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Your guide to everything in North East

Culture Magazine - July 2014

Once again we have striven to get a quart into a pint pot. So many things to fit into one magazine!


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That, of course, is a tribute to all the people mounting exhibitions, organising gigs and generally making the North East a lively place to be.

It was fascinating to talk to Newcastle composer John Kefala-Kerr about his commission for the Durham brass festival, which somehow I always struggle to think of as Brass: Durham International Festival.

John took as his inspiration the record-breaking run of the steam locomotive Mallard in 1938. The result is Steamsong, a “multi-media opera” to be performed at the Gala Theatre.

It promises to be just one highlight of a very packed festival programme. While the title might not slip off the tongue, this is a festival that seems to go from strength to strength.

So much of what goes on in this region involves a lot of people. Whatever people might say to denigrate the arts, the truth is that the North East is no place for ivory towers.

As with the brass festival – packed with opportunities for everyone to get involved – so with the International Print Biennale. While it showcases the best of printmaking from around the world, it also offers a platform for North East artists to express themselves.

Given that opportunity, the people who make use of the facilities of Northern Print, in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, harked back to the hard-working employees of the Maling Pottery. Their exhibition at Hoults Yard is to be mounted where they grafted.

It’s heartening when arts projects provide a bridge between present and past to remind us of where we came from.

The railway theme also runs through another of these great North East projects. Inside you will read about Janet Plater’s new play, Stephenson 200, which marks the 200th anniversary of George Stephenson’s famous locomotive Blucher taking to the rails.

Again lots of people were involved in this project. For the youngsters it was evidently an interesting way to learn about history and connect with the past.

Yet another festival returns in July. This is the Brinkburn Music Festival, now under the directorship of Gulliver Ralston and with an interesting programme. One star turn will be The Queen’s Six, a musical group based at Windsor Castle.

And that reminds me. Newcastle Pride is big and getting bigger. One highlight is a play called Tea With the Old Queen. It should be a hoot and a happy foretaste of an action-packed three days.

Also read:

Culture magazine - June 2014

Culture magazine - May 2014

Culture magazine - April 2014

Culture magazine - March 2014

Culture magazine - February 2014

Culture magazine - December 2013 / January 2014


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer