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Wallace and Gromit brought to life in Durham Brass Festival performance

Apr 6, 2023 | Leisure & Lifestyle

Audiences can enjoy a live music experience featuring an animated classic and take a trip down memory lane in two exciting performances at Durham Brass Festival.

Organisers of the Durham County Council-run festival have announced two more acts for Durham Brass, which will see a week of spectacular performances, new commissions, free concerts, community activities, and lively street bands from Sunday 9 to Sunday 16 July.

Closing the festival are two renowned brass bands which will each be giving a unique performance at Gala Durham on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, bringing brass music and films together for a new experience.

Playing on Saturday 15 July is contest brass band The Fairey Band, which was founded in 1937 by a group of employees at the Fairey Aviation Works in Stockport.

Since those early days, the band has won every elite event on the contest calendar, including the National Championships of Great Britain on nine occasions, the British Open 16 times, and was the first band ever to complete the ‘treble’ when it was crowned European Champions in 1994.

Known for its unique ‘Fairey sound’, the band has teamed up with animators Aardman to bring a special performance to Gala to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers.

Audiences can watch the adventures of Wallace and his beloved canine companion as they overcome an unexpected house guest in the short film, while the drama will be enhanced by The Fairey Band as it plays the film’s accompaniment.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are extremely excited to be welcoming a whole host of talented musicians and performers back to County Durham for Durham Brass Festival. This includes two incredibly renowned contest bands, which will both be showing why they are household names in the brass world in two exciting film experiences at Gala.

“We are committed to delivering exciting events and cultural opportunities for people as part of our aim to make County Durham the culture county. This ambition has raised our profile as a county, enabling us to secure these world-renowned performers for our festivals.”

On Sunday 16 July, Durham Brass welcomes a performance from another championship band, the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.

Formed over 125 years ago through public donations from the townsfolk of the villages that give the band its name, Brighouse & Rastrick features consistently in major contest prize lists and has maintained a top three position in the World Brass Band Rankings.

For Durham Brass, the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band will be involved in a special Gala event, Echoes of the North, co-commissioned by No Dots and Durham Brass with support from the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund for Organisations, and Arts Council England.

Made from more than a hundred fragments of archive film, Echoes of the North is a new silent film in which audiences can travel down the highways and byways of northern life over a century ago, exploring its industries and rural life, wartimes and festivals, national holidays and huge city-wide occasions.

The 60-minute film is accompanied by a score written by acclaimed composer, musician, writer and broadcaster Neil Brand.

The score is the first ever all-brass soundtrack for a silent film, and will be played live by the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.

Neil said: “If ever a marriage of two art forms was long overdue, it is this coming together of silent film and brass band music.

“The wonderful, resonant images of people going about their lives, work, play and conflict in the first 30 years of the last century spring to life with the timeless beauty of the brass band sound, music that evolves and matches every contrasting mood for us today, just as it could have done when these scenes were shot.

“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to create scores for these images, and to work with one of the greatest bands in the world.”

Ahead of Echoes of the North, audiences will also be treated to a concert of brass band favourites.

For more information about Durham Brass and to book tickets for both performances, visit www.brassfestival.co.uk