Let it snow, man

Members of Redbridge Brass Band at Epping Ongar RailwayMembers of Redbridge Brass Band at Epping Ongar Railway

Ahead of a performance of The Snowman soundtrack to accompany a local screening of the festive film this month, Redbridge Brass Band member Dave Wallace recalls a few other cool moments for the group.

Yikes! Snow is forecast for Wanstead this month! Relax everyone, it's in the shape of the animated film classic The Snowman, being screened in Aldersbrook with Redbridge Brass Band playing the film's enchanting soundtrack live.

That magical sound of a brass band is something many people associate with the festive season. It conjures up the aroma of hot chestnuts, tinsel, fairy-lights, carols and, of course, Christmas shopping trips, together with that big drop in temperature!

One of my early memories from when I was in The Salvation Army was walking the streets of Redbridge playing carols under lamp posts while people stood on their doorsteps to listen. The weather was generally freezing then too, as I recall, and often in treacherously slippery conditions made worse by having to hold a lump of ice-cold metal to my face – which in my case was, and still is, a trombone.

Times have certainly changed, with Redbridge Brass Band moving from the streets of Ilford to the Olympic Stadium and the floodlights of a West Ham United Christmas fixture. Playing in the stadium through the house speakers gave a sensational sound swirling all around us. You could have half-expected Santa to come flying in to the arena with a train of reindeer leading the way and a glitter trail behind! Well, he didn't turn up, but we were each provided with Christmas jumpers specially made for the club, which gave the band a festive – and rather cuddly – appearance. This was all further enhanced by the bubble-making machines on full tilt.

The wheels of the bus do indeed go round-and-round but so do the wheels on those classic steam trains that used to grace our railways. Well, I'm far too young to remember actual steam travel, so it was a complete delight to learn that Santa will be using a steam locomotive this year to help speed up deliveries. This means, of course, I get to hang about at Epping Ongar Railway with the other guys from the band to provide that special Christmassy sound while Santa delights the children on his express in December.

For some reason, playing in a brass band also means having to do stuff in cold weather, and for quite a few years, I've been competing in Skegness at one of the biggest contests in banding, which always seems to be in January. It has often been snowing by then, and the spectacularly vast beaches look bleak and beautiful, even though there's a biting off-shore wind that makes your face ache. I'll be going again next month with Redbridge Brass Band, hoping to repeat the magnificent victory we had there a few years ago. If we are unlucky, I'm sure there will be snow at least.

Redbridge Brass Band will be performing The Snowman soundtrack alongside a screening of the film at St Gabriel's Church in Aldersbrook on 8 December at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm (adults: £12; under-15s: £6; under-3s: free). Visit wavidi.co/snowman


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