Sunday, 15 June 2008

durham concerto - jon lord

My first sight of Durham Cathedral was while on a holiday at the end of the 1970's. The Cathedral, dominating the peninsula and towering over the surrounding countryside, was simply breathtaking and I remember thinking that if I had the opportunity of going to university then that's where I wanted to go. A couple of years later there I was as an undergraduate and I never ceased to be amazed at the building and its setting. In my final year I had a college room (Hatfield College) from which I looked up at the east end of the Cathedral; the only draw back being the bell ringers practicing on Thursday evenings when I was trying to revise for finals. They were three great years in which I never took for granted the privilege of being so close to the building voted as the nation’s favourite in a 2001 BBC poll.

A few days ago I came across Durham Concerto by Jon Lord. Lord was the keyboard player with Deep Purple and was commissioned to write the concerto to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Durham University in 2007. The piece was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the Cathedral on 20th October 2007. This is what Lord wrote about the experience:
‘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.'

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