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Brave New World to be conquered with technological first at Durham BRASS Festival

Two bands 560 miles apart in Durham and Copenhagen will join forces thanks to technology to play together in a new world premiere work this weekend.

Riverside
  The NASUWT Riverside Band will anchor the Durham side of the 560 mile musical link

The audience at Durham's Gala Theatre on Friday (July 19th) will be entertained by two brass bands — but only the NASUWT Riverside Band, conducted by Dave Roberts, will actually be present.

Meanwhile, the same phenomenon will occur in a concert in Copenhagen at the very same time, where only the city's Concord Brass Band will be on stage.

Global Brass

That is because 'Global Brass' will be brought to the world by testing LoLa (Low Latency minimal time Lapse) audio visual technology that will ensure that the audience in each venue will hear music played by the band in front of them but also by the band 560 miles away on a multi-media screen.

Each will perform an individual set broadcast in traditional manner, but at one point they will actually perform as a massed band for the world premiere of the aptly-named 'Brave New World' – the images and sound synchronised together.

Positive response

Paul Gudgin, artistic director of the established festival run by Durham County Council, was alerted to LoLa by Paul Ferguson, associate professor of audio engineering at Edinburgh Napier University.

He recalls that his question to the Prof of, "Do you feel this technology is at a point where we might be able to showcase it in a public way?"was met in the most positive manner, as he explained to 4BR.

"It has been around for a few years but up until now it has been used in an academic environment. We decided between us that it would be interesting to see if it could be put to use in a public setting at Durham BRASS."

Exciting venture

Paul says Edinburgh Napier and the Royal College of Music have been in the vanguard of exploring the musical potential of LoLa, and so he is excited by the venture.

"As with anything involving cutting edge technology there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly, you want to shout about it because it's exciting and potentially groundbreaking; on the other hand, inevitably there are issues involved so you kind of want to get it under your belt before you shout about it too much."

He added: "If it goes well, I think our hope is that it'll spawn lots of other collaborations, whether in brass, jazz, classical or rock and pop.

You'd hope others will look at this and think of ways in which performers in various locations might be able to perform effectively together."

You'd hope others will look at this and think of ways in which performers in various locations might be able to perform effectively togetherPaul Gudgin, Artistic Director

Grand Shield winners

Paul suggested anyone who finds the idea remotely outlandish might care to reflect on the popularity of operatic and theatrical productions live-streamed to cinemas around the country.

For the 25 brass players of the 2019 Grand Shield champion NASUWT Riverside Band, 'Global Brass' will be an exciting challenge.

"I don't think this has ever been done before so it's probably a world first in terms of brass bands but the Riverside Band are known for being very diverse in what we do,"said. Tony Thompson.

"In the past at the brass festival we've played with an Indian band and an Indian guitar player. We enjoy doing projects that are different for a brass band."

Tony, who is on the Durham BRASS steering committee, had no hesitation in putting the Riverside outfit forward for the LoLa experiment and suggested the Concord Brass Band as the overseas partner, as he knew its conductor, Jacob Vilhelm Larsen.

Jacob composed 'Brave New World', a 10-minute piece constructed around 'Nimrod' from Elgar's 'Enigma Variations'.

Tony added: "We got the music and have rehearsed it, and will have a technical link-up before the event to test the technology. There are separate parts for Band A and Band B to be played at the same time, so it has to work!"

Pines of Rome

In addition to the world premiere other works that will be connected together on the night include 'Pines of Rome' and 'Water of Tyne', a perennial North East favourite but new to the band from Denmark.

After the 'Global Brass' final applause has ended the music will go on with a second, late night concert called 'Global Jam Session' when Edinburgh-based Norwegian jazz guitarist Haftor Medboe and his Will of the People quartet will link up with Norwegian trumpet player Gunnar Halle who lives in Oslo.

It, too, promises to deliver live musical collaborations separated by many miles to an audience seated comfortably in Durham.

Thanks to David Whetstone

Further details

Find ticket details for both these Friday, July 19th concerts at www.brassfestival.co.uk and also the remaining events at the festival which runs until July 21st.

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