Making BRASS accessible to all

The return of this year’s BRASS festival will champion the talent of local artists alongside world-famous brass musicians.

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The return of this year’s BRASS festival will champion the talent of local artists alongside world-famous brass musicians.

One of the highlights of Durham County Council’s annual events programme, the festival promises to be bigger and better than ever when it returns from Sunday 10 to Sunday 17 July.

It will feature a host of spectacular performances, new commissions, school workshops, free concerts in communities and care homes and a full programme of lively street bands. An inclusive and accessible Bold as BRASS segment is also set to showcase the talent of disabled artists inspired by brass music.

Taking to the stage at Ushaw Historic House on Wednesday 13 July is Sunderland-born conductor, musicologist, teacher and composer, Ben Lunn, who will celebrate the culture and history of the region with three new sets of songs for voice and brass.

Sangs from Hyme, The Whispered Yakka and Symphony for me Marras, will explore notions of identity within pit communities and the wider north east.

Sangs from Hyme explores old and contemporary texts from the region and concludes by celebrating the impact of the Durham Big Meeting, while The Whispered Yakka is dedicated to the miners and pit villages and draws on the talent of north-east poet, Paul Summers, to dare for something bigger and better.

Symphony for me Marras amalgamates the musicians from the previous two works as part of a large exploration of the region’s culture and communities, focusing on key elements of the area’s shared past.

Lunn’s unique award-winning work, which is described as deeply moving, continues to focus on the interaction between society and music and how this can be used as a force for good.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said:

“Bold as BRASS is a fantastic addition to our incredible BRASS festival. Celebrating the rich history of brass, championing new works by contemporary artists and demonstrating the power of music to bring people together is what this festival is all about.

“We are, therefore, delighted that Ben is going to be part of this to reflect on our shared heritage and his working-class upbringing. The diversity of the Bold as BRASS programme also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to culture and cultural-led regeneration here in County Durham.

“Inclusivity was at the heart of our countywide bid for UK City of Culture 2025 and remains at the heart of our plans to deliver key projects within our shortlisted bid. It is so important to us that our many cultural events and activities are accessible to all our residents so that we can truly bring our communities together and create opportunities for all.”

BRASS is just one of the many cultural events and activities taking place in County Durham this year, demonstrating the council’s ongoing commitment to cultural-led regeneration. This includes delivering key projects within County Durham’s shortlisted UK City of Culture bid and raising the county’s profile as a fantastic place to live, work, visit and invest. It also includes progressing major capital projects, such as the redevelopment of the former DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery into a stunning new creative centre showcasing national and international contemporary art alongside collections that celebrate the county’s heritage.

To book tickets and to find out more about the festival, visit

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