North East Connected

Oktoberfest Gets a Classical Twist in Durham

It’s Oktoberfest with a difference in Durham this year with a Classical Anglo-German Music Performance.

Classical music fans in Durham are in for a treat next week when a Youth Orchestra from Germany play a joint concert with Durham County Youth Orchestra.

Oktoberfest may be more traditionally about beer, but in Durham on October 7, at St Joseph’s Church in Gilesgate, Oktoberfest is taking on a classical music persona.

Over 50 young people from the Buxtehude Youth Symphony Orchestra will share the stage at St Joseph’s Church, with 50 of their counterparts from Durham, playing Sibelius‘ Finlandia and many more pieces including:

Formed in 1948 the County Youth Orchestra is Durham Music Service’s oldest ensemble, it was then restructured in 2010. The Orchestra has performed at Sage Gateshead and has taken part in workshops with professional players from the prestigious Halle Orchestra. The Orchestra undertook a new venture last year performing live music to the film The Snowman in December 2015 at Ushaw College, Durham. This year the Orchestra will be performing again at the Sage as well as working with members of the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Rebecca Howard, Conductor of Durham County Youth Orchestra said:

I am greatly looking forward to working with Buxtehude Youth Symphony Orchestra.  It will be an exciting experience for our students to listen to and play alongside another youth orchestra.”

The Buxtehude Youth Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1985 and its members come from Buxtehude and surrounding areas, but also further afield including Hamburg. In recent years they have played in France, Italy, Florida, Chile, Croatia, Greece. Oboist Andreas Désor was one of the founding members of the orchestra and is now the conductor. He was recommended to use Northern Secrets to organise the trip by a previous customer of the north east based tour company.

Andreas Desor, Conductor of Buxtehude Youth Symphony Orchestra said:

“The orchestra is really looking forward to this visit – our tour always a big highlight for us every year! We are really looking forward to meeting the Durham orchestra, learning from each other, making new friends and playing a concert jointly. These trips help our group of musicians grow together and each new tour helps form new bonds and we find the social togetherness a real benefit for the orchestra long after the trip has taken place.”


The concert is part of a Northern Tour for the German musicians as they visit North East England with Northern Secrets, a bespoke tour operator specialising in bringing groups of visitors to the UK from Germany. Northern Secrets which has been operating since 2008 and provides personalised and bespoke quality tours around northern Britain including Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire and North East England.

Their week-long tour will also see them playing a concert at The Alnwick Garden and rehearsing at Sage Gateshead as well as taking in the magnificent sites in the region with trips to Alnwick, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland Coast, Durham City and the North Pennines.

Northern Secrets managing director, Alex Jacobs said:

“I am really looking forward to hosting this musical visit to the region. The musical life of North-East England is incredibly rich and varied. We are hoping to spread the word and welcome many more musical groups to North East England in the future, not just for music but also as tourists. 

“Last year a report highlighted the economic impact and the value of music tourism to the north east economy. We are finding that international visitors with a passion for music want to visit the area but are also very interested in seeing what else the region has to offer, which can only be beneficial to all tourism businesses. There is a real appetite for visiting this amazing region.”

The Wish You Were Here 2015 report revealed the vast contribution of music tourism to the local economy in North East England. In 2014:

Tickets for the concert are available from St Joseph’s Church, Gilesgate in Durham or by

Tickets cost £7 adults and £3 for 18 and under with proceeds from the concert going to the Church Asylum Seekers Fund.

Northern Secrets is aiming to increase the German coach market for tourism businesses in North East England.There are 19.4 million bus and coach holidays taken by German people every year, with a value of over 10 billion euros. And two-thirds of these trips are to destinations outside of Germany. North East England is already a popular destination for German holidaymakers with 56,000 visiting every year.

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