I may have mentioned before in this Forester column the great work by the Friends of Scarr Bandstand in restoring this historic Forest musical venue. Recently the Friends were awarded ‘The Golden Glove’ by Forestry England for ‘an eclectic programme of music and theatre over the summer’ and for developing the bandstand and surrounding area.

The Scarr Bandstand lies in a magical atmospheric area, hidden in the woods behind Sling Football club’s ground on the B4228 between St Briavels and Coleford but well signposted. This area includes Perrygrove miniature railway, Puzzle Wood, Clearwell caves, the appropriately named Orepool pub, Sling Football club’s pitch, Roman iron mines, and is close to the camping site at the Bearse just outside St Briavels. The hidden Mork Brook weaves its way mysteriously from the Bearse camping site through a hidden forest area and a series of tufa dams, plunge pools and connecting stream sections on its way through Mork and on to the River Wye.

The Scarr had been abandoned to nature after its heyday before the War, when local bands would march there from their village to perform. But now it is restored to its former status as a musical venue, and also as a theatre for irreverent but very funny takes on items from English literature. The delightfully subversive Pantaloons group will perform their interpretation of Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ on 28th July at 5.00pm, and the ‘Rain or Shine Theatre Company’ will perform ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ also at 5pm on 18th August.

There will also be a big celebration of Forest Band music. They don’t march to the Scarr now, but leading Forest Brass bands will demonstrate that this music is still an important part of Forest culture. Tickets for these two events are £12 and £8 for 16 year olds and younger.

The summer season starts with the Rising Stars event on 29th June, 2-5pm, which gives rising brass band stars an opportunity to play in public for the first time. Junior players from the Ross, Lydbrook and Lydney training bands with the new Forest of Dean Training band will perform, and the bands will join together to perform a mighty mass finale.

On 21st July there will be a free musical workshops for children with special needs conducted by the Forest of Dean Brass Band and the great Djabot African Drummers in the morning, and a free concert by young musicians in the afternoon.

Theres’s a ‘Musical Extravaganza’ with the Rainbow Steel Band, the Djabot African Drummers and the great Urban Freeway Rhythm & Blues band on 4th August, with the season’s farewell concert on 24th August with the Brass Bands from Parkend, Bream and the AW Parker Drybrook Bands.