Durham Brass 2020 Schoolin'
In 2020, Durham International Brass Festival went online to share its performance and educational programmes, overcoming the restrictions of lockdown to share world-renowned brass music with audiences. Our Musical Director Will Lenton, was commissioned to curate their programme of educational outreach; creating a series of virtual school assemblies. These were sent to all the junior schools in County Durham and contributed to the schools’ valued, online home-ed resources.
Durham Brass Festival is unique in the UK, because of the wealth of international talent it brings into schools each year and on to the streets of Durham. It was also important to us that we communicate the varied experiences of people from across Europe during the pandemic. Hearing from musicians in France, Spain and Italy felt especially important in 2020. Will designed a simple brief which in turn was interpreted by each of the bands involved, making a film in their home country.
This project was delivered on a shoe-string and in a very short amount of time, we responded as an international, musical community to the changing situation of the Covid19 crisis.
Artistas Del Gremio are from Zaragosa, Spain and have been entertaining audiences with their infectious, joyful shows since 2004. Notably, not only do they perform epic cinematic soundtracks, but they also re-enact iconic scenes from the movies while they’re at it! Complete with fight-sequences, car chases, romance and hilarious slap-stick physical comedy. Gremio’s arrangements are wonderfully textured, as well as cinematic soundtracks, audiences are treated to operatic arias, Iron Maiden medley’s and hilarious cartoon themes. Their musicianship is orchestral, except this orchestra wears tutus, moves like olympic synchronised swimmers and will probably sit on your lap and nick your hat given half a chance. We love Gremio!
Artistas Del Gremio’s virtual assembly communicated the basics of harmony in both Spanish and English. The lyrics to the song they teach us can be found Lyrics.
Bandakabra are from Turin, Italy. 2020 would have been their first visit to Durham Brass. Bandakabra are a little big band; a street and stage comedy orchestra with a powerful brass section, tight arrangements, great songs and plenty of humour. They make us laugh, but first they make us dance – how can you not when they swing so hard! We look forward to meeting them in person in the not too distant future.
Bandakabra helped our young audiences get to grips with the difference between “straight time” and “swing time”.
Back Chat Brass are the white rose to our red! We might hale from opposite sides of the Pennines, but we love ‘em and we can’t wait for another derby in 2021. BCB craft a set list from the best of tunes from every era; their roots are firmly in pop, funk and hip-hop, but they cherry-pick and arrange absolute classics and get audiences going with their energy. There’s certainly a warm sentimental vein pumping through all their music, timelessly connecting them to folk of all ages.
Back Chat Brass’s assembly helped us understand the musical term: “dynamics”
Mouv’N’Brass from Mayenne, France are a 5-piece band, performing high-energy original music and dance. 2020 would also have been their first visit to Durham Brass Festival, and we really enjoyed working together on this digital project. Mouv’N’Brass’ music is earthy and grounded, their videos often feature them dancing barefoot whilst performing. Their uplifting melodies, joyful movement and rhythm drive audiences to let rip and dance.
Mouv’N’Brass introduced us to “rhythm” and got all the headteachers dancing in their assembly.
Mr Wilson’s Second Liners are not only professional musicians but also include several qualified secondary and SEND teachers in our core team. Their experience and confidence as educators has enabled us to deliver bespoke training packages and educational assemblies in a variety of settings including television broadcasts and with community bands, primary, secondary and SEND schools. It’s a very rewarding part of our work.
Mr Wilson’s introduced students to the different instrument families in the orchestra, (and taught everyone a classic rap too.)
Each year at the end of Durham Brass Festival all the bands gather in the city’s market place to celebrate and perform together. This finale is always a highlight for loyal audiences – a raucous and anarchic rendition of a classic tune performed by 10 or more brass bands is quite a sound!
In June, during lockdown, we worked with Back Chat Brass and Artistas Del Gremio to record “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads. The musicians recorded their parts at home and we mixed the track together, to become the soundtrack to the Durham Brass Finale film for their online 2020 festival.