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

Junior Band Exam success

Tony

19/06/2018

One member of the Junior Band has had Exam success this past week with a Grade 2 Distinction Pass on Trumpet. Very well done to Jake and keep up the good work. 

Exam Success

Tony

19/04/2018

Many congratulations go out to three(3) members of the training band as they all passed music exams in the last couple of weeks. They are 

Molly Grade 5 Horn Merit .Also Molly passed her Saxophone exam 

Lilly Grade 4 Cornet Pass

Nathan Grade 2 Horn Pass

Very well done to all 3 and also to their tutor Kirsty Bargh for all her hard work.

Bands visit Newton Primary school

Tony

22/03/2018

Members of both bands made a visit to Newton Primary school on 22nd March and had a very appreciative group of children who were very interested in the instruments we took along for them to "have a go with" . The children asked lots of questions about both the junior band and the way that they can join the band. If you would like the band to visit your school please contact [email protected] for further details 

 

City of Chester Band - Press release

Les. Platt

29/01/2018

Weeks of hard work paid off for the City of Chester Band on Sunday 28 January with some success in the “Brass @ The Guild” brass band contest held in Preston’s Guild Hall and Charter Theatre.  Playing in the Third Section, the Band were placed third out of thirteen with Kirsty Bargh, Chester’s Solo Horn player, being awarded the “Sarah Gardner Trophy” for the best horn player in the section.  Kirsty started playing the Eb Tenor Horn with the City of Chester Training Band in 2000.

The contest is seen as an opportunity for bands to showcase their playing of the set test-pieces ahead of the regional championships which are due to be held in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens complex on Sunday 25 February.  Bands in the prizes at Blackpool qualify to play in the national championships held in September in Cheltenham with Championship-level bands playing in the Royal Albert Hall, London in October.

Due to professional commitments with the Hallé Chester’s tuba-playing Musical Director, Ewan Easton MBE, was unable to lead the Band at Preston.  Conducting in his place and for the first time at a contest, too, was Bandmaster Matthew Birkett (28).  Not a bad start for Matthew!  

St Helens-born Matthew Birkett is one of a number of talented and enthusiastic young people who have come to study in recent years at Chester University and join the Band before going on to find work and settle in the area. Along with a thriving training band, students such as Matthew have helped to re-vitalise the City of Chester Band (established c.1853) which is a part of the city’s cultural heritage.

As well as continuing to work on the test-piece “Napoleon on the Alps” by Philip Harper, commissioned in 2016 by Jugend Brass Band Forum Ostschweiz (Switzerland), the Band is preparing for a busy summer season of concerts around the region.

For further information about the City of Chester Band and the City of Chester Training Band see: https://www.chesterbrass.co.uk/ .

A Band wedding

7

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

7

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

7

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

7

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

7

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.