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The first headline acts of Durham's BRASS 2015 festival have been announced

Durham's well-established annual brass festival is returning in July with some Fun Lovin' Criminals in attendance

Fun Lovin' Criminals
Fun Lovin' Criminals

Looking at the line-up for a festival of brass music, Fun Lovin’ Criminals might not be the first name you would expect to see.

But the New York band – generally associated with alternative rock and hip hop and the Quentin Tarantino-inspired 1997 hit Scooby Snacks – will be going for a brassy sound when it hits Durham in July.

The BRASS 2015 festival will run from July 16 to 19 at venues across the county but focused on the city.

Among the acts announced today are Fun Lovin’ Criminals who will take to the stage at the Gala Theatre on July 17 with a brass line-up assembled by the trio – Huey Morgan, Brian Leiser (aka Fast) and ‘Uncle’ Frank Benbini.

Ron Christlow (trombone), Ed Collins (trumpet) and Jon Melville (sax) are described by the headline act as “some heavyweight UK cats that know how to blow”.

These particular felines have worked with Take That and Def Leppard and in Durham we will see how their blowing enhances or complements the music of an outfit that began in 1993 as a New York club band before being spotted by EMI.

The Tredegar Town Band
The Tredegar Town Band

But this year’s festival will open at the Gala with a rousing recreation of one of the most memorable nights of swing music.

It was in 1939 at Carnegie Hall, New York, when Benny Goodman, who had performed a triumphant gig there the previous year, returned to challenge new kid on the block Glenn Miller.

Miller was boasting a brand new sound and was starting to shift millions of records.

The concert on July 16, masterminded by band leader Pete Long, will recreate a great night and is called simply Benny Goodman & Glenn Miller at Carnegie Hall 1939.

War was breaking out in Europe but New York was the crucible for some of the music that would brighten the moments between the fear and grief. The audience, carried on a wave more powerful than mere nostalgia, will be treated by Pete Long’s orchestra to numbers including In The Mood, One O’Clock Jump, Little Brown Jug, The Sheik of Araby and Pennsylvania 6-5000.

Some of the world’s best competition brass bands will join forces to close the festival on Sunday, July 19.

A concert called Pathways will feature sets by two of the finest Welsh bands, the world top ranked Cory Band and the Tredegar Town Band which featured in the hit film Pride.

As a grand finale they will be joined by the North East’s top competition band, Durham’s Reg Vardy, to form an 80-piece ensemble to perform the premiere of a specially commissioned new work by award-winning composer Lucy Pankhurst. It is called Pathways – hence the name of the concert.

Musicians will fill the stage and also be positioned around the theatre to give the audience a truly immersive experience. BRASS is an annual celebration of Durham’s musical heritage which is also designed to support and nurture the county’s tradition of brass music and to change perceptions of the genre with new commissions and collaborations.

The full line-up of this year’s festival is still to be announced but you can find updates at www.brassfestival.co.uk .

Tickets for these three Gala Theatre concerts can be bought via www.galadurham.co.uk or tel 03000 266600.

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