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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience


In addition to having the No.1 Music Department in the UK*, there are 90 different student run music societies across the University, our colleges and Students Union, covering a whole range of musical tastes.

* The TImes and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and Complete University Guide 2019. 

Making music at Durham

There are so many opportunities to engage with and enjoy all kinds of music as a student at Durham University. The University boasts a year-round musical programme, catering for every taste, with concerts organised and performed by students.
As you might expect, the sheer wealth of musical talent at the University means there is something for everyone - from Chamber Choir to Light Opera, Big Band to Orchestra, Rock and even a DJing Society to join. Many of our colleges have their own choirs, bands, orchestras and music societies too, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and have a go, whatever your taste in music!

Music Durham is the umbrella society for Durham University’s main ensembles, coordinating the activities of the student-run and student led music socieites. Music Durham works closely with student singers and musicians to deliver some of the many concerts, shows and socials, while also providing the professional Masterclass Series for Music Durham members.


As well as orchestras, Durham, has three university level bands: Brass Band, Big Band, and Concert Band.

Brass Band is a vibrant non-auditioned society maintaining the brass band tradition in the university environment. They rehearse weekly and were crowned UniBrass Shield Champions in 2017.

Big Band are an auditioned, traditional 20 piece set up, regularly in demand to play at events and venues across the country including Pizza Express in London and Matt and Phreds Jazz Club.

Concert Band are a non-auditioned wind band; they rehearse weekly and perform traditional concert band repertoire, recently including a sell-our Broadway spectacular!


Durham has a rich choral tradition and this is reflected within the university. With seven university choirs to choose from, as well as college and chapel choirs, there is really something for everyone.

The Choral Society is one of Durham’s largest musical groups performing large-scale choral works termly.

Chamber Choir is a select group of 24 of the strongest choral singers, they perform traditional choral repertoire in intimate events around Durham.

There is also an incredible a cappella scene with three choirs: Northern lights, who sing regularly in the Gala theatre and perform at the ICCAs), Durham Dynamics, our largest a cappella choir who enjoy the richness of harmonies and Full Score Barbershop Society Durham’s newest choir.

Chamber and World Music

Durham offers excellent opportunities to enjoy music beyond the Western Classical music tradition. We also have a number of world music groups including Gamelan, and P’Ungmul (the Korean Drumming group). These ensembles benefit from expert teaching led by local musicians and academics from the Music department. In addition to this we have a number of chamber groups including New Art Music Ensemble, Horn Society, Dunelm Consort, Flute Choir, string quartets, and Divinity Wind Quintet that you can be part of.

Anyone who loves music will find a supportive musical community, where you can set up your own music groups and arrange your own performances. If you are a soloist and want the chance to perform, you can have a slot in the Lunchtime Concert Series which are free to attend, relaxed, and showcases the variety of music Durham has to offer.

College music

Our 16 colleges provide a host of performance opportunities. Each college has its own unique atmospher and ensembles, and there are also some intercollegiate groups. From St Aidan's Voices to Collingwood Big Bang, Hatfield Flute Choir to Mildert's 'Jam by the lake', plus Open-mic events, there is no shortage of music to get involved with and enjoy - be sure to look into the music that your college has to offer!

Even more music

Joining a society is a great way to make friends, especially when you share a musical interest. The majority of the musical activity is student-led through Music Durham, the Student’s Union and colleges. A full list of the societies, and links to their website can be found below:

All student theatre at Durham is student-led and managed with the support of Experience Durham and Durham Students' Union.

Music Department

Underpinning our musical excellence is the Department of Music, one of the leading centres for the study of music in Britain. The Department runs Musicon, the University's public concert series. Musicon organises 12 public concerts per year across various venues by internationally acclaimed artists in the fields of classical music, jazz, musical theatre, world music and contemporary music.

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What's On Guide

For details of events happening in and around the University, from theatre and music to sport and exhibitions check out the What's On Guide.