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Award for 2nd-year student

Tristan Latchford has won The Nicolas Thorpe Composition Award, in association with Southwell Choral Society. Tristan is a second-year student in the Music Department, specialising in composition.

The competition invited composers under the age of 25 to submit choral works of up to twelve minutes in duration. Tristan’s winning piece is entitled De Profundis, and was written to be performed by Southwell Choral Society, a mixed-voice amateur ensemble with orchestral accompaniment.

It explores the harmonic capabilities of this ensemble, with a structure incorporating a twelve-part triple fugal exposition. The piece follows a new set of harmonic rules based solely on voice leading, enabling it to move smoothly from consonance to dissonance without difficulty, while drawing upon many influences, including baroque and renaissance forms. The adjudicators commented that De Profundis is “skilful, well thought out and fits the brief really well… It is well structured with good orchestral writing and variety of texture.”

Tristan receives £500 prize money, and the piece will be performed along with Mozart’s Requiem by Southwell Choral Society at a concert on 19 November 2016, at Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire.

Please see Southwell Choral Society’s website for full details.

(21 Oct 2016)

Research Forum 16-17

The Music Department's Research Forum lecture series returns with its 2016-2017 programme. The series features presentation and discussion of the latest research from across the discipline, with leading scholars from around the UK joining the best work from within the department at Durham.

This year's programme features work in the fields of historical musicology, music analysis, music psychology and ethnomusicology. Each event is free and open to all.

The Research Forum begins at 2pm on Tuesday 18 October 2016, with a lecture from Durham's Dr Katherine Hambridge, entitled 'Genre Consciousness' in Napoleonic Theater.

For full details of the lecture, and of the whole series, please see the Research Seminars 2016-2017 page.

(18 Oct 2016)

Prof Dibble's rediscovered Stanford work

Charles Villiers Stanford's Song to the Soul features in The Bach Choir's ‘Best of British’ concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 30 October 2016 at 3:00pm. The concert showcases great twentieth-century British composers, with seminal works by Britten, Walton and Vaughan Williams featuring alongside Stanford's work, recently rediscovered by Prof Jeremy Dibble. The Philharmonia Orchestra and David Hill join The Bach Choir for the evening.

Full details of the concert can be found here.

Song to the Soul will also enjoy a live performance at Leeds Town Hall with the Leeds Philharmonic Choir, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and David Hill on 25 March 2017 at 7:30pm.

More information is available here.

(13 Oct 2016)

Music & Science Lab website

The Music & Science Lab comprises an interdisciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in systematic and computational musicology, music psychology, and ethnomusicology. It employs a range of empirical methods to investigate questions related to the perception and cognition of music and its role in human interactions. It is also committed to collecting, annotating, and sharing collections of audiovisual music performance recordings to support cross-cultural scientific music research.

(12 Oct 2016) » More about Music & Science Lab website

Lectureship in Composition position

The Department of Music seeks to appoint a suitably qualified candidate to a permanent full-time Lectureship in Composition tenable for from 1 October 2017. The successful candidate will be a composer, specialising in areas of acoustic composition. The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the development and delivery of our composition curriculum and enhance our research culture, including the capture of research funding, impact and external engagement. The successful candidate will contribute to teaching composition and related technical subjects at UG and PG levels and participate in the Department’s burgeoning research culture.

Search for the full job specification via the university's Academic Talent page.

(10 Oct 2016)

Durham Music Department Ranked 1st in The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017

Durham's Music Department has been ranked 1st out of the 79 assessed departments in the prestigious Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, rising from 3rd in 2016. The league table measures research excellence, employability, student satisfaction, teaching quality and entry standards.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, the University's Vice-Chancellor, commented: “This is an outstanding achievement and reflects the hard work and dedication shown by all of the staff and students within the Music Department. As well as the first-rate educational environment, our music students also benefit from the rich and vibrant musical life the University offers, providing a truly distinctive student experience.” 

Durham attained its highest-ever position in the league table rising to 4th overall. The full press release can be viewed at:

(26 Sep 2016)

New study by Prof Tuomas Eerola shows link between empathy and being moved by music

People differ in their emotional responses to sad music, and new research shows that the way people respond can be predicted from personality traits. While many people report feeling relaxed and peaceful after listening to instrumental sad music, only highly empathic people report being deeply moved by such music.

