “classical” recording ever to go Platinum.
“CONQUISTADOR” BY PROCOL HARUM AND THE EDMONTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA