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Finals bars in place for Durham BRASS festival

The festival that celebrates all things BRASS will soon take place in County Durham — and there are plenty of attractions on offer.

Durham
  Durham BRASS has a host of attractions to entice you to County Durham

The final touches are being put in place for the forthcoming Durham BRASS — the festival celebration of all things musically brass.

Some of the UK's most successful brass bands will be on show at County Durham's international celebration of brass music which this year runs from July 13th to 22nd, and coincides with the 134th Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday 14th July.

Brass band soul and sounds

Brass bands are the traditional sound of the gala — also known as 'The Big Meeting' — although there will also be plenty of innovative musical collaboration on show thanks to the approach taken by Festival Director, Paul Gudgin, such as a concert featuring the NASUWT Riverside Band and Northern Soul specialists Keep the Faith, fronted by singer Sarah Collins.

The former East Durham pit village of Easington has been identified as a hotspot of Northern Soul, so make sure you go along to hear the duo at Easington Social Welfare Centre on July 18th.

In addition, National Champion, Brighouse & Rastrick will be joined by singer Liza Pulman for a celebration of the songs of Barbra Streisand at Durham's Gala Theatre on July 21st, whilst on the festival's closing day (July 22nd), there will be an afternoon concert at the same venue (3.00pm) with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band.

Reg Vardy Band will perform later the same night (6.00pm) at Wharton Park, Durham, for the free festival finale, featuring a performance of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' alongside the Durham BRASS Festival Chorus.

Different genres

The festival celebrates brass music across different genres, including jazz and classical.

It begins with a concert by Crissy Lee and her jazz/swing outfit at the Gala Theatre, Durham, on July 13th in a tribute to Ivy Benson, whose pioneering all-woman big band became hugely popular during the Second World War.

Gunhild Carling, the renowned Swedish jazz trumpet star, will also share billing in the concert called 'Women and Brass'.

The Scottish Swing Orchestra ('BRASS Goes to Hollywood', July 15th) and The James Morrison Quartet (July 16th) are sure to be popular attractions at the Gala Theatre.

Meanwhile, if classical music appeals, there's 'Brass & Bach' in Durham Cathedral on July 20th and 'Pictures at an Exhibition' at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, on July 17th when the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble will perform Mussorgsky's work as well as premiere a new composition by Nigel Hess inspired by Roald Dahl's 'The BFG'.

These concerts are ticketed, but much of the music will be free.

Some of the UK's most successful brass bands will be on show at County Durham's international celebration of brass music which this year runs from July 13th to 22nd, and coincides with the 134th Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday 14th July4BR

Streets of Brass

On July 21st and 22nd (11.00am to 5.00pm), Durham city centre will reverberate to the sounds of bands with the popular 'Streets of Brass'. Among those entertaining will be the Shake Em Up Jazz Band from New Orleans, Reel Brass from Scotland and the flamboyant Artistas del Gremio, from Spain.

A festival innovation this year was a competition bringing together brass music and digital phone technology.

Trombone Day

Brass musicians were invited to show what they could do with live looping apps. Four compositions were chosen and will be premiered in BRASS Loops at Durham Town Hall on July 19th.
And for fans of the trombone, July 22nd has been declared 'Trombone Day' — organised by the British Trombone Society.

It will see a day of workshops and recitals at Durham Town Hall will be led by Katy Jones, Principal Trombone of the Halle Orchestra, and culminate in a 'Streets of Brass' performance by massed trombones.

Also present on the day will be John Kenney, from the Guildhall School of Music, who will demonstrate a transatlantic live looping performance.

Tickets and information:

Find venue and ticket details online at: www.brassfestival.co.uk

Box office: 03000 266600.

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Andrew White

MA(Ed Man), B Ed (Hons), BBCM, ADNCB, PGCE, Cert Ed
Conductor, Arranger, Adjudicator & Educationist