In 2017 Cardiff’s biggest, boldest, brassiest band celebrated 25 years of making music in South Wales and beyond, and launched their collaborative, multimedia performance project, Wonderbrass25!
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wonderbrass launched the project at The Gate last October, to a packed venue and a fantastic response. Since then, they’ve been making films and music videos, writing, performing and recording new compositions, developing a digital archive, running collaborative musical storytelling workshops with musicians Claude Deppa, Nick Briggs, and Dr Rob Smith, and sharing the eclectic mix of Wonderbrass experiences accumulated over the past quarter century.
The New Orleans-style big band, founded by Dr Rob Smith in 1992, takes a unique approach to music and performance – over the years, Wonderbrass has welcomed hundreds of musicians, playing myriad instruments from harps to sousaphones. As an inclusive rehearsal environment, Wonderbrass has provided an environment in which amateur musicians can develop their own musicianship and contribute to the wider cultural society in South Wales. Wonderbrass is a unique organisation providing creative outlets to members of the community, developing an inclusive social and creative space for participants to grow and develop musically and socially.
Many former members have returned to get involved with the current band to work on the project and will be joining the band on stage for a spectacular, roof-raising, ear-splitting, rip-roaring celebratory performance of brand new material on October 20th, once again at the Gate music venue in Roath. The event will be free, but ticketed via the Gate’s website. Keep an eye on Twitter @Wonderbrass, via #WB25 or through the Wonderbrass Facebook page and website for ticket release as these went fast last year!
Wonderbrass began as part of the National Garden Festival fund as a cultural response to the deprivation in the post-industrial South Wales Valleys. Building on the local heritage of carnival, brass band and community music making, Wonderbrass aimed to allow musicians within the community to experience professional-standard performances, both as players and as audience members.
The band’s unique sound and signature performance style has become iconic of the South Wales performance scene; the band participated annually in the SWICA Carnival celebrations (until the company closed in 2016), are a popular and regular feature of the Cardiff Half Marathon entertainment, the Cardiff St David’s Day parades and the Barry Isle of Fire celebration, as well as performing at National and Urdd Eisteddfods.
On top of the ‘Wonderbrass25’ project, 2018 has been one of the busiest years Wonderbrass has known, including bi-monthly Brass takeover nights at Gwdihw, gigs at birthdays and weddings from Cardiff to Pembrokeshire, festivals and carnivals from Butetown to Abergavenny, and a 3am call to welcome the Volvo Ocean Race competitors to shore. They’ve played live on Heart radio and at the RHS flower show, and many other gigs in and around Cardiff. If you haven’t caught them yet, or want to see them again, keep an eye on their website, Facebook and Twitter for upcoming shows – you won’t be disappointed!
View the official line up and book your FREE ticket here.