FEATURE: Durham BRASS festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: YolanDa Brown

Following a two-year hiatus, Durham BRASS festival makes its much awaited comeback this July, with some of the UK’s finest musicians booked to perform in iconic locations.

A highlight of the city’s summer for anyone who’s witnessed past BRASS events, its 2022 programme is bursting with shows which celebrate brass music in its many forms – so don’t miss out by thinking it only encompasses traditional brass bands, because with a line-up which includes a Mercury Music Prize and Brit Award nominee, a band fronted by the current British Poet Laureate and the usual energetic street bands, there’s definitely something for everyone on the bill.

As gig venues go, you can’t get much more impressive than Durham Cathedral, which will play host shows from Richard Hawley, who will be re-interpreting his own songs with the backing of traditional Durham colliery band the NASUWT Riverside Brass Band (Saturday 16th), and LYR, which comprises singer Richard Walters, producer Patrick J Pearson and is fronted by poet Simon Armitage with the Easington Colliery band (Friday 15th).

its 2022 programme is bursting with shows which celebrate brass music in its many forms

Meanwhile the Gala Theatre welcomes a variety of performances including Afro-funk band Ibibio Sound Machine (Thursday 14th), the super fun sounds of Old Dirty Brasstards (Friday 15th), reggae, jazz and soul fusion artist YolanDa Brown (Saturday 16th) and what promises to be a special performance from local favourites Field Music (Sunday 10th) – for Binding Time: Songs and Stories From The Durham Coalfields, Sunderland’s Peter and David Brewis have researched and written songs inspired by coal mining in the region and the struggles of mining communities. The songs have been arranged to be performed by Field Music and their band along with a seven-piece brass section from the NASUWT Riverside Band. Also at the venue, deaf performance artist and choreographer Chisato Minamimura premieres her film exploring the history of brass music in County Durham from her perspective as a deaf artist, and also runs a workshop around sensory perception and human encounters (Gala Studio, Tuesday 12th).

Outside of the city itself, conductor, musicologist and composer Ben Lunn presents an exploration of the history and culture of the region with his new song cycle for voice and brass at Ushaw Chapel (Wednesday 13th), the popular Streets of Brass event returns on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, with a host of world-renowned artists spreading joy throughout County Durham, playing mini gigs and hosting workshops in schools and care homes in the local community.

The much-loved Big Brass Bash evenings will also be taking place in local parks (dates and venues to be confirmed) bringing free music to local communities who may not otherwise engage with it. Starring old favourites like Spain’s Artistas del Gremio, all-female Italian street band Girlesque and Leeds band Back Chat Brass as well as new faces from across the world, the week of fun culminates in the usual fabulous and free finale party bringing all the street bands together in Wharton Park from 6pm on the Saturday night.

Durham may have lost out on its City of Culture bid, but it’s still determined to shout about its reputation as a cultural hotspot and create unforgettable experiences for everyone.

BRASS Festival takes place at various venues in Durham from Sunday 10th-Sunday 17th July.

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