Burneside Brass spread festive cheer at Kendal Parish Church Charity Christmas Tree Festival

Burneside Brass is one of the region’s top musical outfits and for the 29 members of the popular prizewinning ensemble this is a favourite time of year.

Faced with a long list of Christmas fixtures they are happy to blow their own trumpets to raise brass for local charities and will be in full festive flow on Friday, December 20 (7.30pm) at Kendal Parish Church as part of the church’s Charity Christmas Tree Festival.

Juggling jobs and other responsibilities, the volunteer musicians’ gig list is in its teens performing yuletide concerts in the Lakes and north Lancashire with at venues ranging from halls, pubs, supermarkets, churches, hotels, a hospital and a care home to Morecambe’s Winter Gardens and Kendal’s Birdcage. Funds raised will benefit the band and St John’s Hospice.

Not all members are needed at each event allowing the non-professional or hobby players, aged between 20 and 90 years old, some time off during the busy schedule.

Westmerian-born baritone horn player Oliver Bateman, who has been with the band for over 10 years, is a partner and chartered surveyor at property firm Carter Jonas in Kendal. He explains the appeal of having a hobby that’s very different to his day time job as head of rural services and the infrastructure department.

“Whether it’s turning up for our weekly band practice or being part of a truly great performance such as John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol which is one of my favourite Christmas pieces, it’s great to have this musical outlet,” explains Oliver.

“For me it’s one of the best ways to unwind from work.”

Solo horn player Dave Higson was an Army musician and after a period of 17 years of not playing he joined Burneside Brass in January 2010. From Kendal, he is a paramedic based at Ambleside working for the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Dave describes how monies raised from the band’s performances at Christmas, and other times of the year, help to cover annual running costs which can be in the region of £5,000. This includes public liability insurance, instrument and music insurance, travel costs, entry fees for contests, instrument repair, uniform and music purchasing, the latter can cost up to £100 per piece of music.

“We try to aim to raise as much money as possible. This year we got off to great start with a highly successful coffee evening at Underbarrow Village Hall where we raised over £900.

“Whilst some of the money goes towards the running costs of the band we also fundraise for our academy band. This band is open to anyone, of any age, who wants to learn to play a brass instrument or is a lapsed player. Once they have achieved a certain standard they are offered a place in the main band. Without academy bands, brass bands would fade away. It’s vital to offer this entry route for free.”

For further information about the band telephone Stuart Bell 01539-720977.

As well as Friday night’s performance the band also plays on Saturday at the Birdcage, Kendal town centre (10am-3pm); Sunday at the Jolly Anglers, Burneside (4pm) and Monday, December 23, Castle Inn, Kendal (8pm-9.30pm).

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