A few people this year have asked me about what our aims are as a concert series. The questions have come from a genuine curiosity about how we see ourselves fitting into Durham city as a whole, as well as an interest in whether Musicon is primarily a vehicle for enjoying musical performance, or more of an academic pursuit. Given the importance of these questions, I thought I would take the opportunity here to address them here.
Musicon is first and foremost a professional concert series for both for the University and the City of Durham as a whole. Our aim is to bring world-leading performers to the North-East, and to offer our audience the chance to experience something unique in the region. At the same time, Musicon is linked to the work carried out in our Music Department. It is often our connections with musicians all over the world that allows us to bring performers of such a high caliber to the city. As a result of this, I am proud to be able to present a programme that is both rich and varied, exploring Western music from the middle ages all the way up to our own time, as well as from a wide range of other cultures around the world.
This will naturally mean that, while some of the names on the programme are familiar to many, others will be a complete mystery. For some, it may seem daunting to attend a concert with music that you know absolutely nothing about. To try to address this understandable apprehension, I have decided to offer pre-concert talks, as a means of introducing our audience to each event. With the generous support of my colleagues in the Music Department, we will hopefully be able to shed some light on what might otherwise seem entirely cryptic to you, so that you can approach the music with a new sense of familiarity and understanding.
To start the season off, the Leonore Trio will be offering a programme of iconic works, including Parry’s first piano trio, in celebration of composer’s centenary. Our second concert is from the world-renowned Bozzini quartet, coming all the way from Canada to give us a wonderful programme of works ranging from the middle ages to the present, including a brand new commission from Durham composer James Weeks. We end the first half of the season with a concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act. John Snijders, Head of Performance in the Music Department, will give a recital of works by women composers, including a selection of pieces by suffragette Dame Ethel Smyth.
In the new year we have teamed up with Durham Vocal Festival to give you a wonderful concert of Italian madrigals with the superb vocal group Exaudi. This is swiftly followed by another visit by another welcome visit from our long-term friends the Brodsky Quartet. After that we are delighted to offer you not one but two festivals: the first, the annual Musicon Focus event, will see the Ives Ensemble present three stunning programmes of 20th Century music, focusing on the groundbreaking experimental works of Alvin Lucier and the timelessly beautiful canons of Aldo Clementi. To end this season, we are proud to host the 7th Festival of East Asian Music; three concerts showcasing wonderfully virtuosic musical artistry while opening windows onto the rich musical heritages of China, Japan and Korea.
We hope you are as excited about this programme as we are and that you will join us to enjoy some fantastic music from some of most exciting performers the world has to offer.
Dr Eric Egan
Chair of Musicon