This year’s reworked Chester Bandstand programme has been well-received by performers and audiences. The virtual bandstand has been extended to run until the end of September to showcase the region’s creativity.
The decision to move the events online was made in early March and performers had the opportunity to apply to perform on The Virtual Bandstand. Since then, the programme has featured a wide range of acts including Chester Male Voice Choir, singer-songwriters David Burton and Chris Tavener, acclaimed harpist Elfair Grug, trumpeter Peter Moss, Silk Brass and dance from Sole Rebel.
This year’s Chester Bandstand programme also commissioned five new pieces that respond to the unusual circumstances of lockdown. Visual artist Estelle Woolley created a series of masks made from different plants and other natural materials. Her piece “Breathe” has been awarded as highly commended in the Sustainability First Art Prize and is the cover image for their publication. The first mask in the Bandstand series was 'Buttercup'bringing back childhood memories of holding the flower under the chin.
The other commissioned work includes new music and a 360 degree interactive video by musician and film maker Peter Simcoe, new work from youth theatre Minerva Arts, and two new pieces of drama from writers Kevin Dyer and John Young.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Covid-19 has continued to change our whole way of life. It has however also brought forward and inspired a new level of creativity.
“Our Libraries and Museums created an exciting online presence; we’ve seen a pop-up drive-in cinema and even our Victorian bandstand has been transformed to be the stage for a range of art forms. Live performances have been replaced by inventive online performances and five new and exclusive commissions have provided another showcase for local talent.”
The online programme has been produced by Luke Moore, who was appointed in 2018 to curate the summer programme of events in The Groves. “It has been wonderful to provide an online platform for musicians and other creatives this year. A lot of work has happened behind the scenes and audiences have really engaged with it”, says Luke. “I have been impressed by all of the performers and the new commissions have been particularly exciting. As a professional composer and producer with plenty of experience editing video, I have really enjoyed offering a mix of technical and creative support to help deliver a programme I think we can all be proud of.
“For me personally, it’s been a real pleasure to host in conversation events alongside the performances – it’s always great to speak with other creative folks about how they have adapted their practice and what’s in store”.
Listings for the events can be found on the twitter: @bandstandCH1 and the Chester Bandstand facebook page. Previous performances can be found on Chester Bandstand’s YouTube channel.