Brassed Off comes home to Yorkshire with Grimethorpe Colliery Band and the Orchestra of Opera North
4th July 2018
Grimethorpe Colliery Band and the Orchestra of Opera North are preparing to make history with the Band’s first ever live soundtrack performance of Brassed Off in Yorkshire, part of the Opera North in the City festival on Millennium Square, Leeds on Sunday 29 July.
The much-loved 1996 film, starring Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald, Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, follows the struggles of a colliery band after the closure of their pit. Its bittersweet story is loosely based on Grimethorpe’s own: in 1992, just five days before the Band was due to compete in the national championships at the Royal Albert Hall, Grimethorpe Colliery was earmarked for closure. They battled on to triumph at the contest, and returned to the Royal Albert Hall last year to celebrate their centenary with the first performance of Brassed Off Live.
In another happy twist to the tale, Grimethorpe’s second ever live performance of the soundtrack – the first in their home county of Yorkshire – follows their recent qualification for this year’s National Brass Band Championship, which will take them back to the Royal Albert Hall to represent Yorkshire in October.
The real-life stars of Brassed Off, Grimethorpe Colliery Band recorded the original soundtrack, which featured new compositions by Trevor Jones alongside brass band staples like the Florentiner March and arrangements of classical gems. The Orchestra of Opera North will begin the afternoon in Millennium Square with two of those unforgettable tunes in fully orchestrated form: Rossini’s William Tell Overture and of course, Rodrigo’s “Concierto d’Orange Juice”, featuring the brilliant guitarist Craig Ogden – who has recorded all three solo Rodrigo guitar concertos with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
For the first time ever in Yorkshire and by special arrangement with the Royal Albert Hall, Grimethorpe Colliery Band will then take the stage to accompany the film, joined by members of the Orchestra.
Writer-director Mark Herman, who was born in Bridlington and studied in Hull and Leeds, will be taking his seat in Millennium Square for the event. He comments:
“It was both an education and a privilege to work with Grimethorpe Band on Brassed Off, and they have provided me with many fond memories. There was a real spirit among the cast and crew on the film, and the band’s dedication to the cause was an example of that, and will always be appreciated by me.
“I suspect that the audience in Leeds won’t be new to the film, nor will they be new to the music. What will be new to them, and what will surprise them, is the power of the mix of the two. It’s a film about musicians, and the musicians are there in front of you.
“For Brassed Off Live, we’ve taken all the music off the film, and the band have just the one chance, there and then, to match it. It’s their ability to do this, without even a flicker of an eyebrow, that makes them, in my unbiased view, the best band in the world”.
Early on in an award-winning stage and screen career, actor Stephen Tompkinson played the troubled son of the band’s conductor (Pete Postlethwaite) in the film. He comments:
“The unique thing about brass band music is the sound, and being close to the sound: it travels right through you, it’s a uniquely British sound. There’s history there, there’s pride there, and the musicians themselves are as professional as any orchestra in the world: they made Brassed Off what it is.
“It’s a story that still matters to a great deal of people, and one that lasts in the memory more strongly than any other piece of work that I’ve done. The Royal Albert Hall screening was a tremendously emotional night, which we dedicated to Pete Postlethwaite and the Grimethorpe Band, and we’re absolutely thrilled that it’s coming back to its home county of Yorkshire with this performance in Millennium Square.”
Grimethorpe Colliery Band Director Peter Haigh comments:
“At first I was not keen on the idea of a film being made about the pit closures. As one of the last to leave the colliery, I’d watched the buildings being demolished, and the loss of so many livelihoods. But I now hold my hands up and admit that Brassed Off was a marvellous idea.
“It has become a big part of the Band’s identity, and it’ll be fantastic to be able to bring the spectacle of such an inspiring story back to its home in the north of England”.
Brassed Off Live will close the Opera North in the City festival, which is organised in partnership with Leeds City Council as part of the annual Millennium Square Summer Series. The Orchestra of Opera North will demonstrate its incredible versatility over the course of the long weekend of music in the heart of Leeds, which begins with expanded adaptations of club anthems featuring original guest artists in The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics on Friday 27 July.
Saturday 28 July finds the Orchestra on more familiar ground with A Classic Summer’s Evening, a sparkling programme of symphonic showpieces and favourite operatic arias featuring acclaimed Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas, an Opera North favourite who is no stranger to the city centre, having stunned shoppers in Trinity Leeds with a surprise rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma last summer.
To enhance the festival atmosphere, Leeds City Council will be laying on an expanded selection of food and drink for all three dates. Tickets (all seated) for A Classic Summer’s Evening and Brassed Off Live are priced from £21 to £27, or half price for ages 16 and under. Tickets (all standing) for The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics are priced at £32.50.