A brief history

The band originated in the period 1832-40 as a fife and drum ensemble attached to Chester’s Blue Coat School. Money left over from a fund established by the 'Ladies of Chester' to buy a present for Queen Victoria led to the ensemble becoming a British brass band. The money was donated to the Blue Coat School foundation, and so the Blue Coat School Brass Band came about. With a likely formation date of 1853, the band celebrated its 150th Birthday in 2003.

Prior to World War II the Chester Blue Coat Band would regularly walk the city walls as part of a religious event marking Palm Sunday. The perambulation of the walls was re-created in September 2003 as part of the events commemorating the 150th anniversary, and again in 2013. 

Although no longer referred to as The Blue Coat Band, the link with the past is maintained through the Band’s distinctive blue uniform. The jacket also carries a badge of the famous Eastgate Clock, recognisable around the world as a symbol of Chester, a city with a fine cultural heritage which the Band has been proud to represent for over 150 years.

Apart from the period of World War I, when the instruments were loaned to the military for recruitment purposes, the Band has been active ever since, becoming independent of The Blue Coat School in Northgate Street, Chester in the mid-20th century when it acquired charitable status and its own band room in Bedward Row, close to the city centre.

The Band returned to the brass band contesting scene in the 1970s and made its first European tour in 1982 when it toured Switzerland under the musical direction of the late John Golland. In 2014 and 2016 the Band visited Amboise, in the Loire Valley, to compete in the French Open Brass Band Championships. 

Today the Band proudly carries the City name and is totally self-supporting, income being derived from members’ subscriptions and fees or donations earned through performing engagements. A lottery grant in 1997 enabled the purchase of new instruments and the widening of public access to the band, brass band music and the formation of a thriving Training Band.

Main band rehearsals are held in the Bedward Row band room on Mondays and Wednesdays from 20:00 to 22:00 under the musical direction of Ewan Easton MBE, Principal Tuba with the Halle Orchestra and Tutor in Tuba at the Royal Northern College of Music.

In 2000 the City of Chester Training Band was formed and several former members now occupy principal seats within the main band. The mixed-ability Training Band comprises young people aged 7 to 70. Several times a year the main and training bands combine for joint rehearsals under Ewan Easton’s direction.

Early in 2017 the City of Chester Junior Band was started, aimed exclusively at children aged 7 to 11. These bands meet on Monday evenings during term time in St Luke’s Church, Huntington between 18:00 and 19:30.

What's new

A Band wedding

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19/10/2017

For over two years the Secretary of the City of Chester Band kept Saturday 14 October 2017 clear in its engagement diary for a special event: a wedding, that of two band members Kirsty Blain and Alexander Bargh who met in 2008 whilst at university in Aberystwyth.Kirsty plays the Eb Tenor Horn whilst Alex plays percussion.In addition to occupying the Solo Horn position, Kirsty is also the Band Secretary!

Kirsty was one of the first to join the City of Chester Training Band when it formed in 2000.Alexander hails from Monmouth.

The wedding took place at St John the Baptist Church in Aldford, the very church where Kirsty’s parents, Paula and Tony Blain, had married in 1986.With warm, sunny weather ideal for a wedding, the fine church acoustics helped the Band to play all the music associated with the ceremony: as guests arrived, accompanying the hymns, during the signing of the wedding register and as Mr and Mrs Bargh left the church to warm applause and the music “If I didn’t have you†from the film Monsters Inc.

In the evening band members joined Kirsty and Alexander, their families and friends, at an evening reception at the Cock o’Barton, Barton Road, Malpas.

Kirsty and Alexander are pictured after their wedding.

Band web site

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19/10/2017

In November this web site will be replaced with a new one currently under production. The existing site has served the Band for over 13 years. It was built by Philip Clowes who has looked after it throughout. The City of Chester Band wishes to place on record thanks to Philip for all his work over the years.

Further information about the new web site will follow.

Training Band Conductor required

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25/08/2017

City of Chester Training Band

Our Training Band needs a Conductor.We have an active group of enthusiastic young people aged 11 to 70+ who undertake engagements in their own right. We are also developing another ensemble for children aged 7 – 11, and you’ll be working with Ewan Easton MBE, Musical Director of the City of Chester Band, in developing players for the future.

The Training and Junior bands meet on Monday evenings in term times between 18:00 and 19:30 at St Luke’s Church, Huntington.For further information contact Tony Blain, Training Band Co-ordinator, on 07913109951.

