BBC Philharmonic principal viola Steven Burnard steps into the soloist spotlight with the Westmorland Orchestra on Saturday (December 2, 7.30pm).

The gifted and distinguished musician takes centre stage in Berlioz’s delightful Harold in Italy, regarded as a unique work - a symphony with a solo viola part.

The story goes that the famed virtuoso violinist (and viola player) Paganini asked Berlioz to compose a piece for viola after he obtained a Stradivarius viola, saying he had no music to play and that Berlioz was the only person he would trust for the task. Paganini was so pleased with the result that he kissed Berlioz’s hand on stage after the concert had finished.

Steven has been the principal viola of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, as well as being the principal of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 11 years. During that time he has performed much solo repertoire with orchestra, including concertos by Walton, Bartók and Martin?. The composer Michael Berkeley wrote a piece for Steven and cor anglais player Celia Craig, which they recorded for the label Chandos. Steven has enjoyed an active involvement in chamber music, having worked with several string quartets and trios.

Teaching is also an important part of his work.

Saturday's much awaited concert by the 'wonderful Westmorland' at Kendal Leisure Centre's Westmorland Hall also features Debussy’s atmospheric Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Dukas’s popular and cheeky The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and a suite from Massenet’s ballet Le Cid that includes a variety of dances from different regions of Spain.

Debussy’s evocative and atmospheric Prelude is one of his most famous works, partly because of its ground-breaking nature: the conductor and composer Pierre Boulez considered it to have "brought new breath to the art of music."

Meanwhile, Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice will be familiar to many in the audience as it featured in the Disney film Fantasia. An entertaining work which showcases the Westmorland's outstanding bassoonists, the piece follows the story of a magician’s apprentice whose experiments with magic get a little out of hand.

As usual the popular ensemble will be under the expert baton of revered conductor Richard Howarth and led by Pamela Redman, one of the region's best known and highly respected violinists.

Tickets are available from orchestra members, Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre or at the door.