This summer County Durham will be hosting a very loud celebration of all things brass.

Some of the world’s top brass-orientated bands and musicians will be performing at BRASS 2018, a ten-day extravaganza from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd July.

This year’s BRASS festival will see a special focus on female musicians, beginning with the Women and Brass event on the opening night.

Women and Brass will feature a band led by 74-year-old drummer Chrissy Lee – a member of the ground-breaking all-girl ensemble the Ivy Benson Band, which was popular during World War Two. The concert will also showcase the talents of a Swedish all-female jazz band, which will include the internet star Gunhild Carling.

Gunhild Carling
Gunhild Carling

BRASS 2018 will also enjoy a truly international line-up. Musicians set to perform include Australian trumpeter James Morrison, all-female New-Orleans band Shake ‘Em Up, and street bands from Spain, France and Serbia.

Durham City will host the Streets of Jazz event while parks across County Durham will play host to Big Bash concerts, where revellers can enjoy a party atmosphere to the sound of street bands.

Other events will include a Scottish street ceilidh and the Scottish Swing Orchestra presenting swing takes on a number of tunes from Hollywood musicals.

Standard Bank National Youth JAZZ festival 2017
James Morrison at the Standard Bank National Youth JAZZ festival 2017

The country’s number one championship brass band, the Brighouse and Rastick Band, will team up with West End star Liza Pullman to perform the songs of Barbara Streisand.

BRASS will also see a competition among musicians to create a composition using a live looping phone app, and a commission inspired by Quintin Blake’s BFG exhibition will be on display at Bowes Museum.

As with last year’s BRASS festival, bands will be visiting local schools to perform to a total of over 15,000 pupils while also giving kids the chance to have a go on brass instruments themselves.

BRASS will conclude with a free concert in Wharton Park, during which the Reg Vardy Band will be joined by a choir to perform Carmina Burana – famous for being the X Factor judges’ music.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and rural issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “BRASS is a fantastic event for the county, attracting tens of thousands of music fans to the area and bringing hundreds of thousands of pounds into the local economy.”

“It has a well-deserved reputation and I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s festival once again raise the bar and build on the success of previous years, bringing together an absolutely cracking line-up of big names and local talent and showcasing the very best music from around the world.”

The artistic director of the BRASS festival, Paul Gudgin, said, “The 2018 festival provides us a great opportunity to celebrate the increasing prominence of female musicians in all forms of brass music.”

“It is a real privilege for us to showcase many of the leading female musicians from the classical, jazz and brass band world and we are confident that BRASS 2018 will be another fantastic event.”

It will be the tenth time that County Durham has played host to the BRASS festival. BRASS – supported by Arts Council England and run by Durham County Council – seeks to change perceptions about brass music and develop new audiences for the genre.

To learn more or to book tickets, please visit      

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