Durham BRASS 2020: an online music festival


BRASS, the international music festival held annually in Durham, has taken its celebrations to the internet as it moves online for 2020. The original festival, scheduled to take place from 10th to 19th July this year, will instead feature online performances from musicians around the world.  BRASS 2020 is now taking place from 13th to 18th July.

Cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s festival will comprise of online socially distanced performances, past recordings, and interactive workshops, many led by a range of groups planning to perform in Durham this July. Their website divides activities up into tutorials, workshops, performances, radio shows, and archives, of which all can be accessed at certain times throughout the week. Brass bands involved in lockdown recordings include Spain’s Artistas Del Gremio, France’s Mouv ‘n’ Brass, and Britain’s Backchat Brass.

“This year’s festival will comprise of online socially distanced performances, past recordings, and interactive workshops.”

A cluster of past performances will be released throughout the week, many of which relate to significant events in the festival’s history. These recordings will include the 2012 festival performance of ‘Witness’ by renowned electronic composer Scanner, the 2014 piece ‘Streamsong’, co-commissioned by the Science Museum Group and Durham County Council, as well as the 2016 world-premiere performance of ‘Durham Hymns’ in Durham Cathedral, featuring a 100-voice choir and 60-piece brass band.

Brass band Beat’n’Blow play in Durham’s Market Square, image by Craig A Rodway via Flickr

A series of short brass tutorial videos will also be streamed throughout the week. These videos will be hosted by Durham Music Service and aimed to help beginner or younger players pick up tips surrounding their instrument. Each day a new video will be released surrounding the challenges of a different instrument, and on Friday 17th they will be brought together to form a brass ensemble. Students from Durham Music Service will also perform on Wednesday 15th June, showcasing the work they have put into online lessons during lockdown, and displaying the efforts of pupils from a broad age range and standard throughout the afternoon. This event will be livestreamed via YouTube.

“You will regret missing out on streaming such an event”.

It is safe to say that BRASS 2020, akin to any other year, has something for everyone to get involved with. Without Durham city centre bustling with brass players, students may forget that such a renowned festival is taking place, however with a broad array of online coverage, you will regret missing out on streaming such an event.

More detail can be found on both the BRASS website and Facebook pages.

Featured image: Artistas del Gremio performing in Durham, by Glyn Nelson via Flickr.

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