A 500-strong audience enjoyed a Saturday night at the cinema, but in the ever beautiful surroundings of Durham’s World Heritage Site, with Music Durham’s ‘A Night at the Movies’. After the success of last year’s gala concert in Durham Cathedral, it seemed the obvious choice to rally the society Presidents, come up with a hectic mid-exam rehearsal schedule, and do it all over again! The event was a significant one, being the opening event of the inaugural Durham Festival of the Arts, a collaborative event between the groups of Experience Durham and Durham Students’ Union, which saw the city filled...

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Big Band Masterclass: Pete Churchill

On Thursday 27th November, Durham University Big Band welcomed Pete Churchill to the Music Department for an evening workshop (kindly supported by PwC). Pete is regarded as one of the finest jazz educators in the UK and is currently head of Jazz Composition at the Royal Academy of Music as well as being in high demand for large scale singing projects, especially with youth music organisations. It was, however, Pete’s expertise in the direction of Big Bands that DUBB were after. Pete has worked with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band on Kenny’s 80th birthday tour as well as on...

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Durham University Chamber Choir: Bach B Minor Mass

Durham University Chamber Choir were clearly not daunted by it in the slightest by the volume of this momentus work, and last night’s performance in the Great Hall of University College was notable for its accomplished solo and ensemble singing. The movements that particularly stood out for me in this performance were the broader, more expansive parts, where conductor Harry Castle gave the singers space to relish the richness of Bach’s choral writing – this came through best of all in the luscious suspensions of the Et expecto in the Credo where the choir piled up the tension before the wonderful release into the fast section that follows. The third section of the Kyrie was driven forwards by a thundering bass section, with long phrasing in all parts that filled the music with energy even at a relatively slow pace. The Gratias Agimus Tibi of the Gloria cooked with a slow, controlled simmering, which finally came to the boil when the same music returns at the very end of the Mass. The sopranos, clearly relishing the higher notes of modern pitch, added plenty of zing to the most brilliant parts of Bach’s exuberant lines and the basses glided through the notorious et iterum venturus est with impressive unanimity. It’s a mark of the quality of DUCC that eleven different singers took the solos, all of them excellently sung. I...

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DUCS, DUOS and DUCC: In The Light of Spring

On Saturday 7th March, Durham University Choral Society, Orchestral Society and Chamber Choir showcased the range and excellence of musical talent at Durham University with a concert entitled In The Light Of Spring. Nearly two hundred students were involved in this exciting collaboration between the three societies, with the performance of Lazarus Requiem by Durham alumnus and nationally recognised composer Patrick Hawes being the highlight of the evening. Supported by skilled soloists drawn from the alumni and student bodies, the concert also saw the societies perform Vivaldi’s Gloria. The Choral Society had been hard at work putting the finishing touches...

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Durham Opera Ensemble: The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro (1786) is arguably one of Mozart’s most universally acclaimed works – an opera buffa that fuses everything you want in a musical comedy: a suitable yet ridiculously conceived plot, an assortment of stereotypical characters, and a barrage of unfailing wit that will entertain the audience. I had high expectations for Durham Opera Ensemble’s (DOE) inaugural production in the Gala Theatre, and was not disappointed. Undoubtedly, this was one of the strongest and most talented principal casts I have seen in student theatre.  Harry Castle, Musical Director, displayed authoritative leadership in commanding a clearly talented orchestra that played extremely consistently for three hours. The orchestra and the singers and were largely together but a special mention deservedly goes to the oboes for some beautiful colour in their playing, and unquestionably to Will Ford for some superb harpsichord playing during the recitatives. Whilst an English libretto was used in favour of the traditional Italian, this helped create a more accessible and less elitist interpretation. When it came to the exposition of the principal cast, the male leads were suitably assertive. Figaro, played by Tom Rowarth, displayed a strong stage presence and delivered a consistent vibrato in managing all of Figaro’s baritone range with ease – particularly in his famous Act I Cavatina. Equally strong in character was the slick yet sleazy demeanour of Count Almaviva, played by...

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Upcoming Events

Sun 08

Foot Notes Presents: Christmas In The City

8 December 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Mon 09

Music Durham Winter Ball

9 December 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm
United Kingdom
Mon 09

Cuth’s Big Band Christmas Concert

9 December 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue 10

New Art Music Ensemble Michaelmas Concert

10 December 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Wed 11

Music Durham Lunchtime Concert

11 December 1:15 pm - 1:45 pm