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Sound Samples
The Cathedral at Dawn
Durham Awakes
The Road from Lindisfarne
From Prebends Bridge
Rags and Galas
Durham Nocturne

This is not a MusicWeb review but is the company Press release. A review by Rob Barnett can be seen here.


Durham Concerto

Part 1: Morning
1. The Cathedral at Dawn
(solo violin, solo cello, Hammond organ)

2. Durham Awakes
(solo violin, solo cello, Hammond organ, Northumbrian pipes)

Part 2: Afternoon

3. The Road from Lindisfarne
(solo violin, solo cello, Northumbrian pipes)

4. From Prebends Bridge
(solo cello)

Part 3: Evening

5. Rags & Galas
(solo violin, solo cello, Hammond organ)

6. Durham Nocturne
(solo violin, solo cello, Hammond organ, Northumbrian pipes)

Total time: 56.27

Ruth Palmer
Matthew Barley
Kathryn Tickell
Photo: Jochen Braun
Photo: Alexandra Wolkowicz
Photo: Graham Oliver

Matthew Barley - Cello

Jon Lord - Hammond Organ

Ruth Palmer - Violin

Kathryn Tickell - Northumbrian Pipes

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Mischa Damev

The magnificent Norman cathedral on the rock, part of the World Heritage site shared by Durham University and Durham Cathedral, was the setting for the world premiere of Jon Lord’s Durham Concerto commissioned by the University to commemorate its 175th anniversary. The 1,000 strong audience rose spontaneously to its feet as the final climax reflected Sir Walter Scott’s vision, which is engraved on Prebends Bridge: “Grey Towers of Durham/ Yet well I love thy mixed and massive piles/ Half church of God, half castle ‘gainst the Scot”. The work emotionally evokes the sense of history, scholarship, place and community evident in Durham - an unbroken line from St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede, Europe’s leading scholar of the 7th and 8th centuries, to the modern day university. Jon Lord, known to all for Smoke On The Water and as the driving force behind Deep Purple, was classically trained and has returned to his roots.

Durham Concerto cements Lord’s position as a leading contemporary composer. Each of the six movements in this hour-long piece reflects a different aspect of a day in Durham. The serene “The Cathedral at Dawn” has undertones of Vaughan Williams in its expansiveness, while “Ragas and Galas” celebrates town and gown, using Bernsteinian rhythms and interruptions of “Gaudeamus Igitur.” Northumbrian pipes, played by its world’s leading exponent, Kathryn Tickell, give a true sense of North-East wilderness and melancholy to “The Road From Lindisfarne,” reflecting the pilgrimage by the Cuthbert Community, carrying St Cuthbert’s body and the Lindisfarne gospels, one of the world’s great treasures, to found Durham Cathedral in the 11th century. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Mischa Damev perform the work along with an array of world class soloists in this concerto for violin, cello, Northumbrian pipes and organ: Ruth Palmer (violin) who won the Young British Performer award at the 2007 Classical Brit Awards, Matthew Barley (cello) who featured in BBC2 TV’s “Classical Star” series, leading folk musician Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian Pipes) and of course, Jon Lord on his original Hammond organ, one of the very few occasions that such an evocative instrument has been used in an orchestral setting. Jon Lord’s “Durham Concerto” is a contemporary classic.

Jon Lord writes:

The general inspiration for the music was an idea of Durham, garnered from two or three short visits and a reading of a short history, so a sort of ‘Durham of the mind,’ a stylised Durham; My Durham, if you will, imagined into music. However the defining inspiration for the piece was the cathedral. My first visit to Durham in 2001 saw me standing open mouthed on Palace Green and then in silent awe as I walked into that formidable magnificence inside. Most of the themes came from the days immediately following my first experience of this extraordinary, imposing building. The feeling that the very stones and pillars themselves are imbued with centuries of prayer, with people’s joy, grief, despair, even anger, gratitude and hope. As the tunes and chords and sounds started to organise themselves in my mind and on manuscript paper, I realised that I was writing a sort of ‘Day in the life of Durham’ and that the Cathedral would be its beginning, would be in its middle and would be at its ending.


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