Musicians flock to join Chester orchestra


Gil Lightfoot

THE MAN who created a community orchestra for Chester residents more than a decade ago has been overwhelmed by its success.

Starting in 2000 with just a handful of members, the organisation now has more than 100 musicians.

So many musicians of all ages and abilities want to join the community orchestras set up by local orchestral conductor and musician Jan Modelski that a third is now on the cards.

Jan, of Barrow, believes playing music should be accessible to every member of the community and founded the Jan Modelski Community Orchestras in 2000 with just a handful of players.

That has now grown to more than 100 musicians, split between an introductory orchestra and a more advanced ‘main’ orchestra.

Last November the orchestra had progressed to a level where it was invited to host one of the concerts in the Chester Music Society Concert Season – performed in front of a packed house of music lovers and supporters. The concert received high acclaim and was a fantastic achievement for the amateur musicians.

“I am absolutely passionate that any player, regardless of age, ability, instrument, confidence-level or experience has access to playing music,” said Jan. “There is no audition to join the orchestras and everyone is given an extremely warm welcome – no-one is turned away. A large number of our current players have been with the orchestra for many years which I think speaks volumes in terms of the level of enjoyment it gives. My aim is always to make rehearsals fun and informal, while also making sure every musician becomes the best they can be.”

Jan also encourages the development of his musicians by giving them the opportunity to be trained in the skills of conducting and directing music ensembles, an aspect of musical development rarely on offer and which has consequently been welcomed by the musicians.

Originally from London, Jan has lived in the Chester and North Wales areas for more than 20 years and is a full time professional musician with many years’ experience as a conductor, performer and orchestral arranger. He is an established instrumental teacher and teaches most instruments to performance level. Several of his students have gone on to study music or enjoy successful careers as professional musicians.

Increasingly in demand as a conductor to various music groups and orchestras in the region, Jan has recently been appointed conductor and musical director to the Wirral Co-operative Orchestra.

He is also planning a number of other community-based music projects, including the setting up of a Chester youth symphony orchestra, which will give young orchestral musicians the chance to play in a full symphony orchestra setting. Still in the initial planning stages, he hopes it will be launched in the summer term of 2014.

For further information visit

See full story in the Chester Leader

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read