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Durham University News

News

Revival of Durham’s 18th Century classical music in pubs

(11 February 2009)

A remarkable North-Eastern duo who used to stage concerts in public houses in Durham, and on the high streets of northern cities, are being highlighted in a forthcoming music event in Durham this weekend.

Durham University’s Music Department is marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of North-east composer, Charles Avison, with a concert featuring his music, and that of his close friend, and fellow composer and music promoter, John Garth (1721-1810).

The eighteenth-century was a boom time for North-East music with northern composers leading the way in new music creation. Durham composer John Garth and Newcastle’s Charles Avison popularized classical music, and reached new audiences by taking their music to the people, on the streets of Newcastle, and in the pubs of Durham.

Classical concertos by Durham composer, John Garth, written during this era of classical populism, will feature in the concert series being staged at Hatfield College, Durham on Saturday, February 14th 2009. The concertos are written in an early classical style, but have features that are clearly Baroque. They were officially published in 1760, but were being performed at live public events in Durham as early as 1753.

Professor Jeremy Dibble from the Durham University Music Department said: “Newcastle-born Charles Avison and his Durham pupil John Garth were two of England's most gifted and important composers; the concert is a unique opportunity to hear their music in an original location where it was heard 250 years ago, and to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Avison's birth.”

PHD researcher Simon Fleming, an expert on Durham’s music heritage said: “Durham was a vibrant centre of music production during the eighteenth century, with John Garth being, without question, the most able composer to work there during that period. His music enjoyed considerable popularity at the time, and was, despite Durham's remote location from London, decidedly cutting edge.”

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