Durham reflections – did you go?

jonlorddurham.jpgLast night at Durham’s Cathedral, Jon Lord and the Liverpool Philharmonics premiered Jon’s Durham Concerto.

If you were there and would you like to share your thoughts, please use the comments box below.


11 thoughts on “Durham reflections – did you go?

  1. Dear Jon,
    WONDERFUL, EXCELLENT , MOVING, These are just some of the emotions I felt sitting just 4 rows on front of you last night. You caught Durham just right and I should now coz I live here! Also thanks for taking the time to sign my Sarabande Cover. Once again “Thank you for providing the Soundtrack to my Life”

  2. Jon,
    As David has said, you really did seem to capture Durham within you music last night. The soloists were all wonderful, particularly Ruth Palmer. Thank you so much for a very entertaining and quite emotional evening.

  3. Let’s see if your comment box is big enough to cope with this 😮

    I’ve never been to a concert that had so many speeches before it started. And I’ve certainly never been to one that had a prayer before it started. But then, I’ve never been to a concert in a cathedral before…

    So it seems like a good idea to talk about the venue first. I’ve always said that Durham Cathedral is, without any doubt at all, the best cathedral I’ve ever been in. Now I also think it’s the best-sounding concert venue I’ve ever been in. I can’t really describe what’s special about the sound quality in it. There’s just something special about the way you feel the music, the way it fills up the space, like… no, honestly, I can’t put it into words. It’s just amazing.

    Some negative points about the venue: first, it’s got the most uncomfortable seats ever created. After an hour, those benches are really hard on the nether regions! Secondly, it’s flat. The orchestra isn’t on any form of raised platform (it seems) and so all I could see was the heads of the soloists at the front and percussionists standing up at the back. It shouldn’t really matter, but I like to watch what people are doing. At the end I didn’t really know who I was applauding as I couldn’t see who was taking the bows.

    So although I had a decent seat (middle of the nave, right behind the VIP section) I could have been anywhere and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

    I can’t even begin to guess at the audience size but it was very full with hardly an empty seat that I could see, and with a huge cross section of ages and modes of dress. I don’t know how many were Jon Lord (Deep Purple) fans and how many were just classical music fans but I would guess that the latter predominated.

    The Durham Concerto was the only piece played and it lasts approximately an hour. It seems to me that “concerto” is a misnomer. It’s more like a suite of connected pieces with some solo parts, rather than something specifically built around the solo instruments. It’s in six parts, with each one representing a part of a day in Durham. And if you’ve read the programme notes, you really can hear what each part claims to represent — the morning section does make you think of a sunrise and early birdsong, then the sounds of the town waking up, and so on.

    It begins with strings playing the “rhythm section” to the trumpets (very Sibelius) and moves into a beautiful cello tune that I think is repeated several times over the course of the music. There are themes established early on that seem to be repeated throughout — or, at least, there are parts later on that sound very familiar and you realise you think you heard them in a previous movement… sorry, I can only be vague about it. Already, just a day later, the exact details have fled from my mind.

    So, rather than try to describe the whole thing, I’ll just point to a few elements.

    The Hammond Organ — it is used in a very minor role, only really noticeable in parts of the fifth (fast) section. When it plays, it’s unmistakable Jon Lord (I wonder what the musical notation for “rrrrrrrrrrrrr” is?) but anyone who went expressly to hear Jon play Hammond again will have been disappointed.

    The pipes — I absolutely love the sound of the Northumbrian pipes. Here, Jon uses them in a solo role to incorporate the traditional Northumbrian tune “Bonnie at Morn”. (I think I’m being stalked by this tune; I seem to be hearing it everywhere recently.) Then later they are accompanied with the orchestra and the two sounds — to my surprise — meld beautifully well.

    Anyway, I knew as soon as it had finished that I was going to forget most of it. Even though I loved it as it was being played, it isn’t the sort of music that lodges itself in your mind after a single listen. There are many beautiful moments, but there is no obvious “hook”. There are too many elements, too many tunes that segue one into the other, for any one to stand out. There are repeated motifs but there is nothing you can come away humming (the exception being the folk tune, but that’s only because I’ve heard it many times before). That doesn’t detract from the music as you listen to it, but it does mean that it is music you need to hear many times before you’re “comfortable” with it, if that makes sense.

    It’s definitely a modern-sounding (but not “modernist”) piece of music, it’s extremely tuneful and melodic, it shows all the influences that fans of Jon Lord will have heard before, and it really sounds like a piece of “Jon Lord music”. Beyond that, I’m not sure what else to say. I enjoyed it immensely for the fleeting hour it lasted and I’m looking forward to getting the CD and learning it all over again.

