Best of brass

Artists performing at Durham's International Brass Festival.

Artists performing at Durham's International Brass Festival.

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The weekend saw the launch of Brass: Durham International Festival, which is now in full-swing across County Durham.

Organised by Durham County Council, the festival sees the sounds of Brass music ringing out around Durham until July 21.

Here are some of the highlights:

* Sunday – Gala Theatre welcomes the most famous colliery band in the world, Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Multiple winners of every brass accolade in existence and stars of the Bafta-nominated film Brassed Off, the band have been champions of traditional brass music since 1917.

Grimethorpe Colliery Band have worked on Walt Disney pictures and alongside contemporary artists such as The Beautiful South.

The event begins at 3pm, tickets are £19.50 and are available by calling 03000 266 600 or by booking online.

* Wednesday, July 17 – sample the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy in the heart of Durham City, when Italian super-brass ensemble Bandakadabra join forces with Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band for Italian Night.

Expect infectious musical styles combined with wild Balkan rhythms, Latino beats, traditional music and jazz sounds to ensure a lively evening. Italian Night with Bandakadabra takes place at Durham Town Hall, 7.30pm.

Tickets are £6/£4 (conc), available by calling 03000 266 600 or by booking online. The ticket price includes Italian-themed food.

* Thursday, July 18 – London Brass perform in the atmospheric setting of St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth.

Formed in 1986, they have gone from strength to strength including invites to perform for Royal and Papal audiences.

They now record and produce for their own label, London Brass Recordings and hold the position of Ensemble in Residence at the Royal College of Music, London.

The event begins at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10/£9 (conc), available by calling 03000 266 600 or by booking online.

* Friday, July 19 – Sunderland songwriter The Lake Poets, backed by Stanhope Silver Band at Gala Theatre, as they perform his specially-written work that draws inspiration from the band’s expertise and traditional musical heritage.

Martin, from East Herrington, is building a reputation nation-wide. He has shared stages with some of the most revered names in acoustic, folk and indie music including Ben Howard, The Futureheads and Jake Bugg. He has also opened for Tom Jones at Durham County Cricket Club.

The event begins at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10/£9 (conc), available by calling 03000 266 600 or by booking online.

* Friday, July 19 – Enjoy a unique opportunity to see inside one of Durham’s most iconic buildings, the headquarters of Durham Miners’ Association, with screenings of Will & Testament with Tony Benn and The Miners’ Hymns.

The headquarters at Red Hills is a fitting setting for this special double-bill screening.

Will & Testament is the candid and deeply-personal documentary about the life of charismatic socialist, and Labour’s longest serving MP, Tony Benn, portrayed through major UK events and upheavals.

An exclusive 30-minute preview of this film, which is due for general release next year, will be followed by a personal appearance of Tony Benn himself.

The Miners’ Hymns provides homage in film and music to the coal mining communities of North East England.

It’s a collaboration between renowned American filmmaker Bill Morrison and acclaimed Icelandic musician Johann Johannsson.

The screenings begin at 7pm. Tickets are £8/£6 (conc), available by calling 03000 266 600 or by booking online.

* Tickets are available for all Brass events online at www.brassfestival.co.uk where you can also view the full programme.