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Concerts to watch in Durham this Michaelmas: A highlights reel

Michaelmas term can be a gloomy time, here are my top picks of music concerts to brighten up the next month!


Don’t miss out on Durham’s plethora of musical concerts this term! To make the selection process easier, I’ve compiled a quick list of my upcoming favourites below. If this list doesn’t suit your musical palate, much more can be found on Durham Student Music’s What’s On page.

1. Durham University Choral Society’s ‘Rejoice’

What

Although DUCS’ carol service in the Durham Cathedral is a staple of Michaelmas term, its other concerts are seriously underrated. The titular cantata of the concert is Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb which sets Christopher Smart’s obsessive anaphora on cats and God to haunting, touching music.

Britten’s unaccompanied Five Flower Songs contrast the former piece with mercurial shifts, encompassing both the jolly and menacing moods of the floral poems that the songs are set to. Arvo Pärt’s mass for the fall of the Berlin Wall Berliner Messe, Lili Boulanger’s eerie siren-song Les Sirènes, and James Whitbourn’s Son of God Mass, starring the soprano saxophone further embellish this sensational programme.

When

Friday 24th November, 19:30-22:00

Where

Elvet Methodist Church

Buy tickets here.

2. Durham University Orchestral Society’s ‘Change and Conflict’

What

DUOS’ Change and Conflict theme explores the nuances in musical expression created by political chaos and uncertainty in the decades leading up to the Second World War. Bacewicz’s Overture sways from a chaotic flurry of strings to calm woodwind sections, whilst Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes by Carl Weber’ and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 revive elements of the late Romantic in harmonic retaliation against Nazi hostility.

When

Saturday 25th November, 19:30-21:30

Where

Elvet Methodist Church

Buy tickets here.

3. Durham University Palatinate Orchestra’s ‘Masquerade: Schumann, Stravinsky and Beach’

What

Another orchestral powerhouse of Durham, DUPO, presents a night of music for the dance! In the first half of the evening, Amy Beach’s Bal Masqué in all its fully orchestrated glory (as opposed to its solo piano original) will lead you into an enchanting waltz. This is followed by Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite crafted for the ballet using the narrative of an 18th century play about a commedia dell’arte stock character.

In the concert’s second half, Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 paints a vivacious picture of the Rhineland using themes from German folk dance.

When

Wednesday 29th November, 19:30-21:00

Where

St. Oswald’s Church

Buy tickets here.

4. Footnotes’ ‘A Festive Night with Foot Notes’

What

Footnotes never disappoints in creating a feel-good yet highly professional ensemble performance, especially around Christmas time. Acapella renditions ranging from ABBA to Vaughn Williams promise seasonal joy and wonder alike, ensuring that everyone has a taste of their musical preference.

When

Sunday 3rd December, 20:00-21:30

Where

Elvet Methodist Church

Buy tickets here.

5. Durham University Chamber Choir’s ‘O: Advent Antiphon’

What

DUCC shall explore two musical settings of the 6th century “O” antiphons which anticipate the birth of Christ, the first by Paweł Łukaszewki and the second by none other than the Christmas king Bob Chilcott. These highly contrasting works provide an auditory experience like none other as Łukaszewki’s dramatic dissonance and Chilcott’s sweet lyricism portray both a longing for salvation and an expectation of Christ’s tenderness when he will be brought in to the world.

When

Tuesday 5th December, 19:30

Where

Our Lady of Mercy & St. Godric’s Church