Review – Durham Dynamics Showcase

Durham Dynamics gave their first concert last Thursday in the Music Department’s Concert Room on Palace Green. Twenty five a cappella singers took the stage for the opening item, Broadway Here I Come from ‘Smash’, arranged by musical director Issie Osborne. The B flat major harmonies were well-assigned, sensitive to the size of each vocal section. However, the singers could have projected more to articulate a clearer balance between the voice parts. Nonetheless, issues with balance and projection naturally resolved as the concert progressed. The singers cleanly delivered Broadway Here I Come with the classic tap-clap-click accompaniment. The second item was Issie’s arrangement of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know. This featured a bass solo by James Everitt, whose portrayal of a desperate, yearning lover was convincing. The next item was a showcase of The Man Who Can’t Be Named by The Script and James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go. Matty Francois, alto, transitioned with ease between both songs, with solid chordal strumming by Tom Katon, which remained sensitive to Matty’s dynamic contours. The next item was a peppy showcase of Emeli Sandé’s Next To Me and Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life by soprano, Maddie Graham and alto, Sophie Starke. Both singers displayed great competence, which was partly evident through their ability to enjoy themselves, interact with each other and engage with the audience. The pair’s annunciation was commendable, notably...

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Review – Horn Soc and Flute Choir

On Tuesday evening two of Music Durham’s youngest ensembles took to the stage in the cosy setting of Hatfield Chapel. Flute Choir and Horn society treated the audience to a delightful evening of music all the way from Bach, to show tunes and popular song. Both groups were formed only this year – Flute Choir by Cara Wharton and Horn Soc by Holly Greenwood-Rogers – but are already well on their way to becoming some od Durham’s most active musicians! The evening was split into four quarters, the first led by Flute Choir. Under the expert direction of Cara Wharton, the group performed Eye of the Tiger arranged by Michael Story. This gave an energetic start to the evening and illustrated the choir’s fabulous blend, but perhaps could at times have benefitted from not tuning quite so far in advance of the concert. This was followed by Tiyokoretodamore which really showed off their dynamic range and sumptuous lower parts. The higher parts were occasionally overpowering but for a group without a conductor, the timing and tempos were excellent, and the choir cleverly navigated their way through less well known non-western harmony. The first quarter closed with Disney Medley No. 2 which was a real toe-tapper that the audience visibly enjoyed! There were some slight tuning issues but here the choir clearly relaxed and enjoyed their playing. Lots of complicated...

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Review – St John Passion (Dunelm Consort & Players)

Following on from their previous successes this academic year, this evening – the Dunelm Consort’s second Epiphany term performance – took place in the wholly appropriate and very atmospheric setting of Durham Castle’s Great Hall. Featuring guest soloists Ruairi Bowen, Gareth Thomas and Florian Störtz, alongside soloists from within the consort. The passion opened with a clear and articulated choral entry at the beginning of the first chorus. The throbbing orchestral dynamics accentuate the suspensions and support the sense of unfolding in this opening chorus. Particularly moving are the chorus entries on the word ‘herr’ with a very bright vocal timbre piercing through the orchestra. Although there is some slowing with the chorus falling slightly behind on occasion, the overall balance and sense of line here is sublime in all parts. Guest soloist Ruairi Bowen performs the role of evangelist, with an opening recitative featuring very impressive diction, accuracy, and agility. The extremes of register in these recitative sections are very easily navigated. After this, there is an energetic and fast-paced section of the scene of Jesus’ betrayal. A climactic point is the chorus in its interjection Jesus von Nazareth, which is energetic in the vocal parts, with a highly accurate contrapuntal texture in the orchestra that accentuates the chaos and anger of many voices in the crowd. Bass soloist Gareth Thomas, who performs the role of Chrisus, demonstrates...

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Review – Choral Society and DUPO Cathedral Concert

This weekend was a truly monumental weekend for Music Durham as, following the mesmerising Swing, Strings, and Sir Tom concert in the Gala theatre on Friday evening, on Saturday the Durham University Choral Society and Palatinate Orchestra took to the stage in the breath-taking Durham Cathedral for Spirit of Peace. This concert was to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of Durham University Choral Society, one of the oldest and largest music societies in Durham. The choir and the orchestra have recently joined together under the expert baton of Adam Laughton who is full time conductor of the orchestra, whilst the full time director of the choir is on maternity leave. Both groups have truly enjoyed this collaboration and the opportunities it has opened up to new and exciting repertoire – and this clearly shone through the entire performance!  The concert opened with Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, first performed 130 years ago and perhaps made most famous at the Royal Wedding in 2011. The proud opening immediately illustrates Parry at his finest, and the orchestra execute this with style and finesse. The winds were confident, the strings soared above into the heights of the space, and the audience could see the clear passion that Laughton has for the music and these ensembles. The full range of the orchestras dynamics and timbres were explored within the first few...

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Review – Swing, Strings and Sir Tom

On Friday 10th March crowds descended on the Gala Theatre, Durham, for one of the biggest musical events of a generation: Swing, Strings, and Sir Tom. Fresh from their record number of successful performances in Michaelmas Term, Durham University Orchestral Society joined the award winning Durham University Big Band, and internationally acclaimed Sir Thomas Allen for an evening of jazz arrangements.  Months of organisation, rehearsals, diary coordinating, and planning had gone into the evening and the result did not disappoint. The concert set up was fantastic, with strings to the left of the big band allowing for each part of the ensemble to be heard clearly, yet blend beautifully. The positioning of the harp meant the audience could both see and hear the exciting glissandos, generating an air of magic to the evening. Throughout the entire evening the rhythm section came into their own, adding a new level of life to the sound perfectly matched by Sir Tom’s dynamic hosting and magnetic charisma! The evening could not have been so successful without the watchful eyes (and ears) of DUOS conductor John Reddel and Big Band Musical Director Matthew Jacobs; their work (along with that of the society executive committees) allowed for a smooth running concert complete with varied repertoire and stunning soloists.  The concert opened with Stella by Starlight Suite, a gentle opening to a sophisticated evening of music...

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Upcoming Events

May 01

IAS 2: John Snijders and Morton Feldman

1 May 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
May 02

Brodsky Quartet

2 May 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
May 06

Durham Gamelan

6 May 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Jun 02

Music Durham – Cathedral

2 June 7:00 pm
United Kingdom
Jun 03

Arts on the Green

3 June 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm