MANY of the region's music and theatre societies would come to a grinding halt but for the unswerving dedication and Herculean efforts that go on behind the scenes.
Off stage, legions of helpers and volunteers prop up these immensely valued organisations.
The Westmorland Youth Orchestra's next concert A Nordic Spring is coming up on April 1 at Ulverston's Coronation Hall, putting the spotlight on Nordic composers with works such as Sibelius’s Finlandia, Grieg’s Elegiac Melodies, Svendsen’s Romance for violin, plus others, including the first movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto.
However, this time orchestra manager David Boxford won't be hovering at the back of the hall, overseeing his well-drilled volunteer troops, greeting special guests, making sure that nothing is allowed to disrupt the making of music.
Last September, the indefatigable David turned 70 and decided to call time on his orchestral manoeuvres: “It had become a totally absorbing passion which wasn’t necessarily an entirely good thing," explained David. "It takes over your life and one thing leads to another. The time had come.”
The highly regarded youth orchestra is flourishing.
Each Friday evening, largely due to highly respected David's unstinting efforts, some 50-60 teenagers continue to turn out to practise at Kendal's Castle Street Centre.
For decades under the influential baton of conductor Noel Bertram; since 2011 directed by the equally inspirational and enthusiastic Roland Fudge, who had been associated with the youth ensemble for more than 30 years. At first invited to go along and boost the numbers in the first violins, which led to him becoming an important member of the WYO coaching team.
David is careful to share the credit for the happy state of the orchestra with the volunteers who help run it and particularly with musical director Roland. But there's little doubt that the initiative and most of the drive for the transformation of the past two decades has come from him.
Like many other forms of entertainment, the orchestra's performance is just the tip of the iceberg; hours and hours of painstaking effort has gone on before the curtain rises - from insurance to child protection, transport to music hire, laying out chairs to accounts, refreshments to fire drill, the amount of background work is simply huge.
A civil engineer who in earlier days worked on the M6, the Heysham power station and the Trident submarine shed at Barrow, David took over the WYO's reins in 1994 after quitting his professional career.
Perhaps his most notable achievement has been putting the orchestra on a sound financial basis. It has a Centenary Fund he launched and some generous legacies. “When I came in there was £314 in the bank,” he laughs. The annual budget then was £1,800, now it is £35,000, from players’ subscriptions, investment income, ticket sales, fundraising, grants and individual donations.
Today the WYO is a fully-fledged independent charity, in charge of its own destiny and protected from the vagaries of county council budgeting and government spending cuts.
The WYO has a large set of percussion and just about every other instrument in the orchestra. It has seven professional mentors who coach the sections through rehearsals and performances and bring in new blood from among their pupils. And now, for the first time, it has a paid administrator for one day a week.
Plus it has a full management committee of 12 volunteers. “A lot of parents think it just happens," continued David. "That’s key to the understanding of the whole thing, it would fall down immediately if the volunteers weren’t there.”
Led by Matthew Farren, soloists for WYO's Saturday, April 1 Coro concert (7.30pm) will be Alistair Burton, violin; Abigail Howie, trumpet; and Jack Mayer and Rosie Toms, tuba.
Welcome music will be provided by the WYO’s Jazz Group from 7pm.
Box office 01229-587140.