Even as the end of Epiphany Term comes into sight – and exam panic begins to emerge in earnest – there is still some amazing music in the city! We can see the fabulous Durham Festival of the Arts looming on the horizon post-exams. But in the meantime, the upcoming concerts in Durham’s musical calendar are certainly not to be missed, and offer inspiration for anyone who needs a break from the long slog of revision.

Alongside top showcases from DUPO, Classical Ensemble and Hill Orchestra, Durham’s brand new Flute Choir will be out in style for the lunchtime concert series on Wednesday 8th March. Amongst all this, a highlight will definitely be an extravaganza from Durham University Orchestral Society (DUOS). The orchestra will be performing challenging and impressive works from Ravel, Rachmaninov and Saint-Saëns at Elvet Methodist Church on Saturday 4th March.

DUOS is known for being one of the city’s premiere music ensembles, and attracts many of the University’s most accomplished players. This month, watch the combined forces of DUOS Symphony and DUOS Chamber inspire you with an evening of French and Russian music from the foremost late-romantic composers.

We attended their rehearsal yesterday to get a glimpse of what’s in store for next Saturday, and spoke to Hayley Lam, DUOS’s leader and violin soloist for Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, featuring violin solo work ranging from immense tenderness and lyricism to the darkest intensity. One could certainly not fail to be enchanted by the virtuosity of this piece, which was sounding sublime even in the relatively modest rehearsal hall.

However, despite being soloist in the above work, Hayley let slip that she was ‘…Probably more excited about getting to play Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances’, describing the dances as ‘Luscious’ and ’exhilarating’. As Rachmaninov’s last composition, the symphonic dances represent a massive challenge – they are widely described as being a ‘tour-de-force’ of his entire output of compositional styles, and even feature such innovative elements as an alto saxophone solo in the opening dance.

In 2015, DUOS celebrated its 50th anniversary, and its website describes an ensemble with a proud history of covering ‘…a large array of demanding orchestral repertoire’. The repertoire for this concert is certainly no exception, and if the challenging repertoire is pulled off as well as it was at this Thursday’s rehearsal, then audiences will certainly have nothing to fear – and should arrive prepared to be amazed.

Don’t forget to get your tickets at the link below: https://www.musicdurham.org/event/orchestral-society/

DUOS will also be performing as part of ‘Swing, Strings & Sir Tom‘ at the Gala Theatre on 10th of March, Featuring the University’s own Chancellor, internationally-acclaimed baritone Sir Thomas Allen, who will ‘Ditch his operatic persona and delve into the world of Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra’. The concert will feature string players from DUOS alongside Durham University Big Band. Find out more and get tickets under ‘events’.