Spotlight On: Music Durham

By Will Throp


The university’s music scene continues to flourish, thanks in no small part to the organisational and creative drive of Music Durham. Music Editor Will Throp caught up with Vice-President Dumitha Gunawardene to find out what the new term has in store.

Music Durham Pic

Hi Dumitha! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Music Durham has an extraordinary breadth of talent across the university. Can you give us a flavour of the sheer diversity within the organisation?

We at Music Durham aim to represent and promote as wide a breadth of talent that Durham can offer! From the firmly established University Chamber Choir and Orchestra Society (DUCC and DUOS respectively) to the avant-garde New Art Music Ensemble (NAME), there is a group to suit anybody’s tastes.

Music Durham also encompasses Durham Opera Ensemble (DOE), DU Light Opera Group (DULOG) and the fantastic new InstruMentors initiative, which provides the opportunity for student-to-student instrumental tuition. For more information on our ensembles and upcoming events, check out our website (

Over your time here, you must have seen/performed in some exceptional concerts across the city. Do you have a personal highlight?

In the summer of my first year I was fortunate enough to perform Holst’s The Planets with DUOS in the cathedral. The opportunity to perform such a large work in a venue to match was one I won’t forget in a hurry.

However, I must say that last term’s Northern Lights concert was one of the most entertaining performances I have seen at Durham over the past few years, so do check them out if you can!

How can students who are involved with music on a college level look to get involved in university-wide ensembles?

Each Music Durham ensemble hold auditions (with the exception of the Korean percussion ensemble, who actively encourage those interested to come along), within the first two weeks of each academic year. If there is a specific group you wish to join, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with their exec through our website to find out how their audition process works.

This term sees Durham Opera Ensemble performing Carmen in the Gala Theatre. The group’s Gala show always seems to be a resounding success – are we to expect much the same from this year’s cast?

With a forty-piece orchestra, children’s chorus and a cast directed by Crispin Lord, you can be sure that this year’s Gala performance will be the most thrilling one to date. DOE’s biggest attribute is definitely their ability to transform classic opera into wholly accessible night of entertainment. If for whatsoever reason you haven’t already, get booking your tickets!

Readers may not be aware of some of Music Durham’s smaller ensembles. Are there any that you would particularly recommend checking out?

I would highly recommend the university’s P’ungmul group (also known as the Korean percussion ensemble), who are known for their relaxed and sociable rehearsals. On the other hand is the New Arts Music Ensemble, who welcome musicians from any background and standard to participate in the performance of contemporary classical music. As I say, check out our website for details on concerts that are held frequently.

Photograph: Music Durham

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