Durham’s music scene – the entertainment we need

talks to Collingwood’s Music Co-Ordinator about the how the pandemic has affected Durham’s music scene as well as his thoughts on the future of the music community next term.


With the coronavirus outbreak causing third term to be cancelled this has greatly impacted Durham’s incredible music scene. The cancellation of Durham’s largest music events such as Van Mildert’s ‘Jam by the Lake’, ensemble concerts and musicals has left an absence in the chance for students to showcase their talent to the wider community.

I caught up with to discuss his views on the current position of Durham’s music scene, as well as how he has assisted in providing musical entertainment to Durham students. George is a music finalist along with being President of Collingwood College Music Society , Co-Musical Director for Durham’s University Gospel Choir and Secretary for the Durham Original Music & Alumni Network.

Collingwood’s ‘Stag Session’ by .

As a finalist, George emphasised that for those graduating this year, the cancellation of third term is a disappointing outcome, yet the closure of the campus was ultimately the right decision. For finalists, the in-person events would be their ‘last hurrah which has been stomped upon’. However, George has not let this dampen his ambitions for music. He comments “orchestras have been conduced via clever split-screen technology, and choirs have sung songs that reflect the best of us in the worst of times. Indeed, not only have musicians been providing entertainment online, but a lot of people who would not normally be involved in the arts have decided to give it a go!”

Discussing his current position as the president of CCMS, George has been productive, utilising this role to provide entertainment for students through Collingwood’s new Facebook group ‘CWarantine’, and giving them the opportunity to continue showcasing their incredible talent. Emily Bates, Collingwood’s ‘Open Mic Night Officer’, has been organising and broadcasting, ‘Open Mic Nights’ for Collingwood students along with George’s assistance. The support and popularity from this event has spurred George and Emily with encouragement to hopefully hold more of these in the future. As well as this, George comments that Collingwood Voices are currently recording a virtual cover of “You Will be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen. This song is particularly appropriate during a time like this because of the sense of unity and hope contained and emphasised within the lyrics.

“Music is a tool needed to exaggerate feelings and keep us ‘sane’ during this difficult time”

As co-musical director of Durham University Gospel Choir, George discussed his plans for the future of the group. “As co-MD of Durham University Gospel Choir we have had to think of ways to entertain! That is why our other Co-MD Lamarisa Barclay took part in an online university gospel choir quiz, and put up an amazing close and entertaining fight against the University of Birmingham! We may have a few more songs up our sleeves so stay tuned!”

Gospel choir’s performance at St Andrews Church, Corbridge, on Saturday 6th February 2020 by Ian Wylie.

Music plays a crucial role in everyone’s lives and in a time like this it is evident we need it now more than ever. Speaking to George about its importance raised some impressive comments. In particular, what really stood out was his comment “we take what we have for granted until it’s gone: we are currently living through, metaphorically, the cancellation of our favourite TV show, and we are searching for these artists to shine a light on a dark situation”. Music is a tool needed to exaggerate feelings and keep us ‘sane’ during this difficult time.

Music plays a crucial role in everyone’s lives and in a time like this it is evident we need it now more than ever

What’s George’s view on the future for the music community in Durham? Apart from being optimistic, George raised concerns about the lack of exec positions in societies being filled which could ultimately lead to ‘vacuums’ being present. He comments ‘from personal experience, being in three exec positions with a combined number of 23 vacancies that need to be filled, only 5 have been applied for so far but these are still early days and I have faith in the cohort currently to step up and fill those positions!’ As well as this, there will be hesitation when it comes to organising future events as a result of there being a lack of information regarding the circumstances. However, George believes that there will be a strong urge amongst students, in particular freshers and second-years, to make the most of the opportunities they didn’t experience this year. This means that there might be a surge in the events organised for next term to make up for this term.

So what’s George’s advice for the Durham music scene?

‘Be persistent in whatever you do. Take every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.’

Image: by Tyreese Hines

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