Civic events  |  17 Dec 2019

Kim Blackmore is practically pitch perfect in the local community – from accomplished trombonist and busy baton wielder to popular provider of pastoral care.

The long-time musical director of Stedfast Brass is one of the 10 recipients of this year’s Christchurch Civic Awards.

At 66, Mr Blackmore’s commitment to nurturing and supporting his musical and pastoral community remains as strong as ever.

He views the award as an acknowledgement of Stedfast Brass as a whole, and the band’s all-encompassing approach.

Formed in 1984, the band remarkably features three of the “originals” – Harold Garlick, Alastair McGowan and Colin Eaton.

The Civic Award recognises Mr Blackmore’s leadership and dedication, along with his “incalculable” contribution to the cultural and spiritual life of his fellow musicians and the wider community.

“We get our delight in trying to be the best-entertaining band we can be,” Mr Blackmore explains.

“It gives many of our members the opportunity to play and perform music to a good standard where they may not have the opportunity elsewhere.

“We have very experienced players as well as many who have started playing later in life. We provide instruments and train them up so that they are now valuable band members.”

For more than 20 years, he has encouraged and developed the 30-plus ensemble while also finding the time to teach musicians, arrange performances and provide care and support by visiting the sick and listening to concerns.

Two players – Michael McGowan and Mr Blackmore’s son, Andrew – have gone on to perform on the world stage.

From pop songs to jazz standards, classics to golden oldies, marches to sacred songs, Stedfast Brass performs in rest homes, the Edmonds Gardens, churches, malls and at community events.

“Each year, we usually put on a major fundraising concert called The Loyal Variety Show,” he says.

“We have been able to assist a large number of organisations – including CanTeen, Life Education, the Christchurch City Mission and the Salvation Army emergency service – while also having a great time rehearsing and then performing for our supportive audiences.”

He also recognises the importance of mentorship.

“Sometimes in life we come across a mentor who shapes your life,” Mr Blackmore says.

“My mentor was well-known trombone player Murray Griffiths.

“When I was a teenager, Murray took me under his wing, taught me and gave me opportunities to develop as a trombone player. Because he generously gave his valuable time to me, I have tried to ‘pay it forward’ by giving starter lessons freely to anyone wanting to learn a brass instrument.

“I only ask that they practise – and eventually play in the band.”