AN EXCITING and eclectic line-up and mixture of live and online performances has been unveiled for Durham Brass festival this summer.

The programme from July 14 to 18 offers a vast range of brass-related live music with Covid-safe audiences across outdoor spaces and indoor venues throughout Durham, as well as online streaming from brass artists around the globe.

Taking inspiration from the brass band heritage of County Durham, the world-renowned festival weaves together musical genres into a vibrant and entertaining five-day festival taking place across the county.

With headline performances in iconic locations from some of the UK’s finest artists, to schools’ gigs, and an inclusive engagement programme, the Durham County Council festival culminates in a massive three-day free concert at Durham Racecourse.

This is a new addition to Brass, with the introduction of an outdoor stage funded by a Culture Recovery Fund grant from Arts Council England.

By staging more events outside, Brass will not only be safer and more accessible, but will channel the alfresco carnival vibe the music so often evokes.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are absolutely delighted Brass is taking place again this summer.

“As we emerge from one of the most difficult periods in our history, this feel-good festival is just what is needed to lift spirits and bring our communities together safely.

“The exciting and eclectic line-up and mixture of live and online performances means there really is something for everyone, while our community outreach programme at schools and care homes will ensure all generations can experience the thrill of 21st century brass.

“What’s more the festival will provide an immediate and much-needed boost for local retailers and hospitality businesses. At the same time, it will strengthen County Durham’s reputation as a place where culture and heritage are celebrated, attracting even more visitors and boosting the economy throughout the year.”

One of the highlights will be a very special one-off headline performance by Richard Hawley, who will be accompanied by the NASUWT Riverside Band in Durham Cathedral.

The year 2019 was a landmark one for songwriter Richard Hawley. His ninth studio album, Further, achieved his joint highest chart entry at number 3, he co-created a musical based on a collection of his songs which played at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, and he celebrated his twentieth anniversary as a solo artist. In the two decades that have elapsed since he jettisoned band life, first with The Longpigs and then as Pulp’s guitarist, the 52-year-old songwriter has forged one of the most singular careers in modern music.

Hawley has played some of the biggest stages during his prestigious career – recording eight critically acclaimed albums and collaborating with the Arctic Monkeys, Elbow and Paul Weller – but says the chance to play the Brass Festival offers something unique and a chance to make his music go “widescreen”.

Performing alongside Richard Hawley on the night are NASUWT Riverside Band. The band itself was founded in 1877 and was formerly known as the Newcastle Brown Ale Band. They rehearse in Pelton Fell, Chester-Le-Street and have an active diary of concerts and contests.

“I am genuinely excited. I think it’s going to be one of the most memorable gigs I’ve ever played” he says.

Since forming in 2004 the Sunderland duo Field Music have gained a reputation for an ambitious and intellectual approach to making music, their relentless creativity bringing them Mercury Award nominations, endless plaudits from the critics and, most famously of all, a thumbs up from Prince shortly before his death.

Brothers Pete and David Brewis, have been specially commissioned by Durham Brass festival in a new partnership with the Durham Miners Association to write and produce a dedicated composition focussed on the legacy of the Durham Mining Industry.

They will be playing the work twice at Redhills, a matinee and evening performance.

Ibibio Sound Machine will be opening for the Trevor Horn Band, while YolanDa Brown, the multi-award-winning saxophonist, will be headlining the Saturday outdoor daytime show at Durham Racecourse. Alongside YolanDa, audiences can enjoy a brassed-up performance from Cable Street Collective plus some of the best contemporary brass artists in the UK including Perhaps Contraption, Renegade Brass Band, New York Brass Band, London Street Brass Band & Riot Jazz Brass Band.

The Sunday afternoon performance along the bank of the River Wear sees Black Dyke Band performing at Durham BRASS festival for the first time.

The festival’s outreach programme with some of the country’s best street bands once ready to again share their skills in schools across the county. There will also be outdoor performances at care homes, and to celebrate the heritage of brass music in communities, a series of photographs by artist Rob Bowman featuring band stands will be displayed on bus shelters in Consett, Durham, Horden and Spennymoor.

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