Long record of polished brass
Almost 80 years after he first competed at the national brass band championships, Maurice Abrahams still has plenty of puff.
Next week Mr Abrahams, 93, will travel with Nelson City Brass to Timaru to take part in the championships he first competed in as a 13-year-old in 1933.
The trip will be far more direct than the first time he headed to the nationals in Timaru.
In 1935, aged 15, he recalled hitch-hiking to Glenhope to meet his train driver father who dropped him off in Westport, where he joined the Westport brass band to travel to Timaru.
Mr Abraham's father played the trombone and taught him to play brass band instruments as a boy. At 10 he performed solo for the first time at Hampden Street School.
Mr Abrahams has no plans to hang up his baritone horn and said he would probably play until the day he died. "I always enjoy competing – it doesn't matter if it is music or hockey or beating Sue [his partner] at scrabble."
He is not one to figuratively blow his own trumpet.
Two years ago he won the masters over-90 solo section at the nationals, but he said it was not hard as he was the only contestant.
He also needed encouraging from Sue, 53, to list his other activities – including playing the saxophone at rest homes, and acting as a lifeguard during swimming sessions for people with arthritis.
"The older you get the more you should do," he said.
He practised the baritone horn for 30 minutes each morning and night but said he should do more.
He has been to every national championships since 1933, even if a Nelson band has not been involved, and has competed in about 40.
The only competitions he missed was when they were cancelled during the war. Mr Abrahams served in the Middle East from 1940-1943.
He has passed his love of brass to his children, and two were selected in the Junior National Brass Band.
One of his sons continued to play the trombone after he had his arm amputated after a battle with cancer as a 15-year-old.
Mr Abrahams said he was still learning from the conductor of Nelson City Brass, Mick Dowrick. "I am of a great age but I am still learning from him."
He is looking forward to the Timaru championships.
"I think I possibly get more enjoyment out of the competitions as I get older because the standards get higher and higher."
Mr Abrahams also hoped to attend the centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli in 2015. It would be even better if he could play in a veterans' volunteer band that he had heard might travel to the commemorations.
"It would top things off nicely."
If you would like to see Mr Abrahams play, Nelson City Brass will be performing tomorrow at Nelson College at 2pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News