On Monday 4 June, members of the Durham music and theatre community came together to celebrate a year of phenomenal music-making in the third annual Palatinate Music and Theatre Awards. The 17/18 academic year has been a particularly vibrant and eventful year for Music and Theatre, who have continued to fill various Durham venues and theatres awash with an array of eclectic, jaw-dropping performances. The Music Durham ensembles have collectively performed 89 concerts (and counting), formed brand new societies, and even had royal visit from HRH the Prince of Wales in February at the Parry Centenary Concert. DST have produced over 100 productions over the course of the year, with an amazing 60 student-written works gracing the stage. These joint awards aim to commend individuals who have gone above and beyond on behalf their respective societies to make these great things happen. The evening was held at the Marriott Hotel, with entertainment from Full Score, Rosie Weston and Chronotic Brass.

The first award of the evening was for an individual’s Outstanding Contribution. Full palatinate was awarded to Andy Baldacchino as Music Durham Treasurer as well as for his work as Concert Band President. Hayley Lam, who has racked up a whopping 62 performances over her three years at Durham and for her role as Music Durham Secretary 17/18 and DUOS Tour Manager 16/17. For theatre, the award was given to DST Festivals’ Secretary Sophie Wright and also to Jasmine Price as writer and director of MOSCOS and AQUA SPECTACULA, and for her role as President of Buttered Toast.

Music Durham and DST are committed to student involvement in the local community, demonstrated by a number of committed individuals and societies nominated for the Outreach Award, including Brass Band, Concert Band and their conductor Chloe Langham, and Music Durham VP Hannah Cox. Half palatinate was awarded to Issie Osborne for her work leading singing lessons for the local youth group Enter CIC. Ellie Knott was also recognised for the most hours clocked the GSCE volunteering programme and organising the Divinity Quintet’s primary school lessons and SCA Tea Party outreach performances.

There was no shortage of nominations for the Best Individual Onstage category this year. For Theatre, Steph Sarratt was recognised for her role in a one-woman show Grounded,for which she received a judge’s commendation at NSDF, and Lily Edwards for her role in the Durham Revue, Rent, 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche and one-woman show The House of Influenza. For Music, this accolade went to award-winning Northern Lights soloist Miranda Phillipsand to Ellie Holland for her near-professional and flawless rendition of Reinecker’s Flute Concerto in the DUOS Symphony michaelmas concert.

Best Individual Offstage is habitually awarded to someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes to make bring these concerts and performances into fruition. This year half palatinate went to Nellie Chadwick-Smith for her work with the Music Durham Concert Series and full palatinate to DUOS President Alex Barker, who playing a key role in the Parry Centenary concert. Helena Trebichavska and Alok Kumar were also awarded Best Offstage for Theatre for their commitment and enthusiasm over the course of the year.

Taking up the baton is no mean feat and the Musical Director Award recognises the talents of some of the best student conductors in the country. This year Josh Ridley has conducted DOE productions as well as leading Chamber Choir and DUOS Chamber, earning himself full Palatinate. Emily Winters also took half palatinate for her own composition and direction of Inferno. 

The award for Society of the Year is presented to the society that have shone out for their professional-level concerts.For their commitment to outreach as well as their outstanding performances this year, the Divinity Quintet secured half palatinate. Full Score, Music Durham’s brand new barbershop quartet have taken the music scene by storm, with several sold out concerts and won full palatinate. With regards to our theatrical societies, The Durham Revue took half palatinate for their hilarious productions this year and sketch comedy workshops. 

Hild Bede Theatre were recognised for theirmany successful in-house productions including Blood Brothers, The Boomerang Effectand Cabaret, one of their first ventures into The Assembly Rooms Theatre with their hugely successful production of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quichewas chosen to rerun as the DST Gala show as part of the 2018 Durham Festival of the Arts.

Out of the 89 concerts so-far this year, this competition for Best Concert was fierce. Half palatinate was deservingly awarded to Concert Band on Broadway which completely sold out Durham Castle with songs from the shows. Full palatinate went to DUOS Chamber Orchestra’s outstanding michaelmas term concert in collaboration with Castle Chapel Choir, performing Vaughan Williams iconic ‘Five Mystical Songs’ and the child-hood favourite, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, excellently narrated by Charlie Chriswell and Jeremy Cowen. Fierce too was the battle for Best Production, which went to the beautifully imaginative and moving piece which used clowning and puppetry, MOSCOS. MOSCOS was also selected for performance at NSDF. Lesbians Eating a Quiche, all-female production which celebrates the LGBT+ community won full palatinate and will return to the Gala for a one-night-only reprise this week.

Unlike the previous awards, the Lifetime Achievement accolade is presented to someone nominated by their peers for their dedication through their entire Durham career. Two full palatinate awards were given to Jessica Bryden, for her Music Durham presidency, multiple performances as principal cellist in DUOS including a concert, as well as singing within the Chamber Choir and chapel choirs and other productions. Josh Ridley was also commended for his direction the Chamber Choir and DUOS Chamber Orchestra this year, as well as many DOE productions. Josh has also sung with the Chamber Choir, conducted the University College Chapel Choir, and has held the position of Organ Scholar in St John’s College all three years of his degree. Lifetime achievement in theatre went to Sophie Wright an “unsung hero” according to her nominator, for her roles The Crucible and Yes, Prime Minister. She also directed The Bloody Chamber, The Normal Heart, and Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons and Picnic at Hanging Rock and assistant directed The Bacchae. Jasmine Prince was also recognised as a stunningly capable performer, taking lead roles in Mary Stuart, Angels in America, Eight and Get Your Shit Together. She has also directed the raucous comedy Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) and a brilliant and slick production of Constellations and co-founded Buttered Toast.

Finally, a new award for 2018 is the Special Achievementfor students who have worked closely with both Music and Theatre. This was won by Issie Osborne: founder and Musical Director of Durham Dynamics; soloist and violinist for DUPO; and Music Durham Social Secretary 16/17. Issie has also been Musical Director and Assistant Musical Director for countless productions and has led DULOG as President this year. Special Achievement also went to Sophie Rudge. Sophie has spent years in Durham singing for various chapel choirs and has this year managed Chamber Choir. She was joint Music Durham Social Secretary 16/17 with Issie. Sophie has also been a prolific DST producer, responsible for The Canterbury Tales, The Magic Flute,A Midsummer Night’s Dreamand I Love You, Because.

Overall, the Palatinate Music and Theatre awards was a celebration of the hard work and commitment to the arts exhibited by all the winners and nominees. Without their enthusiasm and dedication, the Durham music and theatre scene would not be the vibrant community it is today.