CHESTER – The Chester Brass Band is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The year-long celebrations will kick-off May 28 with an afternoon of music at the Chester Area Middle School beginning at 2 p.m. in celebration, not only of their anniversary, but also the 50thanniversary of Bonny Lea Farm.
Along with the Chester Brass Band, other performers include Rachel MacLean, Mirth, Peter Parsons and Rose Deveau.
Entrance is through a free will offering with proceeds going back to both organizations.
Gail Lohnes, musician and chair of the band's 150th anniversary committee, said the relationship over the years with Bonny Lea Farm has been special.
"We've done things in partnership with Bonny Lea over the years and they are an absolute gem," she said. "We rehearsed there for a few years and we have done a few concerts there, and there's such a sense of community from both organizations."
This concert will be followed up by a bandstand concert and community celebration with the Chester Brass Band in Chester on July 2 – this also kicks-off the summer Chester bandstand series.
A brief history of the band was provided by Gail Lohnes, chair of the 150th celebration committee...
The Chester Brass Band started off as the Chester Cornet Band in 1872-1873 with a membership of local, amateur musicians whose surnames include Corkum, Hilchie, Hiltz, Hume, Morash, Nauss and Webber, as wll as many others.
The band was incorporated by an act of the provincial legislature in 1906, even before the village of Chester was incorporated, and continued to perform conintuously with the exception of the war years, when many of the members headed out to fight for the country.
One of the longest-serving band members was Harvey W. Nauss, who was a member from 1935 to 1986 and was its conductor for 24 of those years. Barbie Nauss, his daughter-in-law, remembered that he always carried a prayer in the pocket of his jacket if he would be called on to say a few words. His jacket is often displayed at concerts.
In 1981, another act of the legislature changed the name to the Chester Brass Band.
In the late 1970s and early '80s, band member Roger Aalders designed and led the drive to build a facility for the band which is located in Church Park, off Pig Loop Road.
In the 1980s, the band participated in North American Band Festivals held in the U.S. and in Toronto and was always a top-three finisher.
The band's repertoire includes classical works, marches, hymns, popular melodies and original works written or arranged specifically for brass band. The band also includes subgroups that include a Dixieland band, stage band and brass ensembles.
Band members come from throughout the South Shore, the valley and Halifax and beyond, led by conductor George Morrison who has led the band since 2000.
Morrison had a 49-year career with the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces, becoming the supervisor of music for the Canadian Forces worldwide. In 2018, he was chosen by the Nova Scotia Band Association to receive the first Distinguished Band Director's Award.
The band is a non-profit volunteer organization, funded by its membership, concert series and local patrons.