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Player vacancies

7

25/08/2017

The City of Chester Band (a registered charity) has vacancies for front row cornet players (including Principal) and bass players (Eb/BBb tubas).With our Musical Director, Ewan Easton MBE (Principal Tuba, Hallé Orchestra), we work hard on getting the basics right in music and instrumental technique, with the objective of playing and enjoying more interesting music.It is not an objective achieved overnight, but with Ewan’s help (e.g. one-to-one tutorials) we are heading in the right direction.Rehearsals are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 10 pm, with tutorials between 7 and 8 pm.We also have a Training Band which meets on Mondays (6:00 to 7:30) during term times.A third section band, we usually enter contests each spring (NW regional and Whit Friday) and autumn (Rochdale).

A particular welcome (regardless of instrument and playing standard) is extended to folks coming to Chester University this autumn.We will be playing on the Chester Town Hall square on Sunday 24 September around lunch-time so come along and introduce yourself.

Our band room, in Bedward Row, is close to the city centre.

To join us on our journey of improvement please contact Kirsty Blain on 07816457017 or Matthew McCleary on 07779957711.See, also, our Facebook page: City of Chester Brass and Twitter: https://twitter.com/devabrass.

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Vacancies

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24/07/2017

The City of Chester Band (a registered charity) has vacancies for front row cornet players (including Principal) and tuba players (Eb/BBb).With our Musical Director, Ewan Easton MBE (Principal Tuba, Hallé Orchestra), we work hard on getting the basics right in music and instrumental technique, with the objective of playing and enjoying more interesting music.It is not an objective achieved overnight, but with Ewan’s help (e.g. one-to-one tutorials) we are heading in the right direction.Rehearsals are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 to 10 pm.Our band room is close to the city centre.

If you would like to join us on our journey of improvement please contact Kirsty Blain on 07816457017 or Matthew McCleary on 07779957711.

We also have Training (11-70+) and Junior (7-11) Bands which meet weekly during term times.From September a conductor is needed for the Training Band, to work with Ewan in developing players for the future.Contact Tony Blain (07913109951) if you are interested.

City of Chester Training Band - Press release

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11/07/2017

City of Chester Training Band – Press release

The City of Chester Training Band is about to take a break over the summer holidays after a momentous first half of the year.In the spring a new training ensemble aimed specifically at children aged 7 – 11 was established under the direction of the Hallé Orchestra’s tuba player Ewan Easton MBE: the City of Chester Junior Band.Gradually the Junior Band is developing and membership is rising following a series of short promotional concerts in local primary schools given by members of the main City of Chester and Training Bands.[Attached is a picture taken at a recent taster session where children (and their teachers!) got chance to play a brass instrument.]

Aldford Village Hall was again the scene on Sunday afternoon on Sunday 2 July for the City of Chester Training Band’s annual solo competition.Eight members played a piece of music of their own choice before the adjudicator, Robert MacDonald who plays Flugel Horn with the main Band.

The winner was 15-year old Robert Tarver from Llay, playing a lyrical melody of his own composition on the cornet.Robert joins Kirsty Blain in having won the competition twice in its 17 years and he has also gone on to follow Kirsty into playing with the City of Chester Band (a registered charity).

Before the adjudication started, all entrants to the competition warmed up by playing a short band concert under the direction of conductor, Paul Donoghue.Paul has stepped in to conduct the Training Band after Chris Hardy had to step down due to ill health; a replacement for Chris is being sought for September onwards.The concert resumed after the competition whilst adjudicator Robert MacDonald gathered his thoughts together before commenting on each competitor’s performance and announcing the winner. [Robert Tarver is pictured receiving the winner’s Margaret Blythin Memorial Trophy from Robert MacDonald.]

All entrants were praised by the adjudicators for entering the competition and for their determination in playing solo before an audience, never an easy matter.Tips were given on preparation, presentation, style, technique and posture.

The afternoon concluded with the presentation of medallions and certificates to all the competitors, a buffet and raffle.

Chris Hardy’s efforts with the Training Band and his overall dedication to rehearsing and playing led City of Chester Band’s Musical Director (MD) Ewan Easton MBE to award the MD’s Player of the Year award to Chris. at the recent annual general meeting of the City of Chester Band. [Pictured is Chris Hardy receiving his award from Ewan Easton.]

Anyone interested in joining the City of Chester Training Band should contact Tony Blain on 07913109951.

Our Swiss friends

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21/06/2017

The City of Chester Band is always pleased to welcome players visiting Chester, none more so than when they're students at English in Chester, Chester's language school.For many years, the City of Chester Band has had young players from Europe (Switzerland, mainly) join for the duration of their course.Friendships are made and it's always sad when the time comes for their return.

