Colchester Waits (shawm band)
(Shawm Band)

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"I saw the audience faces change from surprise to delight soon after you started!"
Val Haines, Hadleigh Folk and Acoustic Music Nights.

From the Middle Ages through to the 18th Century, the Town of Colchester employed a band of musicians to entertain the populace and perform at civic occasions. These "Waits" would have walked the streets with shawms, sackbuts and other loud wind instruments, wearing blue liveries of the town. Now a group of a dozen or so local enthusiasts have got together to recreate the sounds and sights of those times.

The modern Colchester Waits play reproductions of the instruments of our forebears - shawms of various sizes, trumpets, sackbutts, cornetts, lysard, bagpipes, recorders fiddles and more. We perform historical music with energy and a sense not just of history but also of fun. We wear the livery of a 16th C band but our musical tastes range from the early Middle Ages to the present day and we do our best to provide a fitting tune for any occasion. We also regularly perform alongside Colchester Historical Dance to demonstrate the dance music of the 15th - 17th Centuries.

Over the last couple of years we've hosted the 5th International Festival of Town Pipers, inviting bands from across the UK and abroad to play in Colchester and at the Colchester Medieval Festival over the Jubilee bank holiday, visited Colchester's twin town Wetzlar in Germany to play at their Hessentag festival, become a regular fixture at Hedingham Castle on bank holiday weekends and taken part in a wide range of performances from formal concerts to town centre processions.

This year we are booked to play at a wide range of events and venues around Essex over the summer including Hedingham Castle and Colchester's Medieval Festival. We'll also be on our travels again to York to accompany the Mystery Play Wagons and to Gloucester for the 6th International Festival of Town Pipers. See our diary page for details.

We are always open to new members and are currently on the lookout for a percussionist and a trombonist. We rehearse monthly on Friday nights (usually the first Friday of the month). If you are interested in joining or booking the band please get in touch with Musical Director Lizzie Gutteridge.

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Colchester Waits by Tony Barton
picture © Antony Barton

Colchester Waits

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The Colchester Waits Shawm Band
are members of

International Guild of Town Pipers