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Chester Alexander's welcome Conservatoire Folk Ensemble for 20th anniversary tour

UK's biggest folk band coming to Rufus Court venue on June 1

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble are coming to Alexander's in Chester on June 8

The UK’s biggest folk band, The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, mark their 20th anniversary year with a new album, Painted, and a series of special appearances.

They are heading out on their 20th anniversary tour, which includes an appearance at Alexander’s in Chester on Thursday, June 1.

The band’s touring line-up features a stage-challenging 50 members. Among them are 15 horns, four cellos, five percussionists, five electric guitarists, plus fiddles, flutes, clarinets, double-bass, electric bass, euphonium, acoustic guitar, octave mandola, and a harp. They sing too.

Formed in 1997 at Birmingham’s prestigious Conservatoire by fiddle player and arranger Joe Broughton (The Urban Folk Quartet, The Albion Band, Joss Stone), the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble have established a reputation for creating energetic and powerful shows.

Still based at Birmingham City University’s Conservatoire, the personal influences of each member shapes the set-list, as traditional English and Celtic reels slide into full-on rock grooves, funk, jazz, hip-hop, ska and reggae. Eastern European and Asian flourishes can also be heard, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the group.

Painted is the ensemble’s first full studio album, and follows two live collections (2009’s Sardines, 2014’s The Official Bootleg) and a live DVD (2007).

With a cover image by fiddle player Ning-ning Li, which echoes the distinctive make-up sported by several band members at shows, its 10 tracks aim to document the breadth of the ensemble experience.

Founder and band leader Joe Broughton said: “The challenge for us has been really capturing the power and intensity of the ensemble without it impacting on the delicacy or fragility of the quieter, more subtle moments.

“There’s such energy, when the entire ensemble perform together, but these are world class musicians, and the tracks on Painted really demonstrate how skilful their individual playing is.”

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble’s Painted (SAE Records) is released on Sunday, June 11.

Tickets for the gig at Alexander’s, Rufus Court are priced £8/£6 and are available from www.alexanderslive.com

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