Thousands of music fans, 17,000 schoolchildren, and 199 performers from seven countries, across two continents, have helped to make County Durham truly top brass. After a week of superb sounds, with stunning shows from both local, national and international instrumentalists, BRASS Festival reached a crescendo with 12 bands descending on Durham Market Place for a fabulous finale. Cllr Neil Foster, cabinet member at Durham County Council, which develops and delivers the annual celebration of musical culture and traditions, said: “Once again BRASS has been brilliant, bringing many thousands of people and  marvellous musical talent to the county, and hundreds of thousands of pounds to the local economy. “The sun was shining, there was a fantastic turnout, and everyone enjoyed the colourful and funky performances. “Well done to everyone involved – the bands, the staff, the partners and the volunteers – and thank you to everyone who attended. Roll on next year!” As part of the Festival’s 10th birthday celebrations the public were asked to vote for their favourite street band, with Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners’ mix of New Orleans and 90’s club classics – including hits by the Prodigy and Stone Roses – seeing them scoop the inaugural Golden Trumpet award. The Big BRASS Bash also came to a head with the weeklong “battle of the bands” between New York Brass Band and Oompah Brass, seeing Oompah come out on top. James Lancaster, from New York Brass Band, said: “We are very, very appreciative of what Durham County Council do here. The Festival brings together the very, very best musicians – and not only local – and that’s what makes it really special. “We spent a week together and you can see the guys all mixing together – it was a truly international gathering.” Highlights of BRASS Festival 2016 included concerts by
New Orleans band Hot 8 and the award winning Fairey Band, the premiere of the Durham Hymns at Durham Cathedral, the return of Streets of BRASS, and the finale of the Big BRASS Bash party in the park tour, which saw thousands of people visit the newly refurbished Wharton Park. Festival and events manager Kate James said: “We’ve had jam packed days of every kind of brass music and the audiences were absolutely fantastic. From the public events in Durham City to our week spent touring towns and attractions across the county it’s been terrific. “I’m particularly proud that we’ve reached so many children, with performances and workshops in schools, opening eyes and ears to what brass music can be. “I’d like to thank everyone who worked on and supported BRASS this year, including Arts Council England and Durham BID, as well the various Area Action Partnerships, councillors and town councils that supported the Big BRASS Bash tour. “I’d also like to thank the volunteers who get behind the event year after year to help us reach so many people. And of course, I’d like to thank all of our musicians, artists, performers and venues.” BRASS will return in 2017 with former Edinburgh Festival Fringe boss Paul Gudgin as artistic director.