Rich and vibrant tones of brass music could be heard right across County Durham last week, as organisers declare the success of Durham Brass Festival.
More than 30,000 people attended events across the county between Sunday 9 and Sunday 16 July, in a week packed with spectacular performances, new commissions, free concerts, community activities, and lively street bands.
The event brought in talented musicians from across the globe to perform energetic sets in the county’s streets while venues such as Gala Durham, Consett Empire and Durham Town Hall were transformed into lively gig settings.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Once again Durham Brass Festival has been a huge success, attracting tens of thousands of people to the county to enjoy the energy and variation of brass music, from lively contemporary to treasured traditional brass.
“We’re committed to our dynamic festival and events programme as part of our aim to make County Durham the culture county. Durham Brass does just this by creating opportunities for residents and visitors to experience brass music in accessible community settings. We hope everyone had a fantastic time at any of the events they attended, and we’re already looking forward to welcoming people back for next year.”
In total, 30,000 people joined in with Durham Brass, including 15,000 pupils at 63 schools.
Durham Brass kicked off on Sunday 9 July with ‘For Your Eyes Only: 70 Years of Bond with the Reg Vardy Band’ hosted by the new Fire Station venue in Sunderland – the first ever fringe event to be incorporated into the Durham Brass programme.
The festival also celebrated the lasting legacy of traditional brass with a number of concerts from renowned prize-winning colliery bands, including a showing of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers accompanied by The Fairey Band and a night at the movies with Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.
The fusion of brass with contemporary music was also explored in two lively gigs from New Zealand-based band Fat Freddy’s Drop at Gala Durham and Brassed On at Durham Town Hall – where emerging artists Tom A. Smith and Sisi performed their original music with brass bands Loud Noises and The Original Pinettes.
And the council’s Gala Workshops students showcased their talents at Gala Durham with Big Band on Broadway, performing show tune classics in a cabaret-style setting accompanied by Michael Lamb’s Strictly Smokin’ Big Band.
Big and Little Brass Bashes then brought the party to the people throughout the week, with a series of free community concerts in Shildon, Crook, Trimdon, Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor. Meanwhile hundreds of people braved the storms on Saturday to party in Wharton park.
The bashes culminated with Streets of Brass over the final weekend, 15 and 16 July, taking over Durham City with a two-day street band bonanza of festival favourites Artistas del Gremio, Backchat Brass, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Girlesque and many more.
Other highlights across the weekend saw local bands Consett Brass, Easington Colliery band and Stanhope Silver Band perform in six care homes as part of the community events programme, making the culture of brass accessible to all.
For more information about the festival, visit www.brassfestival.co.uk.