    I really hope this made sense to somebody…

  4. Nothing short of fantastic…I have a special love for the northumbrian Pipes, so Kathyrn Tickell’s input was what I was waiting to hear. But then I was suprised to enjoy the whole experience, too. Looking forward to the CD!

  5. I looked forward to this concert from the moment that I read about it, being a lifelong fan of DP and in more recent years discovering the wonderful ‘extra curricular’ work that Mr Lord has produced.

    My anxieties were only in that the seating wasn’t reserved, and we may end up sitting behind a 6 foot wide pillar! My wife and I got there early, joined the queue, and luckily were sat about 12 rows back, centre aisle, with a full view of Jon’s intro speech, and then a full length rear view of the excellent conductor, sadly obscuring Jon Lord during the performance! Admittedly the benches were agony on the spine after an hour, but my God, what an hour.

    Classical music is of course not to everyone’s taste, but for my wife and I this was a mesmerising, uplifting piece of work, moving as it did from haunting ‘dawn’ based themes, lilting Northumbrian piped work, riotous student chaos, ecclesiatic (if that’s possible) motifs, and finally the wonderful summation of the entire work in the final movement. The sound was good if not fabulous, with neither too much reverb, nor too little ‘presence’ – it certainly beats Leeds Town Hall, but then, what venue doesn’t?!

    There were themes that in a way are a continuation of Jons recent Beyond The Notes CD, without being a rehash, and it was obvious when he was using existing other work as reference points – and this was a good thing on the whole. The only bit that stood slightly apart was the aforementioned ‘student’ part that began with a fabulous ‘space trucking’ type organ flourish, begore the orchestra came in – I wonder whether this will remain when the piece is played elsewhere, without Jons participation, as it seemed to me to be anod to the DP fans in the audience, rather than a necessary part of the music.

    The ticket price of £12, that were sent postage free, is possibly the greatest value for money that has ever been, and to discover that the programme was free was almost taking the you-know-what!

    The true sign of having witnessed magic is when the thing has finished, and you immediately can’t quite believe that it happened. As Zana and I walked out of the cathedral into the freezing cold Durham air, it was as if we had just woken from a wonderful dream. It was an occasion which I shall never forget, and more than makes up for being too young to have seen DP in the 70’s.

  6. I was also there travelling especially for this concert from Warsaw (Poland) via Amsterdam and Newcastle just for a couple of hours to be spent in the Durham Cathedral. Extraordinary place, beatiful music, very “Lordish” with easily heard influences of his other recent works, of which “Pictured Within” comes to the mind first. Hovewer this was heavy duty with powerful orchesta at full flight. Thanks Jon for this wonderful evening.

  7. My wife Malgorzata and I feel privileged to have been able to attend the world premiere of the Durham Concerto.

    It was, indeed, a most special concert presenting a beautifully sensitive, poignant and inspiring work in the magnificent evocative space of the Cathedral.

    Absolutely marvellous!

  8. My first classical music concert and thanks to the quality of the music, definitely not my last!
    Been to the cathedral many times and the setting was perfect.
    Congratulations to Jon Lord and all of the musicians for a fantastic concert.

  9. I also was not able to make it to this performance, but what I was able to hear was the internet broadcast of the Durham Concerto from my computer here in Arizona, U.S.A. on a beautiful Sunday morning (11 a.m. AZ time/6 p.m.-U.K. time) – 4 Nov. 2007.

    A mention of the internet broadcast appeared on one of the forums that I participate in regularly that is dedicated to all past and current members of Deep Purple. Since I knew I was going to be home at the time of the broadcast, I was glad that I would have a chance to hear Jon’s latest work.

    Well, all of the three movements within this Concerto, was nothing short of moving and incredible in my book. Katie Durham, the host of the Hall of Fame Concert on ClassicFM seemed quite pleased as well.

    I look forward to the possible release of this Concerto in the near future. If not, then I would like to thank you again Jon for composing and performing a wonderful piece of work for your fans, outside the UK, to enjoy.

    And a special thanks to ClassicFM for the broadcast of this performance on this beautiful Sunday morning.

    Julia Mills
    Glendale, Arizona, U.S.A.

  10. Like Julia Mills I listened via the internet radio broadcast, though I am a little closer (only 15 miles from Durham).

    A magnificant peice of work and I hope more in this vein will be forthcoming in the future.

    Many thanks Jon, wonderful.

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