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Durham Concerto: wide-screen and cinematic

October 15, 2007

On October 20 Jon Lord’s Durham Concerto is premiered by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mischa Darmev and with himself on Hammond organ at the Durham Cathedral in England.

On UK’s Classic FM radio, Barry McCann recently talked about the studio recording of Jon Lord’s Durham Concerto.

– Quite simply the most exciting composition I have heard for years. From its opening bars you know this is going to be a major work; wide-screen and cinematic in shape, the Durham Concerto is breathtaking. Deep Purple’s keyboard player should be proud, said Barry McCann.

The project was conceived by a Durham University alumnus, John McLaren, a former diplomat and investment banker and now novelist, who is founder of Masterprize, the world’s leading prize for classical composers. Together with the University, McLaren comissioned Jon to write the concerto back in 2001.

The musical influences for the piece span jazz, ragtime, rock, and even Northumbrian folk music, including an old miners’ lament. The 45-minute Concerto consists of six movements, arranged into three parts: Morning, Afternoon and Evening.

Morning describes the Cathedral at dawn and then the town coming to life. Afternoon starts with a movement representing the historic event where monks carried St Cuthbert’s body from Lindisfarne, and concludes as the composer contemplates the wonderful view from Prebends Bridge. The last section, Evening, captures the high spirits of a student dance and a Miner’s Gala, and ends with an imposing, but uplifting, movement in praise of the Cathedral.

Jon Lord colourJon, who is giving his services free of charge, said:

– When I first went to Durham, I was speechless. There is something about the space which is awe inspiring. Until then I had only seen Durham’s Cathedral from the train. Walking up through the old town to Palace Green and that astonishing Cathedral, I knew that I had said yes to the right project.

– If people who hear the music get just ten per cent of the buzz I got from Durham, I will have succeeded in my mission.

– Classical music is something I have held in my heart since I was a young boy. I had always written music and I started to play the classical piano at the age of six. Rock and roll snapped my head around and indeed has defined my career, but it never stopped me from loving classical music.

There are solo parts for violin, cello and the Northumbrian pipes, and Jon Lord will play the Hammond organ in the first performance.

The concert will be broadcast on Classic FM, and a studio recording of the Durham Concerto will be released in 2008.

The Durham Concerto website.

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