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Colleges and wider student experience

Student news

Music Durham Spring Programme

(8 March 2017)

Around 1,200 students are regularly involved across 60 ensembles, with around 50 concerts staged each year and this year they are busier than ever, with a packed programme of performances planned for Spring to celebrate their success.

The University highly values student participation in extra-curricular activities such as music, believing that they play a crucial part in developing life skills and the desire to make a positive difference to the world, both before and after graduation.

Competition success
Durham University Brass Band (DUBB) recently competed in Harrogate to win the annual UniBrass Competition, this year in the inaugural UniBrass Shield Category.

Similarly, University A Cappella group Northern Lights competed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCAs). The group’s hard work paid off, and they were ecstatic to be crowned winners of the quarter final. Special mention should go to Rachel Dungate, who was awarded 'Outstanding Soloist', and Yuki Matsumoto for his 'Outstanding Vocal Percussion'. The group now qualify for the London semi-final on 25 March, which places them in the top eight a cappella choirs in the country. The winner of this UK semi-final will then get the chance to progress to the international final in New York.

A packed musical programme
On 8 March, the Durham University Concert Band (DUCB), celebrate their 40th anniversary with a concert in Durham Town Hall. The band has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, and under the directorship of new conductor Evan Penn the band will perform repertoire from a variety of distinguished composers, including a crown jewel of concert band repertoire, Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger.

Swing, Strings and Sir Tom
A highlight of this year’s musical programme will take place on Friday 10 March, when Sir Thomas Allen, the University’s Chancellor and world-renowned opera star, will give a one-off concert of jazz and big band classics at the Gala Theatre, Durham City.

Accompanied by the string section of the Durham University Orchestral Society (DUOS) and the award-winning Durham University Big Band, the Seaham Harbour-born baritone will ditch his operatic persona to delve into the world of Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra.

DUCS Platinum Anniversary
11 March the Durham University Choral Society (DUCS) is embarking on a concert joint with Durham University Palatinate Orchestra (DUPO) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the choir. For this Platinum anniversary, the society will be performing Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, first performed 130 years ago, and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. This will be the first complete performance of this major work in Durham Cathedral.

Summer Music
The University is keen to welcome audiences to enjoy the first-class music on offer from its students, available close to home and at affordable prices. Looking further ahead, two major concerts are planned for June: A celebration of British music and composers, which will take place in Durham Cathedral on Friday 2 June, and Around the World in 80 Minutes, a celebration of music from across the globe, to be performed in Durham Castle on Sunday 4 June. These events will mark the opening of the Durham Festival of the Arts, a festival organised by members of Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre.

Musical Outreach
Musical Activity is co-ordinated by Music Durham, a forum for organising and promoting music making around the city. Music Durham also stages lunchtime recitals, runs masterclasses with visiting professionals, offers funding and financial support and operates a successful outreach programme to North-East schools and children.

Durham University Brass Band’s Schools Team regularly visits primary schools to give assemblies and short performances; the Palatinate Orchestra invites more than 500 primary school children to the Gala Theatre each February to perform for them and teach them about the instruments of the orchestra; and Northern Lights, an a cappella ensemble, performed Christmas carols for the Children’s Ward at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

Abi Groocock, President of Music Durham and Principal Conductor of Durham University Brass Band, said: “We have some wonderfully talented student musicians at Durham University and we’d love more local people to come and enjoy the performances we put on.

“In addition, many of our students are passionate about sharing their expertise with others and I’d encourage any schools or groups that would like to hear more about our outreach programme to get in touch.”

For more information on these and other Music Durham events, or to book tickets, visit

Find out more about the varied music scene at Durham, direct from our students, read their blogs online Student Blogs

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Watch clips of Music Durham Perofrmances on Youtube:
Big Band Pizza Express Jazz Club footage:
DUOS Chamber footage:
Durham University Concert Band footage:
Durham University Choral Society footage:

For more information on Durham University’s cultural contribution to the North-East, visit