Michaelmas term’s Music Durham Lunchtime Concert Series has surpassed all expectations, drawing in audiences of students, staff and locals alike. It has undoubtedly delivered on it its promise of an exciting array of ensembles and repertoire, alongside some of the highest standard performances the series has ever seen, definitively illustrating the plethora of talent within the university.

Following the outstanding Freshers’ Concert, the concert series had an influx talented soloists who utilised this opportunity, not only to develop performance skills, but for the joy of performance. In week 2, violinists Nina Kumin and Pamina Husseini took to the stage. Pamina performed three pieces on violin, relishing the “opportunity to play in front of an audience as a solo performer”. Following this, Nina played the Sarabande and Gigue from Bach D minor Partita No. 2 on a Baroque violin. She said:

“It was my first solo recital on baroque violin and was the perfect relaxed environment for me to feel confident enough to play. It has given me the confidence to now perform more on baroque violin.”

Week 3 featured a quartet of soloists: recorder player Harry Lampert, cellist Helen Butcher, violinist Jess Bobby and flautist Ellie Holland. Harry Lampert performed a recorder concerto, accompanied by Helen Butcher on continuo, bringing an often-overlooked instrument into the limelight. Ellie commented:

“Lunchtime concerts are a great way to gain performance experience in a friendly and supportive setting. It was especially useful for me this term to use it as a marker in my preparation for playing a concerto with DUOS – particularly for flagging up areas that would need more work in terms of technical assurance, being able to remain focused in a relaxed way and to identify any weaknesses in performing it from memory. And making sure that I could enjoy it with all these things in place too!”

The final soloist showcase involved vocalist Hannah Cox and flautist Ellie Knott, who introduced the audience to a whole range of repertoire, including jazz styles that are less-heard on flute.

The concert series has also hosted a diverse selection of ensembles. On 8th November the concert series observed National Saxophone Day with a performance led by Laura Buckingham (president of Durham University Big Band), with an incredibly varied and entertaining programme alongside a saxophone quartet. This was followed by a DULOG showcase of various musical hits, in anticipation of their amazingly successful run of ‘Rent’ at the Assembly Rooms. College ensembles are also encouraged to perform, and this term an assortment of performers from Hatfield College, including Hatfield Voices, soloists Will Harrison and Hannah Thompson, and Hatfield Flute Choir, took up the gauntlet.

A cappella choir Durham Dynamics gave a preview of their Christmas concert at the penultimate Michaelmas lunchtime concert, singing ‘The First Noel’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Christmas to Me’. Durham Dynamics really emphasised the individual talent and uniqueness of the choir, with performances from Katie Vause, who bravely yet beautifully sang Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ unaccompanied, as well as Alex Myall’s acoustic rendition of U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, accompanied on guitar. Beatboxer Chris Robinson encouraged some audience participation with a brief ‘boots ‘n’ cats’ lesson.

Finally, the divine Divinity Quintet will round up this term’s lunchtime concert with a festive selection of carols, as well as a Christmas Suite by Zacharias Johnson, Sleigh Ride, Carol of the Bells and more!

Next term, the Lunchtime Concert Series stars: the Northern Lights, guitar and piano soloist showcases, Hild Bede Jazz band, Full Score, DOE, Trevelyan College Chamber Choir and more! So put Wednesdays at 1:15pm in your diary and keep your eyes peeled for more FREE concerts in 2018!

Fancy performing yourself? Contact Concert Manager Nellie Chadwick-Smith at  nellie.c.chadwicksmith@durham.ac.uk