Wind Orchestra Helps City Celebrate Christmas

Hearing sounds of the season can help anyone with Christmas spirit, and the Glasgow Wind Band lent a helping hand on 16th December when they held their annual Christmas Cracker concert at Hyndland Parish Church in Glasgow’s West End. Band member Gareth Cole says they enjoy holding the concerts “to entertain family and friends,” and that all proceeds help the band offset running costs.

Formed in 1972 as The Glasgow Youth Band, the ensemble began as a way for students and adults in the community to enjoy the benefits of participating in a “symphonic wind band of the very highest caliber.” Forty-two years later this still stands as the band’s mission statement. The group was originally supported by Glasgow City council’s Community Education department, but they now run on concert revenue and membership dues.

Around 60 musicians from a variety of professions and backgrounds currently make up the orchestra. Members range in age from 16 to the mid-40s, but the majority are in their 20s. The band regularly plays at music festivals and has seen much success at the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE) and the National Concert Band Festival (NCBF).

Seen as “one of Europe’s finest symphonic wind ensembles,” the Glasgow Wind Band has amassed 10 Gold Awards at the BASBWE Scottish festival, and won the Platinum Award at the National Festival in 2010. Their regular concert slate includes a performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama every March, while they’ve also played at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and for Her Majesty The Queen during her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Designed by Glasgow architect William Leiper, Hyndland Parish Church was completed in 1887 for £11,000, and the medieval style church was one of the first to install electric lights in 1908. The building features a collection of over a dozen stained glass windows by different artisans which were put in place between 1889 and 1999. An extensive restoration and refurbishment project concluded after two years in 1997 with help from Historic Scotland, the congregation, and community.

Cole says that the event makes for a memorable time. “Our conductor’s jokes get worse every year,” he relays, “and the audience participation pieces are always fun, too.” They promoted the concert with online advertising, printed flyers, and word of mouth. Cole admits that organising concerts well ahead of time can be difficult for the group since “we all do this in our spare time,” but notes that that is the best course to a good outcome on the night of any event.