Category Archives: Music

Vestra Vox Concert

An awesome £231.02 was raised at the Vestra Vox concert in Chad’s Quad last week! The money was raised in aid of finding treatment, hospice care and family support for Spinal Muscular Atrophy sufferers in the UK. SMA is a disease that robs people of physical strength. often taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe. It is the number one genetic cause of death for infants and 1 in 40 carry the gene that causes the condition! Due to the fact it is relatively common, it is a charity which many hold close to their heart, thus it was such a success that we were able to raise such a considerable amount of money at the concert!

Attendees had a fab night especially those who won the blackberry gin liquor gift set which was kindly donated by Durham Distillery!  Early birds certainly caught the worm as Q-Jump Wristbands for Klute were given out to those who arrived promptly.

The line up included Velvet Riverside, Autofluorescence, Man like AB and Chad’s band, Halcyon. Halcyon played a mix of originals and covers and had the crowd raise the roof to ‘She’s So Lovely’, ‘Boys That Sing’ and ‘Naive’.

Well done to Matthew Prudham our Music Rep, and thanks to Van Mildert for tech support and all Chad’s volunteers!

Green Door hosts fresher’s showcase


St. Chad’s College Green Door Theatre company held its debut fresher’s showcase on Sunday, 9th October.

The event introduced fresher’s to the theatre group, and displayed the range of musical, poetic, artistic, and comical talent the JCR has to offer. The successful evening was reflected in its high attendance – a cheerful number for its first show of the year.14691901_655508014612404_2048378808342599027_o

The evening began with a melody by the college’s Chazz Band, which finished with their iconic rendition of ‘County Roads’, a college classic! The audience were serenaded by Wales’ pride, Dewi. Jess, Hilaire, and Craig recited poetry. Griff and Harry performed sensationally on the piano, and Cormac acted out a Spike Milligan classic. David, Alex, and Fergus performed compelling monologues. Izzie and Milly respectively gave phenomenal performances on the pole and violin.


Green Door’s President, Christie Clark hosted the evening, introduced each act, and mentioned a little about their college presence.  They had a successful fresher’s fair uptake, but are always continuously looking for new members. You can view their page at

Green Door will next bring to the stage Tim Firth’s ‘Flint Street Nativity’. Interviews open 17th October.



St Chad’s Choir tours Amsterdam

From 15th – 20th June, our College choir went on tour to Amsterdam, the beautiful capital city of The Netherlands. Following the overnight ferry crossing and some initial sightseeing, it was time to depart for Sint Nicolaaskerk in the picturesque town of Edam for our first concert.

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum (and its famous sign) was a popular destination when our choir weren't singing
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (and its famous sign) was a popular destination when our choir weren’t singing

Our concert programme was centred around Vierne’s haunting and powerful Messe Solennelle, and was interspersed with other choir favourites, including Bruckner’s  Locus Iste and Christus Factus Est; Byrd’s setting of the Ave Verum Corpus and Ireland’s moving Greater Love Hath No Man. Our concerts also featured organ recitals from our Organist Dr. Peter Swift and Director of Music Roger Muttitt. We also featured a violin solo from second year choral scholar and Music student Emma Coombs.

The Catholic Church in Edam was packed for the evening concert, and Vierne’s Agnus Dei moved one member of the congregation to tears, which was incredibly touching to hear. However, there was considerable debate over whether they were tears resulting from the beautiful music, or the slight mishap of our baritone soloist interrupting the soprano solo during Greater Love. We hope that it was the former! One tiny hiccough, nonetheless, did not  stop our choir receiving a hearty round of applause and standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert.

The following day saw a second concert, this time at the English Reformed Church in central Amsterdam. After an extended lunch break for sightseeing, we assembled outside the Royal Concertgebouw. This is one of the most famous concert halls in the world and it is home to one of the greatest orchestras in the world. We were given the privilege of taking to the main stage for a choir rehearsal. It was quite an honour to stand upon the stage that has played host to classical music giants Riccardo Chailly and Mariss Jansons.

Rehearsing in the Royal Concertgebouw
Rehearsing in the Royal Concertgebouw

Our final destination on tour was the Gothic Oude Kerk in Delft. It is a town renowned for its ceramics and the Dutch Golden Age painter Vermeer, who is buried inside the Church. The echo and reverberation inside this building was incredible, and it reinforced and complemented Aston’s contemporary piece Alleluia Psallat. It is notoriously difficult to sing, but we managed to pull it off! The acoustics also accentuated our violinist Emma Coombs’ stunning rendition of Elgar’s Chanson de Matin. The choir were once again received with a rapturous round of applause and standing ovation, and it brought to an end another incredibly successful choir tour.

Another image of the stunning Rijksmuseum
Another image of the stunning Rijksmuseum

The tour to Amsterdam also heralded the end of another successful year for St. Chad’s Chapel Choir, and we look forward to welcoming new members from all of Durham University’s colleges when the new academic year commences in October.

Photography courtesy of Naomi Ireland-Jones, who has recently graduated with a First Class degree in Archaeology and Anthropology. She has sung with our college choir for three years and will be sorely missed!


The Organist Entertains

On Thursday evening, our Director of Music, and talented organist, Roger Muttitt, delivered a recital in the Chapel inspired by two themes: Variations and Shakespeare. It was an exquisite selection of pieces, and they were all delivered masterfully.

