Music Durham are committed to student involvement in our local community through our numerous Outreach projects. We think it is important that we give back to those that continually support our societies, and our students are always excited to share their music.

For the past few years, we have partnered with Student Community Action (SCA) to facilitate volunteering opportunities in the wider community. This year Student Volunteering Week (SWV) falls from 19th to 25th February, and the Music Durham societies will be out and about in the community, for example at the fortnightly SCA Tea Parties. Indeed last term Brass Band, the Divinity Quintet and Voices performed at the fortnightly SCA Tea Parties at St Oswald’s Church, allowing students the chance to meet the local community and form friendships as well as combatting loneliness in the elderly population.

The Divinity Quintet, alongside several of Chamber Choir’s singers, also performed at the Cathedral Volunteers Tea Party, which was held as a ‘thank you’ for their work keeping Durham’s infamous heritage site in working order. Also keeping their close ties to the cathedral, Brass Band were invited to play at the inaugural ceremony of the Cathedral’s Remembrance Garden.

Over the Christmas period, a cappella group the Durham Dynamics went Care Home Carolling, whilst the Chamber Choir performed at a Prison Christmas Carol Concert and further afield in Shadforth Village. Chamber Choir President Sophie Rudge said:

“Durham University Chamber Choir sang two carol services at HMP Durham at the end of last term. This was the first time that the group had gone to the prison and was a great opportunity for members to perform in a different environment. The choir are grateful of opportunities to perform and give back to the community.”

 Music Durham in Schools

Music Durham are also keen to connect with the younger generations of Durham through their work in schools, in an endeavour to foster an interest in music in children from a young age. Brass Band enjoyed playing their Christmas set at Wellfields Schools Christmas Fair.

This term, Music Durham will continue to cultivate our growing relationship with Whitworth Park School. Our students will be providing extra guidance and support with GCSE Composition and Performance examinations. Whitworth Park students will also be attending open rehearsals with Northern Lights, Chamber Choir, as well as the annual Music Durham concert, held in the Cathedral in June. This will culminate in an exciting joint concert between Concert Band and Whitworth Wind Band.

This term, the Durham University Palatinate Orchestra will continue to inspire younger children with their annual Schools concert. I spoke to Vice-President Zoe Wardell, who explained the ideas behind this years’ event:

DUPO is thoroughly thrilled to be able to host the Schools Concert for up to 400 school children on Wednesday 7th February at the Gala Theatre. The theme of this year’s concert is Music Through the Ages, we will be looking at the evolution of Classical Music and the offshoots into ballet, symphonic, opera and film music. DUPO is proud to have the opportunity to hold this concert every year in order to inspire the younger generation to take up a musical instrument or engage with music, irrespective of genre. The concert features DUPO Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hugo Jennings, with an interactive sing-along element this year! We sincerely hope this concert not only inspires the pupils to consider music in a different light, but also that our own students are able to benefit from offering their skills to the local community through thoughtful, albeit fun means. 

As part of SVW, the Divinity Quintet will visit Finchale Primary, where they will be playing an arrangement of ‘the Carnival of the Animals’ for Wind Quintet, complete with narrators and teach them about the various instruments. Through volunteering at schools, our societies hope to encourage children to get involved with music through edifying and interactive experiences such as these. Collingwood College are also taking parting in SWV by running musical activities in local schools, building their confidence and communication skills.

Raising money for charity

Many societal concerts raise money for charity: the collaborative concert between DUOS, Chamber Choir and the Northern Lights gave £1 of every ticket sold to the Salvation Army, whilst Flute Choir’s ‘Christmas with a Twist’ concert asked for contributions in lieu of profit, which, alongside the money they made from busking in the town centre, were donated to national charity ‘Sense’, who help disabled people of all ages communicate with and feel connected to the wider society.

Finally, Gamelan society have opened up their rehearsals for anyone, with students and locals exploring and performing on these lesser-known instruments.

If you would like to get involved with one of our many outreach programmes, contact Hannah Cox at [email protected]