County Durham’s loudest festival is back – with brilliant bands and musicians heading to the region for a ten-day celebration of all things brass.
BRASS 2018 takes place from Friday 13 to Sunday 22 July and this year sees a special focus on female performers, starting with Women and Brass on the festival’s opening night.
Led by 74-year-old drummer Crissy Lee – a member of the pioneering all-girl Ivy Benson Band popular during the Second World War – the concert will feature a big band of leading female jazz musicians including Swedish internet sensation Gunhild Carling.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues at Durham County Council, which commissions the festival, said: “BRASS is a fantastic event for the county, attracting tens of thousands of music fans to the area and bringing hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy.
“It has a well-deserved reputation and I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s festival once again raise the bar and build on the success of previous years, bringing together an absolutely cracking line-up of big names and local talent and showcasing the very best music from around the world.”
Festival artistic director Paul Gudgin said: “The 2018 festival provides us a great opportunity to celebrate the increasing prominence of female musicians in all forms of brass music.
“It is a real privilege for us to showcase many of the leading female musicians from the classical, jazz and the brass band world and we are confident BRASS 2018 will be another fantastic event.”
The 12th annual festival boasts a true international flavour, with Australian trumpeter James Morrison, New Orleans’ all-female jazz band Shake ‘Em Up and street bands from France, Serbia and Spain.
The ever popular streets of brass will return to Durham City, while parks across the county will host this year’s Big Brass Bash events where revellers can enjoy a real party atmosphere with the ever-popular street bands.
The festival will conclude with a large free concert in Wharton Park where the Reg Vardy Band will be joined by a big choir to perform Carl Orff’s instantly recognisable Carmina Burana – better known as the X Factor judges’ music.
Other events new for this year include a competition for brass musicians to create a composition using a live looping phone app and a new commission inspired by Quentin Blake’s BFG exhibition, which will be on display at Bowes Museum during the festival.
A Street Ceilidh led by a Scottish street band promises to have people up on their feet and dancing, while the Scottish Swing Orchestra will join with a local chorus for swing versions of Hollywood musical tunes from films including The Sound of Music, Chicago and Hairspray.
West End star Liza Pulman will also join with the Brighouse and Rastick Band, the UK’s number one championship band, in a unique collaboration celebrating the songs of Barbara Streisand.
And once again the festival will see bands head out into schools across the county, with special performances for over 15,000 children, and pupils given the chance to have a go at playing brass instruments for themselves.