Durham University Palatinate Orchestra on Tour in Berlin

Musically talented Johnians Lucy Irving, second year music student and clarinet player, and Rosie Allen share their experiences of their time in Berlin on tour as members of DUPO. Their attendance was facilitated by St John’s College Student Opportunities Fund.

Lucy Irving

With thanks to the St John’s Opportunities Fund, I was able to go to Berlin with Durham University Palatinate Orchestra (DUPO) this June. Having joined the orchestra in my first year, I have been a member ever since and was very excited to discover we were going on tour to Berlin this year.

Throughout my second year, I was part of the tour committee where I designed stash for the trip, including stickers, tote bags, and t-shirts. It was fantastic to see the orchestra wearing the logo I designed whilst wandering the streets of Berlin!

The week was an unforgettable experience and began with us playing two concerts. The first was in St Marys Church, located right next to the TV Tower and the second in the Apostel-Paulus Church in the Schöneberg district. We played works such as Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Brahms Tragic Overture which challenged the orchestra and were well received by audiences. The rest of the week was spent exploring Berlin which was fantastic to do surrounded by musicians as Berlin is known for being a musical city. I went to the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall and was inspired by music, such as Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto No.2. A highlight of the trip was the last evening, where the whole orchestra went to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Closing Season Concert. Held in the Waldbühne Berlin, an outdoor concert venue seating 20,000 people, it was magical to hear the best orchestra in the world perform and certainly left us all in high spirits for the coach journey back to Durham!

Being part of DUPO has been a highlight of my university experience so far and has provided me opportunities to perform with like-minded musicians. The tour to Berlin strengthened my clarinet playing and also brought me closer to members of the orchestra. I would like to thank the Opportunities Fund for covering the cost of this as it was an inspiring trip of which the memories will last a lifetime.

Rosie Allen

Durham University Palatinate Orchestra went on tour to Berlin with just a few days to explore this wonderful city. The 22 hour journey was certainly exhausting, but we made the most of the time to bond with cake, party games and a Shrek movie marathon.

The afternoons were spent rehearsing for our concerts, the first of which was in the beautiful Marienkirche, one of the oldest churches in Berlin. We performed ‘Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances’ by Borodin and the Tragic Overture by Brahms. The following day I practised my finest GCSE German, encouraging people to come in and listen to our second concert at the Apostel-Paulus Kirche.

At Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial I was not prepared for how I was going to feel. All of a sudden, I was hit by claustrophobia and uncertainty whilst walking between these big columns and thinking about the history of the war and the people whose liberty was denied.

If anyone is going to Berlin, then I would highly recommend the Museum of Musical Instruments. No feeling was greater than when a group of 45 musicians were collectively excited about these beautiful instruments dating all the way back to the Baroque period. A very different favourite was the discovery that the Berlin Mall had a slide that went down two floors, and the best bit: adults were also allowed down this slide!

On the final evening we watched the Berlin Philharmonic in the Waldbühne which was my highlight of the tour. For 22,000 people to fall absolutely silent listening to Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an exhibition’ reinforced the power of music to influence us. Our concerts reminded me that music surpasses language and cultural barriers and connects people of all races and cultures.

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