About Us

The Midnight Blue Jazz Band is a “traditional” big band with 17 musicians plus one director. We are based in Calgary, Alberta and our repertoire spans a wide variety of styles — swing, jazz, blues, latin, funk, classic rock — whatever fits the occasion. We play at business/community parties and public events.

Midnight Blue Jazz Band was formed in Calgary in September of 2001. The founding members were friends and musicians – Dave Hiley, Sheilah Hammerton and Deb Watson. The music director was Richard Condon who was the music teacher at Bowness High School for numerous years. Weekly rehearsals were held at Bowness High School. Other musicians were subsequently invited to join the group to round out the 17 member ensemble and our current Artistic Director is Lael Johnston. In 2005 the rehearsals were relocated to St. Joseph’s School, where they are held to this day. In addition to weekly rehearsals, the band plays at many community events such as those listed on this webpage.

In January, 2013, the Midnight Blue Jazz Society was established as a Board governed non-profit society. The objects of the society are:

  • To promote and develop arts and culture in Calgary and surrounding areas through live performances at both public and private functions.
  • To support Calgary and area community associations by performances at community-sponsored events.
  • To support Calgary and area school communities and band programs by sponsorship and concerts at schools and in their local communities.
  • To contribute to Calgary’s non-profit organizations by proposing performances at their fund- raising activities.
  • To provide a jazz music education program that meets the needs of the membership of the Society through weekly rehearsals and instruction by a certified music instructor.

This not-for-profit adult community organization is funded and operated by and for its members. Its growth and success depends on member support and participation. Our Society includes the Members, the Board of Directors and its Artistic Director.

Midnight Blue Jazz Society strives to provide a learning and teaching process, top quality music education to maintain a standard of excellence, peer encouragement in a supportive environment and the opportunity to perform in public.

Director Lael Johnston

Lael Johnston is a percussionist, a conductor, and an educator. After completing a Masters of Music Performance from the University of Alberta, Lael spent several years touring North America with a variety of musical groups, covering a spectrum of musical styles. Returning to Calgary to pursue a career in education, he has spent the past decade with the Rocky View School Division as the Music Director at Chestermere High School. His current program includes Concert Jazz Bands, Jazz Ensembles and a Drumline. These groups have received international recognition with numerous tours including The Harrogate Youth Festival in England and the Wurzburg Festival in Germany.

Lael continues to maintain a busy performance career as a freelance percussionist and is building a reputation as an adjudicator, clinician and public speaker.



Amy Floyd – Tenor
Dave Philpot – Tenor
Karen Heaton – Alto
Deb Watson – Alto
Emily Kuss – Bari


Sheilah Hammerton
Colleen Crosweller
Myrna Micheli
Shelley Langdon


Gerry Hopfner
John Watson
Sarah King
Paul Howard


Cherilyn Michaels – Piano
Jag Kohli – Guitar
Ihor Kolomijchuk – Bass
Barry How – Drums


Larissa Hopfner