Roger’s first piece would be familiar to everyone who is a fan of the BBC’s The Apprentice. Sergei Prokofiev’s Dance of the Nights from his ballet Romeo and Juliet usually accompanies the start of each episode, and tonight, Roger himself transcribed the orchestral arrangement for the college’s organ. A slow, haunting and steady section is situated between by the famous thundering chords which accompany those dreaded words “You’re fired”!

Roger Muttitt became Director of Music in October 2015 and is also Head of Music at Durham School
Roger Muttitt became Director of Music in October 2015 and is also Head of Music at Durham School

William Shakespeare died 400 years ago, and it was very fitting that Roger selected music inspired by the bard for tonight’s recital. His other theme, Variations, was also an excellent opportunity to showcase works inspired by a common theme. His next selection was Jan Pieter Sweelinck’s Variations on ‘Mein junges Leben hat ein End’, which was written in the Sixteenth Century, in a similar style to Byrd and Gibbons, who wrote music with which Shakespeare would have been familiar. The Dutch song has a very soft, subtle melody, and as the Variations progress, it evolves into a rich, quick and powerful work that tested our Director’s dexterity and athleticism!

The Belgian composer Flor Peeters wrote Variations on an Original Theme some three centuries later, and it shares a similar structure and style, with a gentle, subtle introduction, followed by a rousing finale. This Twentieth Century piece had a richer texture, almost evoking a black-and-white film score, but it was delivered with skill and poise, with a particular highlight being the rapid fast movement.

British composer William Walton wrote the Henry V Suite, and Roger chose the Passacaglia entitled Death of Falstaff. Sir John Falstaff is a Knight who fell out of favour with the King (“The King has killed his heart”). Walton’s music begins slowly, with a sombre, powerful slow section reminiscent of a funeral march. The organ – being the King of all instruments – is capable of evoking joy and sorrow equally, and Roger’s juxtaposition of the moving Walton in between the happier Peeters and Bach meant that the audience was presented with a complete array of emotions.

The recital concluded with J. S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor. An organ piece by a Baroque master was a fantastic finale to the programme. The passacaglia began like the Walton passacaglia, with a slow, sombre, gradual beginning, before evolving into the powerful and uplifting fugue. Roger interpreted Bach’s music beautifully, and as the organ grew louder and stronger, every note was played to perfection, and the audience duly gave our Director of Music a hearty round of applause as he drew the recital to a rousing end.

St. Chad’s College currently has a vacancy for an Organ Scholarship, and an Organ recital is usually delivered every term in the Chapel. On Monday, the College choir will combine with the rest of Durham University’s college choirs to sing Evensong in the Cathedral, before departing upon a tour to Amsterdam.




Chad’s Musicians Showcase Their Talent

The choir get ready to perform
The choir get ready to perform

On Thursday, the College’s choir, staff and students gathered together in the chapel for an evening of fantastic music. Following a successful visit to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh in February and appearance at the North East Festival of Youth Choirs, this concert was an ample opportunity to share some of the choir’s musical highlights. A rousing rendition of Noble’s Magnificat in B Minor was accompanied by Geoffrey Burgon’s subtle and moving Nunc Dimittis, accompanied by trumpeter Tom Rickard (first year, Economics).

The theme of British music continued with SCR member Liz Roberts providing a stunning recital of ‘The Swimmer’ from Elgar’s Sea Pictures, and choral scholar Emma Coombs treating the audience to the main theme from Nigel Hess’ Ladies in Lavender on the violin.

Choral scholar - and violinist - Emma Coombs plays Hess on the violin
Choral scholar – and violinist – Emma Coombs plays Ladies in Lavender

Tom Rickard then joined Abigail Ingram (first year, Music) for a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine. This performance was back by popular demand, because the pair had also previously played and sung together in Durham Cathedral for the Chad’s Day service.

Abigail Ingram and Tom Rickard perfomed Handel
Abigail Ingram and Tom Rickard performed Handel together

Our choral scholars Bryony Freer and Tom Heywood performed Schumann and Bach respectively. Bryony sang du ring an meinem finger, and Tom treated the audience to the piano accompaniment to Bach’s sixth Violin Sonata.

Then there was a change in mood. Away went choirs and classical composers, and in came the fantastic Toh Yi Rong (first year, Natural Sciences), who sang Zina Goldrich’s Taylor the Latte Boy, complete with her own Starbucks cup! Our Director of Music Roger Muttitt accompanied this most unusual of songs on the piano, and the audience were amused and captivated by this modern serenade about meeting a young man behind the counter of a coffee shop.

Toh Yi Rong and Roger Muttitt with 'Taylor the Latte Boy'
Toh Yi Rong and Roger Muttitt with ‘Taylor the Latte Boy’

Talented pianist Ollie Griffiths (first year, Chemistry) played the soothing adagio from Beethoven’s Pathethique Sonata (No. 8), and then it was time for the grand choral finale.

Ollie Griffiths with Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata
Ollie Griffiths with Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata

The contrast between Stanford’s heavenly Beati Quorum Via and Vierne’s almighty Kyrie from his Messe Sollenelle (with a fine accompaniment from our College organist Dr. Peter Swift) was stunning.

St. Chad’s College is awash with musical talent, and Thursday’s concert was an opportunity for our fantastic musicians to share their talents. We hope to make these concerts a regular fixture on the College Calendar!

St. Chad’s College Chapel Choir is the largest and most diverse of Durham University’s college choirs, welcoming in talented singers from other colleges too. The choir sings Eucharist every Sunday at 11am, and a service of Choral Evensong most Thursdays at 6:30pm. Next term, they will be going on tour to Amsterdam.

There are Choral and Organ Scholarships available to students, and requests for information should be sent to Roger Muttitt (