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Chester Big Band victorious at International Musical Eisteddfod 2023

Pavarotti in 'Corale Rossini', 1955 (credit

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, a major event in the world's music calendar since 1947, is well known not only for attracting the very best professional performers from across the globe, but also launching the careers of some of the finest artists. A young Pavarotti was present in the choir from his home town of Modena that took first prize in the Male Voice Choir category in 1955; Mared Williams, one of the stars of this year's headline act 'Welsh of the West End', shot to fame in 2018 having won the Eisteddfod's International Musical Theatre Voice of the Future prize.

Now, our very own Chester Big Band can add their name to the list of winners at this prestigious competition.

CBB at Eisteddfod 2022

Having performed on one of the outside stages during last year's Eisteddfod to critical acclaim, CBB were invited back this year to take part in a brand new competition category for bands. The band had never taken part in a competition before, but were fully aware of the likely calibre of their opponents. They were also to be judged by two of Britain's finest musical brains: the decorated violist, conductor and director Robert Guy; and the world renowned conductor, wind ensemble leader and former RNCM stalwart Timothy Reynish.

Jan Modelski, back behind the kit (photo credit: Stephen Lloyd)

CBB's lead up to the competition was by no means smooth: the band found themselves without their regular players in two of the key rhythm section positions, but were lucky enough to find fantastic deps - one in the shape of their very own MD-extraordinaire Jan Modelski, who picked up his sticks for the first time in a while and set the pace from behind the drum kit.

Photo credit: Stephen Lloyd

Having played their 12-minute competition set -comprising 'Moondance' by Van Morrison, a beautiful arrangement of Burt Bacharach's 'Alfie' and closing with the Dizzy Gillespie classic 'A Night In Tunisia' - and continuing to entertain the crowds with a rousing 30-minute set of their own choice (with encore demanded), the band eagerly awaited their adjudication.

They were not disappointed. Reynish, having opened his adjudication regaling stories of watching Duke Ellington's big band in his youth, delivered a sparkling review of CBB's performance. His praise ranged from approving of the band's challenging, yet entertaining programme of music, to the strength in depth of each of the sections, to even the 'not perfunctory' tuning up at the start! When the final verdict was delivered, CBB were victorious - receiving a beautiful trophy and certificate to commemorate their win.

Following their sell-out Storyhouse gig in June and a paid appearance earlier at the week at this year's Eisteddfod, the competition win was the perfect way to cap a hugely successful season for Chester Big Band - we can't wait to see what they get up to next!

Don't miss a thing: follow the band on our website and socials (Facebook and Instagram), and through CBB's own socials (Facebook and Instagram).

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