The DUOS Chamber Orchestra makes its debut of this academic year on Saturday, with the Chamber Orchestra performing in Durham Castle’s impressive great hall.
With a collection of famous works from the Romantic period, the program begins in the British Isles with Delius’ Two pieces for Small Orchestra. We then explore continental Europe, with Variations on a Theme by Haydn by Johannes Brahms, before returning again with Mendelssohn’s famous ‘Scottish’ Symphony (no. 3). The composer was said to have gained inspiration for this piece while exploring the ruins of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on a visit to Scotland.
This programme exhibits the massively varying compositional styles of the period, from Delius’ illustrative Symphonic poems to Brahms’ mastery of thematic development and different compositional devices.
We spoke to John Reddel, the director of DUOS Chamber, about the overarching theme of this concert programme. While he originally planned to focus on a ‘British’ theme, he said ‘It has since morphed into something else’. However, there is still a clear focus on the British Isles in most of the repertoire. Certainly, John pointed to the ‘modal and pentatonic harmonies’ of Delius’ pieces, and this combines with Mendelssohn’s use of ‘…some Scottish folk song influences… …particularly in the second movement’. John’s favourite item of the evening is Delius’ ‘Two pieces for small orchestra’, and he praised the composer’s ‘illustrious harmonies and sonorous melodies’, and the way he ‘paints two beautiful images certainly warrants the opinion that he is a tone poet of nature.’
Asked about performing in Durham Castle’s impressive Great Hall, John told us that it is one of his favourite spaces in the city, with ‘elaborate architecture and decor that adds a certain amount of grandeur to the occasion.’ He also praised it as an acoustic that ‘particularly favours an orchestra’.
Finally, we asked how the orchestra have settled in this academic year, and what there is to look forward to next term. He described an ‘incredible crop of talent’ arriving this year, and he said that the new freshers have brought ‘…a certain vigour to the society which I hope continues on for the rest of the year.’ He also pointed to a collaborative project with Durham University Big Band taking place next term, and spoke of the ‘honour of sharing the Gala Theatre stage with our chancellor (and world-renowned opera baritone) Sir Thomas Allen, who will be singing golden-age jazz numbers for one night only’ in March 2017.
There is still time to buy tickets for the performance on the 26th – and they’re currently on offer!