The performers of this year’s Durham BRASS have spoken of their excitement ahead of its return after two years.
The festival, which is expected to be bigger and better than ever, will see two of the flagship performances take place in the spectacular setting of Durham Cathedral as the UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts Richard Hawley with NASUWT Riverside Band and LYR with The Easington Coal Strip.
As one of the summer highlights of Durham County Council’s annual program of events, the festival supports the county’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025 and demonstrates the importance of a rich cultural scene and momentum for economic growth.
BRASS returns from Sunday July 10 through Sunday July 17, and on Friday July 15, LYR’s collaboration with The Easington Colliery Band will commemorate and celebrate the county’s “Grade D” villages in Firm As A Rock We Stand.
The work is the result of a co-commission by Durham BRASS and the Durham Miners’ Association and combines poetic spoken passages, vocal melodies and imaginative film production alongside one of the best brass bands in the North.
LYR is made up of musician Richard Walters, multi-instrumentalist Patrick Pearson and author and current British Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who visited the Durham Miners’ Association for an insight into the history of Grade D villages. 1950s, these villages were said to have no economically viable future. Residents were encouraged to move elsewhere to allow for the demolition of then-abandoned communities, which led to a decades-long battle with authorities at the time.
Armitage said: “I had never heard of it before, but as soon as I was told the story I knew it was what I wanted to write about. It’s very lively and very warm, it appeals to people’s sense of injustice.
“I was able to talk to people who lived in category D villages, which was absolutely vital. I’ve heard many different stories, as you’d expect, but many have spoken of how since being classified as Category D, their village has struggled to escape that identity.
And, in what promises to be a unique and memorable concert the following night (Saturday July 16), Richard Hawley will play a lead role alongside the NASUWT Riverside Band.
Hawley has performed on some of the biggest stages in her prestigious career, recording eight critically acclaimed albums and collaborating with Paul Weller, Elbow and the Artic Monkeys, among others.
This collaboration for BRASS will see his own works reinterpreted with the support of County Durham’s traditional colliery band, NASUWT Riverside Band.
Other artists playing throughout the weekend include two-time MOBO Award winner YolanDa Brown, the multi-award-winning Black Dyke Band, tweed-clad mighty brass Old Dirty Brasstards and Afro-funk-based electronic band in London Ibibio Sound Machine.
The festival will also feature a host of community workshops, free concerts in schools, communities and care homes across the county and a full schedule of lively street bands.
Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet Member for Economy and Partnerships, said: “We look forward to welcoming such high-profile artists to iconic Durham Cathedral as part of this year’s BRASS. The festival aims to celebrate the rich history of brass instruments and to champion new works by contemporary artists. What a spectacular setting to present the combination of traditional big band music and more unique interpretations.
“This diverse offering reflects our commitment to culture here in County Durham and is a perfect example of why we would make a fantastic UK City of Culture 2025. We look forward to seeing communities come together again to celebrate BRASS and enjoy memorable moments. moments.”
Also back and coinciding with the BRASS festival is the ever-popular Durham City Run on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th July. The festival will see hundreds of competitors racing through the city center accompanied by live music from BRASS street bands.
For tickets and more information visit www.brassfestival.co.uk