On 7th September, Bader’s Big Band, the UK’s first touring big band made up of musicians with a disability will make their debut performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, for the One Handed Musical Instrument Trust’s annual awards. The concert starts at 7pm, and the Big Band is opening it.
Established by the Douglas Bader Foundation, Bader’s Big Band supports people with all manner of disabilities into music. After many months of preparation, the band will make its first live performance in Birmingham, on Friday 7th September. The band will play a starring role in the evening’s event, hosted by comedian Al Murray, for the One Handed Musical Instrument Trust, which supports musicians with disabilities.
The band itself has been supported by world-renown charities like Help for Heroes throughout auditions and rehearsals, and the Foundation commissioned the contemporary classical composer Andy Keenan to adapt famous songs to suit a classic big band sound.
The musicians are the band’s beating heart, and they are each on their own unique journey. Bassist Geoff Stear was being treated at the Combat Stress unit for PTSD following many years in the army, and for him, Bader’s Big Band has got him on the path back to living, and helped him see human life and conquering our own challenges in a new light. Rehearsing with musicians with a range of different stories, backgrounds, and disabilities showed him that disability need not be a barrier to enjoying and participating in the fun things in this world.
The Big Band has been organised by Charley Bickers, the grandson of Sir Douglas Bader, the disabled World War Two fighter ace after whom the charity is named. Charley is incredibly proud of the band’s musicians, who he believes are all great examples of Douglas’ dogged spirit in the face of adversity. Learning, playing, and practising together, the musicians have all grown in confidence and skill through mutual support. Charley and the Foundation are incredibly excited to see everything come to Fruition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire this Friday.
Douglas Bader was wounded in an air crash in 1931, and lost both his legs to amputation. He retrained as a pilot, and became one of the RAF’s most famous fighter aces, leading 242 Squadron. The Douglas Bader Foundation endeavours to keep his spirit alive by supporting people with disabilities achieve new things in their lives, and overcome the challenges of disability.