THE OWEN BRANNIGAN STORY - A TRIBUTE BY GRAEME DANBY
Graeme Danby, North Eastern born opera star and St James' Park's own 'Top Chanter' tells the amazing story of Owen Brannigan, the Geordie carpenter who travelled south in 1929 to seek his fortune, gained a Scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music, was appointed Principal Bass at Sadler's Wells Opera and then became the North East's first operatic superstar.
The 5th October 2008 was a big day on Tyneside, over 50,000 stout hearted runners completed the Great North Run and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and also boosted the profile of the region. On the same day, in the Sage Gateshead, not much more than a triple jump away from the race's route over the Tyne Bridge, another group of North Easterners paid tribute to one of the region's favourite sons who also raised the profile of the North East, Owen Brannigan.
Had he lived Owen would have been 100 years old in 2008. Another 'local boy made good', English National Opera star Graeme Danby plus a 350 piece choir, the Riverside Brass Band and Brannigan family members, friends, and fans came together in the Sage Gateshead to sing and celebrate Owen's achievements.
Born on 10th March 1908 in Annitsford Northumberland, Owen began his working life as an apprentice joiner in the pit and his musical journey as a choirboy in the local church. In 1929 he headed south for work, he continued to sing in the evenings and in 1938 was appointed bass singer at Westminster Cathedral. The following year his rise to national fame accelerated when he was given a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music. By that time Owen was beginning to get a reputation and an afternoon radio broadcast was heard by Joan Cross of the Sadler's Wells Opera. She liked what she heard and in a matter of days she had installed him as principal bass at that auspicious company.
A glittering career in the world of serious music followed, he had parts written for him by Benjamin Britten and was recognised as one of the finest singers of his generation. Throughout his career he never lost touch with his Geordie roots, always included local songs in his repertoire and was well known by nonopera lovers for his performance of the famous 'Newcastle Brown Ale' commercial on local television. He died in 1973.
On this celebratory DVD, our current North Eastern born operatic superstar Graeme Danby tells the Owen Brannigan story, performs some of his well known songs and talks to people who knew, worked, sang and played with him. The Owen Brannigan Story - the first Geordie Opera Star.