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

Our Swiss friends

7

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

4

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

7

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 ([email protected] or tel: 07913109951).

Hoole Christmas Lights Switch On 2016

4

21/11/2016

The crowds were out on Saturday night in Hoole for the Christmas Lights switch. on It may have been 2 degrees but the band played on and what a show they put on for the public , the band along with Dee 106.3 kept the crowds entertained until the fireworks went of and the lights came on. Well done to all the members you played really well.


Press release – 11 November 2016

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15/11/2016

What is it about Swiss people and their interest in brass bands?Over the years the City of Chester Band has welcomed a number of men and women who have travelled to Chester in order to improve their English at a local language college and who also play a brass instrument.Currently playing with the Band is Hervé Parisod, from Lausanne.He joined the Band in August and has proved to be a constant, missing few rehearsals and engagements.Hervé played a leading part with the Band when it performed in the NW Brass Bands Association Championships, held in Rochdale in October.

Back home, Hervé plays cornet with La Fanfare de Crissier (http://www.fanfare-crissier.ch/?page=accueil) , a British-style brass band playing in the second tier of competing brass bands in Switzerland (approximately 115 at all levels).Hervé, 25, who has a degree in electronics engineering, has been playing cornet for 11 years.His grandfather played brass instruments, too, and brother plays percussion, also in the Crissier band.

Chester’s language college was Hervé’s choice as he preferred to live in a small, quiet city close to the north of England which he wanted to see more of.During his stay Hervé has paid visits to Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Peak District.Cities visited include Liverpool, Manchester, York and Edinburgh, London having been visited on an earlier visit to southern England.Also during his stay in Chester Hervé has developed an appreciation of local and regional real ales!

For two senior members of Chester’s band, Philip Mottershead and Les Platt, there is a link with Lausanne for they were part of the City of Chester Band when it toured Switzerland in 1982.A memorable concert was given in the gardens of the casino in Lausanne against the backdrop of Lake Geneva and the French Alps.

While Hervé’s favourite top brass bands are the world-famous Black Dyke Band from Yorkshire and the Cory Band from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, we hope that he will always keep a place in his heart for the City of Chester.Band members have certainly enjoyed his company and support and we will be sorry to see him return to Switzerland in December.Bon voyage Hervé!

Solo Competition 2016

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11/10/2016

Aldford Village Hall was the scene on Sunday afternoon (9 October) for the City of Chester Training Band’s annual solo competition.Ten members, whose ages range from 10 to 77, played a piece of music of their own choice before an adjudication panel comprising Peter Dalton, a long-standing personal tutor to many Training Band members, and Paul Donoghue, Chairman of the City of Chester Band and Soprano Cornet player within the main band.

The adjudicators commented on the high standard of playing throughout the afternoon awarding the Margaret Blythin shield to Deborah Roberts (the winner’s shield is dedicated to a former player).Deborah, who joined the Training Band earlier this year, started playing on the Eb Tenor Horn six years ago and is currently preparing to take her Grade 6 music exam.

Before the adjudication started, all ten entrants to the competition warmed up their lips and instruments by playing a short band concert under the direction of their conductor, Chris. Hardy.The concert resumed after the competition during which the adjudicators gathered their thoughts before commenting on each competitor’s performance and announcing the winner.

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.

Pictures show the winner Deborah Roberts, all the competitors with Chris Hardy and Tony Blain, Training Band Co-ordinator, who organised the event.

2016 Solo Competition

4

10/10/2016

The Training Band came together yesterday (Sunday)9th October for the annual Solo Competition held at the Village Hall Aldford the band played a few warm up tunes first before the event got going. In all we had 10 band members who took part this year and all played well and with enthusiasm. The adjudicators this year were Peter Dalton and Paul Donoghue and conducting the band was Chris Hardey. Very well done to you all and an extra well done to Deborah Roberts who was the overall winner. Thanks to Les and Kirsty for the photo's
A dentist abroad

7

25/09/2016

For far too long our news broadcasts have carried details of the plight of people fleeing their homelands in search of food, warmth and safety.How terrible we say to ourselves, something should be done but then we get back to our settled lifestyles.But one member of the City of Chester Band decided there was something she could do: she would go and give some of her time.Dental Surgeon Donna Jackson is currently working in a professional team visiting a number of the refugee camps in Greece during the last two weeks of September.Donna answered an appeal issued by UK Charity “Dentaid†(http://dentaid.org/ ) which for over 20 years has sent teams of dental professionals to more than 70 countries where there is a real shortage of professional dental care.

The need for professional dental care was highlighted by the charities Red Cross and MSF whose workers observed that many people were unable to eat because of painful dental problems.Neither organisation had the equipment or expertise to solve the problem and so “Dentaid†was called in.

Donna had to go through a lengthy bureaucratic procedure during which her personal and professional accreditations were checked by a Greek voluntary organisation; the refugee camps in Greece are subject to strict military control in order to safeguard the refugees’ wellbeing.Having met the requirements Donna paid for her own air fare and was then told that only hand luggage could be taken with her in order to make space for dental supplies and equipment.And within the hand luggage Donna had to include surgical scrubs, loupes, batteries and masks besides clothing.

At the camps Donna and her colleagues are visiting dental units are set up in old shipping containers or in tents inside warehouses.In one blog Donna noted that some refugees had evidence of good dental work in the past, with crowns and bridges “… a legacy of the safe, prosperous life they used to have.â€

Many of the patients have been Syrians.Within a day Donna and her colleagues can visit more than one camp.In one camp the last patient of the day was a little boy who had a tooth extracted.Dentists noticed he showed signs of a mild form of epilepsy (petit mal).Fortunately, Donna records in her blog: “We managed to catch the medics before they left the camp for a few days.Hopefully, he will be sorted out but we will never know.â€

Next week Donna Jackson will be back at band practice joining in preparations for the City of Chester Band’s forthcoming engagements and contest at the end of October.Just one of the Band.

Donations to Dentaid may be made c/o of their web site: http://dentaid.org/ .

Attached are some photos of Donna and her colleagues at work in Greece.

A wedding

7

17/09/2016

Today, Band members Alix and James marry and the City of Chester Band is delighted to be taking a part in their wedding ceremony and celebrations. Congratulations to the happy couple!