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Chester plays host to the top young folk musician of the world

International Music Week brought together local talent and artists from around the world

Parkie Choir from Cape Town South Africa(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

Chester audiences were left speechless upon witnessing a performance from the world’s number one young musician.

Sixteen-year-old Ruisi Zhi from China thrilled a packed audience of adults and school children at St Mary’s Creative Space as she performed a piece on her Erhu (stringed instrument) for which she received the award of best young musician of the world at the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen earlier in the day.

16 year old Ruisi Zhi from China(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

She was joined by Jiamin Yin who wowed the audiences with a rendition on his Gurqin which gained him an impressive fourth place in the same global competition.

World class musicians from four continents have been performing alongside singers and musicians from across the city this week.

Choirs, dancers and musicians from China, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe and The Philippines were amongst the astounding array of groups who thrilled audiences of all ages as part of the second Chester International Music Week.

Mothertouch dancers and musicians from Harare, Zimbabwe(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

The performances took place in various outdoor locations in Chester city centre and in the emerging cultural hub of St Mary’s Creative Space.

The mini-festival involved almost a thousand performers and as many audience members in a celebration of music which enabled the ‘coming together’ of top class international performers of all ages with accomplished and aspiring singers and musicians from the local area.

The festival has been the brainchild of city company Theatre in the Quarter which successfully forged a partnership with the annual Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

A Handbag of Harmonies(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

Top international choirs and performers descend upon the International Eisteddfod every year to perform and compete, and in doing so draw audiences from across the country and the world.

Artistic director Matt Baker said: “Chester is a mere stepping stone away from one of the most incredible musical festivals in the world. By working with the International Eisteddfod, not only are we offering a great opportunity for performers across the world to visit our wonderful city, but we are also inviting performers from The Philippines, musicians from China, dancers from Zimbabwe and choirs from California the opportunity to bring their astounding musical gifts to the people of our city.”

Piedmont East Bay Choir from San Francisco(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

Matt added: “Perhaps most importantly, we can play our small part in letting people know what astounding things happen in Llangollen every year. What we do in Chester is simply Llangollen in miniature!”

Chester International Music Week included a street festival, where Chester school choirs were able to perform alongside performers such as Parkie Choir from South Africa, Baaao Chamber Choir from Manila and Palmdale Singers from Los Angeles.

Baaao Chamber ensemble from Manila, Philippines(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

The sun shone on the streets of Chester as crowds drew to witness the explosion and sound.

In moments of spontaneity, African teenagers taught Chester children some dance moves to their songs.

The street festival was followed by three intimate evenings which took place in St Mary’s Creative Space in the city centre.

Each performance brought Chester performers together with groups from across the globe.

The local performers included City of Chester Brass Band, A Handbag of Harmonies and children from Mill View Primary School and St Werburgh and St Columba’s School.

Combined voices of Mill View Primary School and St Werburghs & St Columbas Primary School choirs(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

Rachael Borman from St Werburgh’s said: “This was a truly unique and golden opportunity for young people from different cultures to come together through the language of music. We really hope that this will develop into something greater.”

Head of staging and outreach for the International Eisteddfod John Gambles said: “The new partnership arrangement between us and St Mary’s Creative Space Chester got off to great start last week as the eisteddfod reached out to new audiences and gave different performance opportunities to some excellent artists. The groups and soloists enjoyed being tourists and performing on the streets in the heart of a great city, as well as in St Mary’s.”

City of Chester Brass Band(Image: Duncan Ritchie)

He added: “It was a great success. The groups and soloists already had a tough week competing and performing in Llangollen but they thoroughly enjoyed their Chester experience. Some of the audiences already come to the Eisteddfod but so many more eyes were opened to what is on the door step, just half an hour away. Perhaps more importantly, the eisteddfod was able to take its guiding principle, of using the common language of music and dance to nurture peace and harmony, to a wider audience.”

John concluded: “Our friends from Zimbabwe, United States, the Philippines, South Africa and China will have taken back lifelong memories of the reception they received in Chester as well as those from Llangollen.”

Plans are already underway to develop the project next year. Opportunities to build into the Chester Mystery Plays and other cultural events in the city next July will form part of the exciting possibilities.

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