Last night [11 June] saw the opening headline performance of this year’s Durham Brass Festival. A sell-out audience at The Gala Theatre enjoyed an exhilarating concert – in association with Musicon - from the Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) Brass Band, conducted by Elgar Howarth and accompanied by classical soloist Sue Bickley. The programme included arrangements of pieces by Beethoven and Delius as well as the contemporary composer Phil Wilby. “As a conductor I think it is essential both to entertain and stimulate an audience. Most importantly on a personal level, one must feel involved and proud with the content of whichever programme one conducts,” said Elgar Howarth. In its fifth and most challenging year, the Durham Brass Festival – a Durham Brass Initiative project - can celebrate a great achievement of bringing together a superb selection of musical talent; musicians who will bring charm, elegance and splendour to an already sizzling brass band music scene. People can enjoy the wonderful sounds of: The Reg Vardy Band (formerly the Ever Ready Band), Brighouse and Rastrick Band,White River Brass, Fishburn Band and the Durham University Brass Band and the Tavistock Chester le Street Riverside Brass. An international feel will be provided by some of the hottest acts around. People can enjoy the flare of American trumpeter Abram Wilson, the creative mix of Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog accompanied by Durham Brass Initiative’s very own Northern Brass and, as the festival finale Durham will be treated to one of the world’s most flamboyant divas - Omara Portuondo (the Buena Vista Social Club). The programme is a mixture of workshops and concerts, looking to educate and entertain. The festival will also deliver a few surprises with some wonderful musical collaborations, one in particular that will please music lovers will be the fusion of brass and jazz. This will be well represented by both The Northern Underground Jazz Orchestra [Tim Garland – saxophone / composer] and Gerry Richardson’s – Big Idea [Hammond organ]. The festival is managed by Durham City Arts with support from Arts Council England, North East and is a part of the 2005 Alive Festival of Music – a yearlong celebration of music across the North East. Alison Lister, Festivals Co-ordinator for Durham City Arts: “We are delighted to welcome so many amazingly talented musicians to Durham over the next few weeks. The festival will be the perfect opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the addictive qualities of brass band music.” Durham Brass Festival 2005 runs until Thursday 14 July, for further information about this year’s festival please call (0191) 301 8245, alternatively for a full festival line-up visit www.brassfestival.co.uk. ENDS. Media Contact: Garry Smith - Strictly Press (0191) 2892809 Notes to Editor: 1). Durham City Arts is the lead member of Durham Brass Initiative - the consortium comprises of: Durham City Arts, JazzAction, County Durham Cultural Services, Northern Regional Brass Band Trust, Durham University Music School, Derwentside District Council, District of Easington Council, Chester le Street District Council and Sedgefield Borough Council. The arts consortium works to support and promote the playing and appreciation of brass music in the North East of England and beyond. 2). Durham City Arts is the arts development agency for the City of Durham. They initiate arts and cultural projects that reflect local priorities and aim to promote an understanding of, and involvement in, the arts through partnerships, planned activities and grant based schemes.