Music Durham were delighted to welcome back Timothy Burke to Durham to give one-one-one conducting masterclass sessions to three of our student orchestral conductors!  Tim has been the Music Director at Tête à Tête, producer of the world’s largest festival of new opera, since 2013, and has a rich repertoire of experience in choral, operatic, ballet and orchestral conducting in venues such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Barbican Hall.

The afternoon began with Will Fox, conductor of Durham University Orchestral Society’s Chamber Orchestra, who worked with Tim on Ravel’s ‘Le tombeau de Couperin’, one of the composer’s most popular works.  The piece is technically challenging and intricate for the players, and Tim and Will focused together on bringing moments of colour out of the rich texture in the first and third movements.  DUOS Chamber will perform this piece alongside other repertoire on Saturday 7th December in Durham Castle Great Hall.

Sam Read, conductor of Durham University Hill Orchestra, worked on Gerard Finzi’s ‘Nocturne’, inspired by New Year’s Eve.  Tim and Sam especially focused on expressing the dark, sombre mood of the piece’s opening through body language as well as conducting technique.  You can see Hill Orchestra perform on 3rd December in Elvet Methodist Church.

The final session of the afternoon was with conductor Marcello Palazzo and viola soloist Laura Cooper, rehearsing Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto for this term’s Durham University Orchestral Society’s Symphony Orchestra concert.  Tim focused on the most difficult corners of this famously fiendish piece, to ensure conductor and soloist’s synchronicity could be clearly expressed to orchestral players.  You can see Laura perform alongside the Symphony Orchestra on 23rd November in Elvet Methodist Church.

The afternoon was a great success, and we are so grateful to Tim for providing this opportunity to our student conductors.  Special thanks must also go to the masterclass pianists, Mary-Anne Grego, Amanda Botelho and Matthew Kelley.  All tickets for this term’s upcoming concerts are available at