30 years of free concerts celebrated at gala event

A special concert has been held at Chelmsford’s Civic Theatre to celebrate one of the city’s longest-running community events. Composer Jeffery Wilson, who has been running free lunchtime concerts for the last three decades, was honoured during the show, which included music from some of the series’ most popular performers.


Jeffery, a renowned saxophonist, started the concert with contemporary quartet ‘Saxology’; the group played at the first ever show on 11 September 1989 and are well known to regulars of the lunchtime concerts. Singer Dee Mardi performed two songs, which she had co-written with Jeffery and clarinet group ‘Exchanging Blows’ entertained the audience with a set that included ‘Oh, Lady be Good!’ and ‘Misty’. Four different pianists were also on the bill, including John Human, Chris Weston, Sam Edwards and Pete Marshall.


Many of the musicians who appeared were taught by Jeffery himself, who created these events to give his students the opportunity to perform outside of the music schools and institutions they studied in. Jeffery says that for him, music is about people and communities: “If you can’t perform in real venues to real people, then all the instrumental techniques and skills in the world don’t mean much. When musicians play in the Cramphorn, it is a different gig to the sort of performance they might give at a music college or conservatoire and it is a lesson in how to engage people through your work. It’s also a great way for performers to meet and support each other. “


At the end of the concert the Mayor of Chelmsford, Cllr Bob Massey, presented Jeffery with a book of testimonials from performers and audience members and paid tribute to his contribution to civic life in Chelmsford. Jeffery, who is currently writing a thesis for The Guildhall School of Music about being a composer in the community, has plans to expand the lunchtime concerts with talks and mixed media alongside musical performances.


Free lunchtime concerts run at the Cramphorn Studio most Wednesdays at 1pm, with relaxed performances at 2.15pm on the last Wednesday of every month. Further information can be found at: https://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres/whats-on/music/lunchtime-concerts/.