The latest temporary recruits to the Band have been two Swiss: Julian Burkhard (euphonium) from Beromonster in the canton of Lucerne and Andrin Buehler (Tenor Trombone) from Hohenrain, also of the same canton.Julian plays in Musikgesellschaft Eich, while Andrin is a member of Musikgesellschaft Hohenrain.


Both come from musical families.During their time with the City of Chester Band they have enjoyed working under the Band’s Musical Director, Ewan Easton MBE.

For both the musical highlight was taking part in the Whit Friday March Contests with City of Chester.These competitions have been held since 1884 and originally concluded religious celebrations when workers were given the day off.On a balmy summer evening on 9 June Julian and Andrin rubbed shoulders with musicians from all over the UK and Europe as bands moved around villages (travelling in coaches) in the Saddleworth and Tameside districts playing their chosen quick-step march. Competitions usually start around 4 pm and close around 11.

City of Chester played in six of the nine competitions in Saddleworth; the number of competing bands in each contest ranged from 48 to 81 with City of Chester getting placed roughly in the middle of the pack comprising bands of all standards, it being a third section band.

In Uppermill there was a brief opportunity for Julian and Andrin to see one of the three visiting Swiss brass bands which featured in the prizes.The evening was topped off in Denshaw where City of Chester played their last contest.It was 10:30 and band members were relaxing over their favourite cup of Darjeeling (!) before boarding the coach home but the return was delayed when the famous Black Dyke Band drove into town to play in the competition, enabling members to listen to, and appreciate, their performance and where Dyke earned the 1st prize of £1,000.

On return to Switzerland Andrin will transfer to a school where he will work on a farm for 4 days with 1 day spent in the classroom.Julian is to begin a course studying economics.The City of Chester Band wish to place on record their appreciation of Andrin and Julian's playing and friendship over the past few months and wish them every success in the future.Attached are photos of Julian Burkhard (euphonium) and Andrin Buehler (tenor trombone) in City of Chester band uniforms on the evening of the Whit Friday march contests in Uppermill.

April Player of the Month

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08/05/2017

The april 2017 Player of the Month has been given to John Pattison for his hard work and always ready to help out and even when he "messes up" he always has a smile on his face.

A good day at Blackpool

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28/02/2017

A press release was sent recently to our local papers relating to the City of Chester Band travelling to Blackpool on Sunday 26 February to compete in the NW Regional Championships of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. The Band were placed sixth out of eighteen bands in the Third Section. Commenting on the outcome Musical Director Ewan Easton MBE said he was proud of the Band's performance, a good team effort. The journey of improvement continues and Ewan looks forward to working further with the Band.

Other bands in mid- and south Cheshire enjoyed varying degrees of success. The famous Foden Band, from Elworth, Sandbach will be playing in the Royal Albert Hall, London in October after winning the Championship Section at Blackpool, The Crewe-based Co-operative Funeral Care Band were placed fourth, narrowly missing out on also qualifying to play in the finals while Roberts Bakery Band, from Northwich, were placed 11th. In the Second Section the Winsford-based Cheshire Constabulary Band qualified for the National Finals to be held in Cheltenham in September, being placed second. In the same section Crewe Brass came fifth.

Our new Junior Band

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31/01/2017

City of Chester Band (a registered charity)

Press Release

In 2000 the City of Chester Band formed a training band which has gone from strength to strength, with a number progressing to playing in the main band and one on to study music at university.All who have played in the Training Band have benefitted from developing their life skills.

The City of Chester Band is now developing a new opportunity for children who want to take up music.It has teamed up with the Musical Routes Music Education Hub, which is the music education hub for Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester Councils, to form a Junior Band.The partnership will enhance the music services aimed at children aged 7 to 11 (Key Stage 2).

A key driver of this initiative has been Ewan Easton MBE, the City of Chester Band’s Musical Director, who is passing on his extensive experience of teaching the playing of brass instruments to people of all ages and levels of ability.Raw beginners begin learning in a fun environment such matters as the importance of maintaining a relaxed but upright posture, one which supports deep breaths being taken which enable players to play fluently.Ewan is being assisted by a number of players from the main band.DBS checks are being carried out on all involved with the Junior Band.

The Junior Band meets on Mondays in term time between 6:00 and 7:00 at St Luke’s Church, Chester Road, Huntington, CH3 6BT.Tuition is free but there is a small charge to offset the cost of room hire.Children on reaching 11 will be invited to progress to the Training Band which comprises young people aged up to 80!

Parents/guardians who think their children would like to learn to play a brass instrument should contact Tony Blain (kitchlal@yahoo.co.uk or tel: 07913109951).