Record-breaking crowds have experienced the excitement and diversity of 21st century brass thanks to County Durham’s liveliest music festival.
More than 40,000 people experienced this year’s Durham BRASS, a ten-day musical extravaganza which culminated in a free open-air party at Wharton Park in Durham on Sunday.
The Big Brass Bash and Big Brass Bus, meanwhile, brought the party to the people in Newton Aycliffe (pictured above), Bishop Auckland, Crook, Shildon, Trimdon, Lanchester, Chester-le-Street, Spennymoor and Stanhope.
There was also a special performance in Peterlee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Pavilion, while the Big Brass Party provided another opportunity for people to enjoy a picnic and live music at Wharton Park.
In total, 42,442 people joined in with the festival, including almost 16,000 pupils at 82 schools.
From salsa, swing and big band, to choral masterpieces, dance music and Afro-beat, the festival catered for all tastes and ages and celebrated the rich history and versatility of brass music.
The launch event, Promised Land by Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, was a perfect example of just how diverse modern brass can be. Located in a secret Durham City venue only revealed on the evening of the performance, the gig was inspired by the impromptu parties of the 1990s, with a set list of club classics and atmospheric lighting.
Streets of Brass, meanwhile, saw street bands from all over the world descend on Durham City for two days of free musical mayhem.
Thousands of people gathered in the Market Place and other locations to enjoy performances by crowd-pleasing acts including Loud Noises, Back Chat Brass, Artistas Del Gremio and Oompah Brass.
Cllr Joy Allen, cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “Over the last ten days the excitement and magic of brass has spread to towns and villages across the county and I have been blown away by the response we have had.
“It has been wonderful to see people of all ages – from young school children to older care home residents – being uplifted and inspired by brass music.
“The free parties in streets and parks brought communities together, while also attracting visitors and boosting the economy. That is why investing in the arts is so important; it raises aspirations, creates a sense of civic pride and builds on County Durham’s reputation as a cultural destination.”
The theme of this year’s festival was Brass and Health, and a day of workshops and discussions around the topic gave brass players and anyone interested in the physical and emotional benefits of music the chance to find out more.
The council’s community arts team also joined forces with Beamish Museum and the Alzheimer’s Society for a special project called Dance Hall Days.
People living with dementia and their carers attended special workshops where they looked at old photographs and records, and discussed the role music has played in their lives. The memories this provoked inspired a concert at Beamish’s new 1950s Welfare Hall.