Community Bands Together for Community Bands

(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

Strolling near the Chester Lido on a sunny summer evening, you hear a legion of cheerful trumpets and crashing cymbals. On Mahone Bay’s bustling thoroughfare, you catch snatches of saxophones playing an upbeat tune. In Bridgewater, the sound of trilling flutes is carried on the LaHave River.

In summer, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, and Chester offer weekly free concerts in their bandstands – Bridgewater offers free concerts at Shipyards Landing. There’s nothing more pleasant on a warm afternoon than enjoying beautiful outdoor music free of any cost. The cherry on top is that many of the performing acts are community bands featuring our friends, family members, and neighbors. 

Within our county, we boast three community bands: Mahone Bay Legion Swing Band, Chester Brass Band, and the Bridgewater Fire Department Band. Chester Brass Band and Bridgewater Fire Department Band were established in 1873 and 1868, respectively, coming only a few years after Canadian Confederation. Bridgewater’s Fire Department Band is the oldest of its kind in Canada.

David Friendly is a member of both the Mahone Bay Legion Swing Band and the Chester Brass Band. He’s also treasurer for the Chester Brass Band. For those who don’t dabble in community music, the assumption might be that bands like Chester Brass Band stick to a stodgy repertoire. But Chester Brass Band plays a wide variety of genres. Friendly says that they’ve even performed an arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody. The 30-or-so members range in age from high school students to musicians in their eighties. 

Barnacle Creative Director Carmen Cumming and I have dreams of continuing our county’s strong tradition in music.

We would like to start a Lunenburg community orchestra, and we hope that you can join us. If you are interested in learning more about this or would like to join the community orchestra, please email me at:


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