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An Ulster Log: Striking up band to raise some more brass

By Eddie McIlwaine

It's going to be a right old get together of the Corry family when Festival Brass celebrate their 20th anniversary tonight. Alan, the conductor, will be joined at the Glenmachan Church by his brother, singer Peter, and cornet soloist father, Norman (85). And Alan's cousins John and David, both on cornet, will be there, too.

"The Corrys are a mighty musical lot," says Wilfie Pyper, who will be compere on the night.

And one of the numbers Peter will be singing will be Remember Me by Phil Coulter.

"It's a Brass favourite and appropriate for such an anniversary," says Alan.

It is certainly true that some of the best things in life happen by accident and in two decades these musicians have raised around £200,000 in support of charities across Northern Ireland.

The story began in 1995 when, a double booking left a gig in Dundonald with an empty stage. Good Samaritan Alan Corry stepped in to salvage the situation at short notice. He called on friends in the music business - most of whom are still in what became known that evening as Festival Brass - to save the day, which they did to a standing ovation.

"A fairytale kind of event happened that night in Dundonald," says Alan. "We have been playing together ever since, including six concerts in Spain and one on a cruise liner in the Med. We do around 10 gigs a year."

It's a scoop for the anniversary at the Glenmachan Church of God (7.30pm) that Peter has made himself available as guest soloist. Completing the line-up will be St Joseph's Primary School Choir, Ballyhackamore and Penryhn Preparatory School Choir.

Tickets are available from Belfast Music (9048 1010); Matchett's Music (9032 6695); Glenmachan Office (9076 1676); and Festival Brass (07980306425). Festival Brass will donate the proceeds of this concert to Glenmachan Tower House Nursing Home.

How fairy tale role came true for Lauren

Actress Lauren Nevin (24) just loves a good fairy tale, which means that the Monkstown College of Dance graduate relishes pantomime, too.

She has been in Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and Jack And The Beanstalk already in her young life.

Most of the productions were at the Olympia Theatre in her home town of Dublin.

So when Lauren was offered the chance to play Snow White at the Grand Opera House in Belfast in a run through Christmas into the New Year, she didn’t hesitate.

“It’s one role I’ve always dreamed about,” says the young star.

Snow White is a Belfast favourite because it was, in its time, a vehicle for much-loved Dana, who will definitely be in the audience.

Who was the mystery man behind Cliff’s favourite lines?

After a storming night of standing ovations at the Royal Albert Hall in London, I’m delighted that my friend, Sir Cliff Richard, has put the dark days behind him and is now back in top form.

And he is still keen to find out who wrote these special words in a review of a Richard concert at the King’s Hall, Belfast, once upon a time: “God and rock ‘n’ roll go well together in the hands of someone who loves them both.”

Cliff says those words helped him discover a truth about himself when he read them in a daily newspaper the day after the gig.

And he is still looking for the journalist who paid him this mighty compliment.

I wish it had been me — but the next best thing to finding the name of the writer is Cliff’s revelation to me that he will have that sentence of profound words etched on his headstone.

Not, I hasten to add, that the First Knight of Pop is anticipating departing this mortal coil any time soon.

In fact, at 75, he is looking years younger and singing better than ever.

For Alfie, pride came after a fall

It turns out today that Flying Officer Alfie Martin at 95 years and a half is the oldest surviving holder of a Caterpillar Pin - awarded to flyers who bale out of stricken aircraft, mostly during wartime.

Not only did Flying Officer Alfie bale out of a damaged Halifax Bomber over France in 1943 at the height of the Second World War - he also slipped through German Army patrols and escaped into Spain and then into Gibraltar, from where he was flown back to his old base with 102 Squadron in Bristol.

Alfie later wrote a bestseller called Bale Out, about how he managed to avoid ending up a prisoner of war. Alfie wears his Caterpillar Pin with pride, as does William Stirling, about whom I wrote recently.

The start of our Indian summers

It might be colder today, but we in the province have just been blessed by an Indian Summer - which is another way of describing a spell of unseasonably warm, dry weather, usually happening in the autumn weeks between October and mid-November.

But how did this season that will shorten the winter get its name? Well, way back in the late 19th century Boston lexicographer Albert Matthews made an exhaustive search of early American literature in an attempt to discover who coined the expression.

He found that it was probably so-called because it was first noted in regions of the USA inhabited by Indians, or because the Indians first described it so to Europeans.

Another chapter in a Love Story

Remember my story last week about a possible remake of the 1970 romantic hit Love Story - one of the highest grossing movies in American film history?

Well, the word today is that actress Rachel Weisz is being head-hunted for a role in the 2015 version.

Obviously not the part of the student Jenny (Ali MacGraw) who is dying of a serious illness. My information is that the storyline will be altered - if she says yes - to accommodate Rachel as a lecturer or a consultant who befriends the girl.

Rachel, wife of 007 star Daniel Craig, was impressed by the original Love Story book by Erich Segal and could very well be persuaded to take an important role in the remake by Paramount.

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