Familiar sad music has been known to produce strong experiences of pleasure due to autobiographical memories associated with the music, but that this is the first time strong positive emotions are demonstrated in the context of sad unfamiliar music.

The research, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, was funded by the Academy of Finland.

Open Access paper: 

(16 Sep 2016)

Works by Dr Eric Egan performed at Darmstadt and Oslo

Performance of "Interplay of Bones" at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, 4 August 2016

Dr Egan's "Interplay of Bones" was performed by Joao Pacheco (percussion) and Juna Winson (trombone) in Darmsadt. The piece, which was premiered in Durham in June, was written as part of a long-term project that will see further performances in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in late 2016/2017.


Three performances in Oslo, 13/14 August 2016

The PULS festival in Oslo saw performances of three works by Dr Egan, including "Movements and Mazes" (commissioned for and performed by percussion trio SISU), "A Stain on Silence | Unmeasured" (commissioned for and premiered by saxophone duo Decho Ensemble), and "Solar Cycles of Arbitus Place" (commissioned for and performed by E7B SoundLab, Durham University's professional ensemble in residence).

Visit Dr Egan's website for more information.

(29 Aug 2016)

Geography, Music, Space - one-day conference

One-day conference supported by the Institute of Musical Research
25 January 2017, Durham University
CFP Deadline: 15 September 2016

Keynote speaker: George Revill, The Open University

How does music shape diverse spaces, such as an immigration detention centre, a street performance, a military wives’ choir, or a family kitchen? Is there common ground to be found between researching the chants of a protest marcher, the beats of a commuter’s headphones and a soloist’s concert hall recital? What is the role of music in the construction of space, and vice versa? How and why do we research this?

Following this link for full details and call for papers.

(15 Aug 2016)

Prof Martyn Evans invited to give prestigious lecture at University of Western Australia

2016 Callaway Lecture, School of Music, UWA; 19 October 2016

Since its inauguration in 1988, the Callaway Lecture Series has become one of the most prestigious events on the calendar at the University of Western Australia's School of Music. The series is co-sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Studies.

Professor Evans will also speak at the school's Research Seminar for graduate students, the university's Medical School and the Centre for the History of Emotions.

Follow this link for full details of the Callaway Lecture Series.

Music, embodiment and the imagination – for good or ill

Music is one of life’s joys: life-enhancing, life-affirming, and widely thought to have therapeutic possibilities. The predominant attempts to understand music-as-therapy – mostly within neuroscience, but among many practitioners as well – focus on ‘how it works’ rather than on why it could work. The trouble is that this leads us to reductionist accounts that seem to leave out what makes musical experience musical.

We need an understanding of musical experience that takes seriously the imagination and the will, as well as the body. One way to approach this is to explore another side of musical experience – its sometimes intrusive, disruptive appearances, and the connection that these reveal between imagined sound, the sensations of bodily movement, restlessness and anxiety.

This can lead us on to an alternative, more ‘existential,’ view of music-as-therapy whereby musical experience, operating through the imagination, recalls our sense of our ‘pre-morbid states’ – in other words, how we felt before we were ill – offering us both consolation and reassurance. In the process, we may find we do more justice not only to music-as-therapy but to musical experience in general.

Professor Martyn Evans is Principal of Trevelyan College, and Professor of Humanities in Medicine in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health; he is also an associate member of the Department of Music.

(4 Aug 2016)

A Great Divide or a Longer Nineteenth Century? Music, Britain and the First World War - one-day conference

Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies One-Day Conference
21 January 2017
Durham University
CFP Deadline: 1 September 2016

This conference aims to contribute to the understanding of artistic and cultural responses to the First World War. We seek papers that explore themes of rupture/ disillusionment and “mining of nineteenth-century” modes of representation/ tradition within the context of musical life throughout the British Empire. Participants from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives that engage with music are particularly welcome.

Please visit the conference website for full details and call for papers.

(28 Jul 2016)

Prof Julian Horton co-edits major new publication on Schubert’s Late Music for Cambridge University Press

Schubert’s Late Music: History, Theory, Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) is co-edited with Lorraine Byrne Bodley. It covers a wide range of issues on the aesthetics, analysis, history, performance and interpretation of Schubert’s late music, bringing together a stellar array of eminent Schubertians.

