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Durham’s BRASS Festival 2015 bold programme revealed

New York Brass Band (3) PixlrBRASS 16 – 19 July 2015

This year’s Durham BRASS Festival promises four jam-packed days of every kind of brass music from traditional to funk, and not just music either. From festival favourites and the anticipated to the totally unexpected BRASS 2015 is set to entertain audiences in a celebration of all things brass from classical and traditional brass sounds, to hip hop, poetry, photography, apps and cartoons. From 16 – 19 July events will happen throughout the day and throughout the city, and for the first time the Festival springs an official Fringe, programmed by Durham’s arts collective, Empty Shop. Headlining gigs from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals with a sooped up brass back line, and award-winning folk heroes Home Service are popular big names set to bring people flocking to the city. BBC 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq and 9 ground-breaking bands mix DJ sets and live performances from 12noon through the day and the night at the Gala Theatre on Saturday 18 July in Alternative BRASS. The bands who all take the fundamentals of brass to create their own unique high-energy sounds crossing funk, hip-hop, Balkan, ska, and contemporary jazz include Hackney Colliery Band, Hope and Social, New York Brass Band, Land of the Giants, Renegade Brass Band, Trans-Siberian March Band, Booka Brass Band, KIOKO and Les Traine-Savates.. Warming everyone up for BRASS, one of the UK’s trendiest bands Hope and Social teams up with New York Brass Band to deliver 6 shows over 6 nights in 6 locations around the Durham area kicking off on 13 July. The Big BRASS Bash tour brings music, mayhem and a proper party to Consett, Shildon, Trimdon Village, Seaham, and Spennymoor and culminates back in Durham at Alternative BRASS. They’ll be teaching the locals, getting everyone up on stage, being joined by special guests, and Hope&Social will be trying to write a new song every day to make each night extra special. The Big BRASS Bash will be outdoors, free and a whole load of fun! The festival will bring the cream of the crop of traditional brass bands to Durham with performances from some of the world’s highest ranking bands including Tredegar Town Band and Cory Band. A weekend of brass music from around the world, Streets of BRASS fills Durham City with infectious brass sounds from 7 bands from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Sicily and the UK over Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 July, all for free. BRASS marks its first ever classical strand with the Dunedin Consort, Red Note Ensemble, His Magestys Sagbutts and Cornetts and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain performing new work and beautiful old music including the Dunedin Consort’s performance of Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 in the iconic surroundings of Durham Cathedral. Committed to supporting new work and artists living today, BRASS’s new commissions and co-commissions range from new classics to apps, and include new work from Lucy Pankhurst, Pete Churchill, Ian McMillan, young photographer Rob Bowman, artists Haroon Mirza and Pete Evans, sculptor Rob Olins and composer and sound artist Ryan Cockerham. Local musicians play a strong role in the Festival with Durham's Reg Vardy Band playing, and young musicians are well represented in the Durham County Youth Choir and Durham Youth County Big Band. And the Gala Big Band, established in 2014 to encourage North East musicians of all backgrounds and ages to play together, will perform classics from Count Basie and Duke Ellington as well as new music by band leader Paul Edis at The Witham in Barnard Castle. Newcastle based Hannabiel and Midnight Blue will also be on hand to get everyone dancing with their high energy performance at Durham Town Hall. The major role of brass in swing bands gets its nod in the tribute concert Benny Goodman & Glenn Miller at Carnegie Hall 1939 with Pete Long’s great orchestra recreating a fabulous night in New York. As part of the festival’s BRASS:Pitch commissions, a new app Dérive by acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza will launch which uses the accelerometer in your smartphone and a bundle of brass music suggested by and recorded with brass bands from Durham relating to marching tunes played at events such as the Durham Miners’ Gala. Users can record their own journey on foot anywhere in the world, playing with the tempo and timbre of the music according to the gait of their walk and the length of their stride to create new and unique versions of the music. Available free on the Apple App Store and Google Play from 1 July. Also from 1 July, young photographer Rob Bowman documents the still surviving bandstands of County Durham and places them in public spaces across Durham City, including Durham Railway Station, the DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery and Durham Cathedral. Bandstand sets out to challenge perceptions and understanding of brass music by exploring its historical and contemporary social contexts, and by expanding the boundaries of its genre. Sculptor Rob Olins and composer and sound artist Ryan Cockerham have collaborated with Ferryhill Town Band to create Things That Aren’t There, a four channel sound installation in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral from 10 July which invites us to experience brass music in a unique way moving between invisible sweet spots. Cross art-form collaborations include the Bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan, crack cartoonist Tony Husband, musician Luke Carver Goss and Tredegar Town Band coming together in The Last Train to Elvet. Through poetry, music and live cartooning, this re-telling of the circus coming to town on board the last train to arrive at Elvet station in 1953 is bound to be full of fun and trickery. Cross continent collaborations see Indian classical music and brass combine in Just A Vibration. The performance is the brainchild of Shri Sriram who has played Glastonbury, Jools Holland and the London Jazz Festival as well as creating music for the soundtrack for Life of Pi. He’ll be joined by Hammonds Saltaire Band, sitar player Jasdeep Degun, and saxophone and bass clarinet legend Ben Castle who has worked with Sting, Radiohead and Tony Bennett. Tickets for BRASS 2015 are now available at or by calling the box office on 03000 266 600. Follow the conversation on #durhambrass Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said, “BRASS 2015 has really raised the bar. Building on the success of previous years, this year, we have an absolutely cracking line-up of big names and the very best of a broad range of brass music from around the world. And local musicians are also well represented, taking centre stage at many events. “Innovative and bold, BRASS 2015 will show off the stunning city of Durham by presenting performances in many varied spaces from Gala Theatre to the Cathedral and in the streets. I hope people will come from near and far to join together in enjoying the buzz, the energy and a lot of fun.”