Education: Darlington Fanfare Project

18th November 2017

Supported by Orchestras Live, Durham Music Service and Darlington Hippodrome.

From Steve Pickett, Education Director:

I had a really good day today with our partners in County Durham – Durham Music Service and Orchestras Live. Readers of this blog may remember that a couple of years ago we took the ‘Come and Play with the Hallé’ project to Darlington, performing in the Dolphin Centre in the town and working with Durham Music Service (Head of Service Mike Summers). This was a really successful project and our national partners, Orchestras Live were keen to get us back there.

Today the town proudly reopened the Grade II listed, Darlington Hippodrome Theatre (formerly called the Darlington Civic Theatre), which has been restored to its former magnificence. As part of the reopening ceremony they wanted to involve some local young musicians to perform a special fanfare and a project was devised to create one, involving Durham Music Service (brass tutor, Shaune Eland), a local composer and Hallé friend, Ian Robinson and a couple of brass players from the Hallé. Co Principal Trumpet Tom Osborne and valued extra, Kat Curlett were our players and they worked with the County Durham practitioners to help the young musicians to create the new piece. Today the new music had its premiere. What a great event! The students performed brilliantly on stage at the Hippodrome to around a hundred local dignitaries including the Chair of National Heritage, Sir Peter Luff, the Hippodrome’s Director Lynda Winstanley and some senior Darlington councillors and officials.

This was a really brilliant event in a fantastic venue which has not only been restored to its former glory but additional spaces for education, conferences and corporate entertainment have made this a really fabulous community space. They have even restored the famous water tower, which in the 1980s used to be a women’s toilet. In times gone by the tower used to provide flowing water for dramatic onstage effects often with animals, such was the imagination of Darlington’s Signor Pepi, the theatre’s first impresario. Pepi brought great acts to the theatre at the turn of the twentieth century, including the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

The town of Darlington should be immensely proud of what has been achieved.

I am delighted that the Hallé will perform there on Thursday 26 February 2018. Even better, the concert will start with another performance of the Darlington fanfare with the same students, this time, playing alongside the full Hallé brass section. I can’t wait!