Click here for full details.

(19 Jul 2016)

New publication on theological and anthropological conceptualisations of chant by Prof Bennett Zon

Zon, Bennett (2016). Anthropology, Theology, and the Simplicity of Benedict XVI's Chant. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 19(1): 15-40

FOR A LATE-VICTORIAN THEOLOGIAN like John Harrington Edwards music is by its very nature sacred. Writing in God and Music (1903) he claims that “music … speaks of God, from God, for God, and to God.” Other Victorians considered music to be neither sacred nor secular. For them music existed only to serve the basic human need of expression. Evolutionist Herbert Spencer epitomizes this materialist view when he suggests that the function of music lies entirely within the human mind, to help develop its “language of the emotions.” Chant was often caught in this ideological crossfire. For anthropological thinkers like Spencer chant was primitive and utilitarian; for theologians like Harrington it was developed and spiritual. For both of them, however, chant was also “simple.” For theologians chant encapsulated divine simplicity; for anthropologists, human simplicity.

Click here for links to the full text of the article.

Bennett Zon is professor of music at Durham University, founding director of the Durham University Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, and co-director of the International Network for Music Theology.

(4 Jul 2016)

Department welcomes applications for postdoctoral fellowships

The Department of Music invites expressions of interest from postdoctoral researchers interested in making applications under the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship or Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship schemes.

Applicants for the British Academy scheme must be UK or EEA nationals, or have completed a doctorate at a UK university; they must have completed a PhD within the last three years (viva since April 2014).

Fellowships are held for three years, and include a full-time salary and research expenses. For more details, visit the British Academy’s web site.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships are available to fund researchers who wish to move to Durham from within the EU or internationally for research purposes.

Eligible candidates are encouraged to read the relevant information here.

Please contact Professor Martin Clayton (Director of Research) at no later than Friday 8th July with an expression of interest. Please include an abstract (c.100 words) and outline (c.800 words) of your proposed research programme and a CV.

(28 Jun 2016)

AHRC project 'Khyal: Music and Imagination' holds artistic dialogue event in India

Khyal: Music and Imagination - a visual interpretation of an archive of Hindustani classical raga (marwa)

Nandan Museum Gallery, Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India; 28 June 2016, 4:15pm

'Khyal: Music and Imagination' is an AHRC-funded project based at Durham University which aims to stimulate new forms of artistic production based on interactions between performers, ethnomusicologists and visual artists, and to promote public engagement with music and visual arts.

As an extension of this project and initiative of the artists, Hindustani classical vocalist Ranjani Ramachandran and visual artist Mahjabin I Majumdar have organised an evening of presentations, dialogue and music based on their collaborative work.

Click here for full details of the project. 

(24 Jun 2016)

New study by Prof Tuomas Eerola on emotional effects of sad music attracts widespread interest

Memorable Experiences with Sad Music—Reasons, Reactions and Mechanisms of Three Types of Experiences

Sad music can provide enjoyment, comfort or pain to different people, according to new research looking at the effects of melancholy songs on the emotions.

Researchers at Durham University, UK and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, said their findings could have implications for how music therapy and rehabilitation could help people’s moods.

The musicologists looked at the emotional experiences associated with sad music of 2,436 people across three large-scale surveys in the UK and Finland.

They identified the reasons for listening to sad music, and emotions involved in memorable experiences related to listening to sad music. 

Writing in the prestigious scientific journal PLOS ONE, the researchers said that the majority of people surveyed highlighted the enjoyable nature of such experiences, which in general led to clear improvement of mood.

The researchers said that listening to sad music led to feelings of pleasure related to enjoyment of the music in some people, or feelings of comfort where sad music evoked memories in others.

However, a significant portion of people also reported painful experiences associated with listening to sad music, which invariably related to personal loss such as the death of a loved one, divorce, breakup, or other significant adversity in life.

The article has drawn significant attention in the science press, including in Neuroscience News, Medical XPress, EurekAlert and PsyPost.

Read the full article in the journal PLOS ONE here.

