SOME of the most prominent percussion performers from the North-East and beyond descended on Hexham for an inaugural festival of drumming at the weekend.

The festival was hosted by the Mark Jon Bolderson Foundation, which was set up in memory of Hexham drummer Mark Bolderson. It marked the first time the foundation was able to hold an event on such a large scale.

Mark Bolderson, who studied at Birmingham Conservatoires, died suddenly in 2017 at the age of just 45.

The foundation was set up to offer financial support to young percussion students across the North-East.

Mark also served as a musician with the Royal Artillery following his studies at the conservatoires.

The foundation runs workshops, brings tuition and performance opportunities to young musicians, and holds an annual scholarship for talented performers.

In keeping with the foundation’s aims, a series of free workshops were held throughout the day, with the event opened by Martyn Kaine, from Whitley Bay.

Martyn, who studied under North-East drum educator Geoff Hutchinson, has worked with Amy Winehouse, Kyle Eastwood (son of the actor Clint) and the band Brotherly. He ran a drum kit workshop and was available throughout the day for one to one drum clinics with his former teacher, Geoff Hutchinson.

Also leading a workshop was another North-East native, Will Lang, who led a workshop and demonstration on the Irish folk drum, Bodhran.

There were also workshops ran by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoires percussion ensemble – the Millennial Percussion Ensemble – a corps of musicians from the British Army, and samba workshops.

The foundation was set up by Mark’s sister, Amanda, who was delighted with the way the festival turned out.

She said: “The work of the foundation is to support young percussionists.

“The festival’s purpose was to get our name out there so people can see the quality we’re able to bring to youngsters.

“The main point was to bring attention to the foundation and the fact it’s aimed at youngsters.

“We want them to be taught by and inspired by the best in the North-East.

“It really was a great day.”

In addition to the workshops held throughout the day, there was also a free evening gala concert, featuring performances from some of the top percussion performers in the country.

The performance began at an electrifying pace with Spark! – a team of LED drummers hailing from North Shields – who wowed the crowd with their impressive light display and fantastic music.

Leading tuned percussionist Owen Gunnell performed with the Millennial Percussion Ensemble.

Owen won the percussion final of the BBC Young Musician in 2000 and studied at the Royal College of Music, before performing with numerous reputable orchestras across the years.

Amanda said she struggled to pick a highlight from the festival. “It was a big success. The feedback has been fantastic.

“It’s difficult to say what the highlights were. The concert was a mix of the best in the North-East, but we also brought the best to the North-East as well.

“It was special to have Owen and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire up, with that being where Mark studied himself.

“Martyn Kaine is a local lad who has really made it big, so it was good for him to come back here.

“I think it went really well, it attracted a cross section of people.

"Our youngest audience member was just eight months old, and they were mesmerised by Spark!

“Mark would have been very proud to see this.

“It would be great to do it again in the future.”