The 40th Brass in Concert Festival took place on 19th/20th November 2016 at Sage Gateshead. The entertainment contest’s origins in a works canteen, doubling up as the Beehive Ballroom, in Darlington was deemed to be a “one-off” occasion in 1977 to mark HM The Queen’s Silver Jubilee and the opening of a new factory in the town. Thirty-nine years later, in response to the bands and audience asking for “more”, the contest has grown to become a Festival, now widely regarded as a North East Success Story and the leading event of its kind in the world.
To celebrate an exhibition covering the 4 decades was on display for two weeks on Sage Concourse.
The Brass in Concert Championship provides over 7 hours of live music with up to 12 of the very best bands in the world competing for the prestigious title. As many as 30 new compositions and arrangements will receive their first performance, the audience enjoying fine solos and visually pleasing presentations and programmes designed to appeal to listeners of all persuasions and played with enthusiasm and considerable skill
The Festival has become an international event with the audience drawn from all parts of the United Kingdom, from Europe, and as far a field as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. This year the contest will feature three overseas bands, Dublin Silver, Ohio, USA, Stavanger Brass, Norway and Brass Band Schoonhoven, The Netherlands. In addition to the contest, each band will present a showcase on the first day of the festival. A Gala Concert concluded the first day’s activities featuring Black Dyke Band under the baton of Professor Nicholas Childs with Guest Soloist James Morrison, “The Wizard of Oz”, the multi instrumentalist and Jazz great. Proceedings for the Gala Concert and Contest introduced by BBC Radio 2’s Frank Renton.
Youth and Education plays a significant part on the opening day with Taster Sessions, supported by Yamaha Music Europe GMBH (UK), a Workshop and Concerts by Young People. The taster sessions offers opportunities for young people to have a “first blow” on a brass band instrument ranging from a soprano cornet to a Bb Bass, the Workshops will be led by Philip Harper, Music Director, Cory Band and their principal players. The Workshop concluded with a concert on the Concourse, including a short performance by the elementary players. A further presentation was given by Youth Brass 2000, the current Action Medical Research Youth Entertainment Champions of Great Britain, who concluded their visit to Sage Gateshead the following day with a Celebration concert..
The Exhibition was supplemented with DVD recording playback to highlight the history of the event which has been acknowledged as a “North East Success Story”. We have detailed records going back to 1977 including:-
* Full Results of the Brass in Concert Championship, including Trophy Winners-1977-2016.
* The Names of all the Competing Bands 1977-2016.
* The Names of Adjudicators 1977-2016.
* Copies of Souvenir Programmes 1977-2016
* Details of Music played by the Participating Bands 1977-2016.
* Images and profiles of leading personalities associated with the Festival.
The principal features of the display will encompassed Display boards. This was dedicated to each of the four decades of Brass in Concert, a further two boards were dedicated to our Youth and Education programme and Aims and Aspirations for the future. In addition a glass cabinet housing the trophies displayed the “pots” that are played for each year.
A colourful display of music stand banners, band jackets and ties complemented the layout. There was an emphasis on linking recent history and the changes through the decades to music including new compositions and arrangements as well as the heritage of famous bands-Reg Vardy (Craghead Colliery, Ever Ready), Grimethorpe Colliery, Cory, Black Dyke, Brighouse and etc.
In 2014 we were pleased to mount a World War 1 display about brass banding and the many effects of war on the local population, this presentation was of great interest to schoolchildren as well as adults.
The Brass in Concert Management Team are indebted to David Bennett for his work in planning the Exhibition content and to the bands who loaned banners , uniforms and other mementoes.