“Brasstonbury” goes from strength to strength.
Ironbridge Gorge Brass Band Festival take place on the 9th and 10th of July. Now in its 15th year, the Brass Band Festival has grown steadily and this year it features a record 27 bands appearing over a packed two days.
While the big festivals such as Glastonbury and Download are all about big numbers, the Brass Band Festival is obsessed with zeros: the registered charity organising the event is run entirely by volunteers who donate their time free of charge, all the bands pay their own expenses and perform for nothing - and that means that entry for the event is also absolutely free.
It might be run on a shoestring budget, but don't let that mislead you into thinking that the Festival doesn't think big. Invaluable support from the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and local businesses like Southwater Events and Stagecraft means that the venue at The Museum of Iron (one of the Trust's ten award-winning sites in the historic gorge) and staging for the event are truly impressive. The reputation of the Festival has spread far and wide – over three thousand people from all over the country attended the event last year and this year's festival features a band from Germany (the fifth country to be represented), while the Festivals’ Young Composer Competition has received an entry from someone in New Zealand.
Youth is an important part of the Festival. While there isn’t a mosh pit or any crowd surfing (yet!) don't assume that the Festival only appeals to someone of a certain age revelling in a tradition the belongs to the past. There are still over 600 bands thriving in the UK with around 17,000 registered players and over 8000 schoolchildren are taking brass instrument lessons every year. The Festival holds oversubscribed youth workshops each year (funding is the only limitation), it hosts a Young Composer Competition for those under 19 and about a quarter of the 500 to 600 musicians appearing at this years’ event will be under 25.
Don't assume that you can predict the type of music that you're likely to hear, either. You'll recognise TV and film themes, tunes by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Beatles amongst many others- even Led Zeppelin has made a fleeting appearance - and if you like to sing along and waive your Union Flags to Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia, then the “Brass Night of the Proms” in aid of Severn Hospice is a sure fire hit.
So if you want a few surprises, pack a picnic, make your way to Ironbridge on the 9th and 10th of July and the biggest surprise will be the fact that you can grab 16 hours of fabulous live entertainment without having to put your hands in your pockets.
Date Posted: 20th May 2016