(15 Jun 2016)

Prof Jeremy Dibble celebrates centenary of 'Jerusalem' at Beamish Museum

Saturday 11 June 2016, 10am – 5pm; Beamish Museum

Prof Dibble will be on hand during a day of celebrations marking a hundred years since 'Jerusalem' was composed by Sir Hubert Parry. Jeremy has conducted extensive research into the life and music of the English composer, and his enduring legacy on music across the country.

This year marks the centenary of 'Jerusalem', which brought together the words of William Blake’s poem with Parry's music. The hymn, with its rousing music and enduring popularity, has even been debated in Parliament for adoption as a national anthem for England.

Prof Dibble is a renowned expert in nineteenth and twentieth century British and Irish music. He will be taking part in the event at Beamish on 11th June to celebrate the hymn that earned such a special place in the hearts and history of England.

Read a full interview with Prof Dibble and details of the event here.

(8 Jun 2016)

DurhamKLANG contemporary music festival returns for 2016

10-12 June 2016

DurhamKLANG is the city's own contemporary music festival, with concerts from professional and student groups.

This year's festivals will include five concerts from 10th-12th June. The concerts will include a very diverse repertoire of experimental music, modern classics, as well as the premières of more than ten works written especially for the occasion. For more information see Music's What's On guide.

(3 Jun 2016)

Dr Katherine Hambridge awarded Jerome Roche Prize 2016

Durham lecturer Katherine Hambridge has received the Jerome Roche Prize 2016 for her article 'Staging Singing in the Theater of War (Berlin, 1805)'.

The Royal Musical Association awards the prize annually for a distinguished article by an early-career scholar; the prize commemorates the renaissance music specialist Jerome Roche, who taught at Durham University from 1967 right up until his premature death in 1994.

Dr Hambridge's article appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society in 2015. Using a number of unusually well-documented nights in the Berlin Nationaltheater in 1805 and 1806, she explored Prussian attempts to create a culture of popular political song modelled on French revolutionary practices, taking in questions of singing and political agency, national sentiment and monarchical self-preservation, and theories of the Sonderweg and 'defensive modernisation'.

Read Dr Hambridge's article here.

(2 Jun 2016)

Performance of Dr Eric Egan's 'Fragments' and 'Hewn' at Augusta's in Oslo

Dr Egan's "Fragments" and "Hewn" will be premièred by Pål Solbakk and Ingvild Sandnes at Augusta's in Oslo at 19.30 on Thursday 2nd June. These are the second and third pieces from the cycle "Fragments | of Shapes | Hewn | in White | Silence" to see the light of day, after "in White" was premièred by Dario Calderone at the IMPULS Festival in Graz in February 2015.

(31 May 2016)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra latest CD release: “fuoco e fumo” by Prof Richard RIJNVOS

The latest CD release by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) features fuoco e fumo, a work by composer Richard RIJNVOS.

Premiered in June 2015 by Amsterdam’s world-famous ensemble, the piece was recently performed by the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Shi-Yeon Sun, during the ISCM World Music Days 2016 in Tongyeong (South Korea), where the composer represented his native country of The Netherlands.

The orchestral work fuoco e fumo ("fire and smoke") depicts the disastrous fire that destroyed the Venetian opera house La Fenice in January 1996. The piece was originally commissioned and premièred by the RCO, with whom the composer currently enjoys a long-term residency.

The new CD on RCO Live (the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's own in-house label) is entitled “Horizon 7”, and carries the catalogue number RCO16003. Besides Rijnvos, it features works by George Benjamin, and Magnus Lindberg.

Read more here.

(24 May 2016)

Performances of works by Dr Eric Egan in London, Oslo and Dublin

"Through the Embers"

Roundhouse Theatre, London; 25 April 2016

Dr Egan's "Through the Embers" was performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists at the Roundhouse Theatre in London, as part of an event organised by nu:nord, an interest group for composers from Canada, Norway, and the UK. This is the seventh performance of the piece, which addresses our relationship to the past and present through a series of evolutionary structural processes. It was originally written for the Ives Ensemble in 2013.



