By Toni Williams
Harry Bremner’s dedication and service to Ashburton Silver Band was recognised when he was awarded the Brass Band Association of New Zealand’s long service award.
His 50-year pin and certificate was presented by the band’s honorary president, mayor Donna Favel, at the Ashburton Silver Band’s annual general meeting on March 25.
His daughter Karen, of Christchurch, was present.
Harry, 82, has been with the Ashburton Silver Band for 53 years but he has had a long association with brass bands.
“Where has the time gone? I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he says.
He is the band’s conductor and continues to play cornet when required.
He can also play flugel, trumpet and violin.
He is trumpet player for the MSA Dance Band.
The Ashburton Silver Band has around 16 members of varying ages; from a teenager through to more mature bandsmen.
Harry’s musical abilities date back to his youth in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, where he started learning music at the age of seven; his grandfather taught him violin.
He entered the Kings Royal Hussars cavalry regiment as part of his national service at the age of 20 as a professional musician and learned to play the cornet.
He did two years before joining the Tullis Russell Mills Band playing the cornet and flugel.
He was with the band for six years.
It was an advertisement in the British Bandsmen magazine seeking bandsmen for New Zealand bands, specifically the Ashburton Silver Band, that saw him and his late wife, Agnes, (along with four year old Karen) take a leap and immigrate down under. Son, Colin, now in Australia, was born later in Ashburton.
The young family were not alone emigrating from the United Kingdom; four other bandsmen also applied to the advertisement and moved to Ashburton; three Englishmen, and one Welshman.
Harry and his family arrived in New Zealand on January 12, 1966.
He was 29.
As a carpenter/joiner/cabinet maker until he retired, Harry had no trouble being placed into work.
He went on to be one of the instigators, and carpenters, behind the building of the silver band’s band room on Cameron Street.
The building was started in June 1976 and officially opened in 1980.
He spent many hours working on it and kept a record of all the hours each individual put into the new building.
One of the many highlights of Harry’s band career in New Zealand, included being principal cornet player when the Ashburton Silver Band won the National Championship title in Dunedin, in 1978.
He was made a life member in 1980.
Other career highlights include playing in the Military Tattoo in London (1958), playing trumpet in the Messiah with the Londonderry String Orchestra in Northern Ireland (1958), playing with the French National Orchestra at the opening concert of the Edinburgh Festival (1962), playing Royal Albert Hall, London (1962) and member of Canterbury All Star Band to play opening of Christchurch Town Hall (Oct 20, 1972).