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/ .