"Movements and Mazes"

Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo; 14 May 2016

Dr Egan's percussion trio "Movements and Mazes" will be performed by SISU at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. The piece, which explores complex gestural relationships between movement and sound, was originally written as a companion piece to Georges Aperghis' "Les Guetteurs de Sons", for the IMPULS Festival in Graz in February 2013. 


"murmurrandoms" première with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

National Concert Hall, Dublin; 16 May 2016

Dr Egan's "murmurrandoms" will be premiered by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. The event, which is a collaboration between the orchestra and the Irish Contemporary Music Centre, is part of a pilot project aimed at bringing new composers and audiences to the world of contemporary orchestral music.

(13 May 2016)

Prof Jeremy Dibble marks Queen's 90th birthday with radio interviews on role of Master of the King’s/Queen’s Musick

Professor Dibble examines the role of Master of the King’s/Queen’s Musick in the Royal Household, exploring the music written to commemorate significant royal occasions through the ages.

Listen to the full feature (in German) from the cultural radio channel WDR 3 here.

(5 May 2016)

Durham Music Department ranked 2nd in the Complete University Guide 2017

We’re delighted to announce that the Music Department has been ranked 2nd out of the 77 assessed departments in the Complete University Guide 2017, rising from 3rd in 2016. The league table measures research excellence, employability, student satisfaction and entry standards.

Full details can be viewed here.

(27 Apr 2016)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays 'Union Square Dance' by Prof Richard Rijnvos

6 & 8 May 2016, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (Netherlands)

On 6 and 8 May 2016 the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO), conducted by maestro Gustavo Gimeno, will perform Richard RIJNVOS' Union Square Dance. The work is scored for two identical orchestras that are positioned stereophonically on stage.

Originally commissioned by NTR ZaterdagMatinee and first performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2009, Union Square Dance is the final part of Uptown|Downtown, an urban panorama in six movements, which is thought of as an evening-long dance production about city life in Manhattan.

Carrying the disarming motto “divided we fall, united we dance,” the work is a euphoric dance, incessant and unceasing. The performances by the RCO mark Richard Rijnvos' creative engagement with the world-famous symphony orchestra from Amsterdam, in a long-term residency that started in 2011.

A studio CD-recording of Union Square Dance is available on Challenge Classics CC72538.

For more information, click here.

(26 Apr 2016)

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships at the Music Department

The Music Department invites expressions of interest from outstanding candidates who wish to apply for a prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship through Durham University. We welcome expressions of interest from eligible candidates working on topics related to our specific research fields within musicology, ethnomusicology, theory and analysis, cognition, composition and performance, and on related interdisciplinary projects: potential candidates are encouraged to explore the information on our current research on our web site. These Fellowships aim to provide opportunities for career development for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers, but with a proven record of excellent research.

Further information on the Leverhulme Trust Scheme, including eligibility criteria, can be found here:

Those who wish to express interest in applying for a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship should contact Professor Martin Clayton at and be prepared to provide the following information by 15 January 2016.

  1. curriculum vitae

  2. detailed account of the proposed research, (2 pages of A4, Times New Roman 12 pt). This should state the aims, objectives, method and publication plans, with particular attention to explanation of the significance of the subject, and the research problem and questions. This statement should be clear and precise, with bibliographical references given in full.

  3. abstract of the proposal in non-technical terms so as to be easily comprehensible to a non-expert.

  4. details of the research being undertaken in the Music Department which is relevant to your proposal.

Applicants will be sent comments on their proposal, and, if judged suitable for support, further advice will be provided on the draft application. These applications undergo a process of scrutiny and selection by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Those whose proposals are to receive Faculty support will be informed in good time to enable any further refinement of the application, before submission to the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships scheme by its deadline of 10 March 2016.

Durham University is one of the UK’s leading universities for research in Arts and Humanities. It offers an acclaimed environment for the support of early career researchers. The University holds internationally important research collections and in REF 2014 the Faculty of Arts and Humanities was ranked 6th among similar faculties. The Music Department was highly ranked in REF 2014 (2nd overall in Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts in the research intensity ranking). All departments in the Faculty pursue world-leading research and interdisciplinary research is further supported through several research centres and institutes.

(15 Dec 2015)

Durham ranked in top three departments in REF 2014

(19 Dec 2014) » More about Durham ranked in top three departments in REF 2014