Frequently asked questions

Last Updated - February 2017

Durham and getting there

Q. How easy is it to get to Durham by train?
A. Durham is on the East Coast main line. It takes about 2 3/4 hours from London's Kings Cross or about 1 3/4 hours from Edinburgh. Trains leave every 30 minutes at peak times. If you can book in advance (APEX) the train fares can be remarkably inexpensive if you do a bit of digging.

Q. How far is it by road?
A. According to approximately 260 miles from central London. The A1M (the Great North Road) passes just to the east of the city. It's about 125 miles from Edinburgh. (Updated directions available here)

Q. Can I get there by air?
A. Newcastle airport (NCL) is 25 miles to the north and Durham Tees Valley airport (MME) is 25 miles to the south of the city. Newcastle airport is linked to Durham by rail and Metro. British Airways fly to Newcastle (NCL) from London Heathrow (LHR). Flybe flies from London Gatwick (LGW) and EasyJet flies from London Stansted (STN). There are regular direct flights from many other UK and European airports with associated links to the rest of the world. KLM flies frequently to both aiports from Amsterdam.

Q. Where am I going?
A. The contact details are: 

Van Mildert College

Mill Hill Lane



College Reception

Tel: +44 (0) 191 334 47100

Internal Tel: Ext 4710


Q. We're keen to start the day with a swim. What facilities are available?

A. There is a  25 metre, 8 lane pool in the Freemans Quay Leisure Centre on Walkergate. It is open from 06.30 to 22.30 weekdays and 08.00 to 19.30 weekends. There are numerous other athletic options available within the complex. You can contact the Leisure Centre on 0191 301 8306 for more information.

Arrivals and departures

Q. When do I need to be in Durham?
A. You are welcome to arrive in the early afternoon of Sunday the 16th July 2017 to get set up in your practice rooms and settled into your bedrooms. There will be a tea-time gathering (around 4.00 pm for anyone not raised in the UK!) to say hello and for the latest information. It is quite possible to organise extra accommodation for those who would like to arrive earlier, to have more time in Durham or to better suit particular travel arrangements. Please contact us with any special requests. Bedrooms need to be cleared by 10.00 a.m. on Friday 21st July 2017 but playing rooms are still available until lunchtime for those who would like a session to sum up the week;s work.


Q. How strict is the coaching regime?
A. The timetable is carefully sorted out to give everybody the most benefit from contact with the tutors. That being said, things happen and we pride ourselves on reacting flexibly to changing circumstances. We really appreciate notice of anything which may affect timetabling decisions.

Q. Is there a set work to study?
A. Not that you are required to play but the Maggini will be working during the open rehearsal sessions on a specific work. Details will be sent to you and published here.

General Questions

Q. How can I find out more about ......?
A. You could try our custom search engine at the bottom of the right hand column of this page. It's designed to help you find more information about the Maggini String Quartet and their activities. Try typing "Martin", for instance, as a search parameter to find out more about Martin Outram.

History and background

Q. What has changed about the course over the last twenty plus years?
A. From the early origins in Ilkley under the watchful eye of Bill Wesling the course found a home at, what was then, the National Health Service training centre in Harrogate. We were welcome as long as we filled the otherwise "dead" time in mid-summer. The University of York took over the running of the venue and we continued to be welcome at what became the White Hart Hotel and Conference Centre, filling the "quiet" weeks with music between Harrogate's many trade fairs. These were the days when the business was run and planned on large sheets of cardboard rather than a computer database. The typewriter was the principal tool of communication.
Musically, progress was being made with many of the same participants turning up year after year with consequent cumulative skill building.
The queue for the payphone in the lobby to avoid the cost of using the hotel room phone to call home receded as the mobile phone became a more commonly packed accessory. The relative luxury of the newly installed en-suite accommodation became the special selling point of the course even though we convinced the Maggini quartet it was their coaching that made all the difference.
Regular groups were soon chattering by email about the latest release in the Maggini's "Glory of the English String Quartet" series of CDs and asking if they dared study Bax this summer. The closing concert began to illustrate just how eclectic and passionate about exploring the repertoire the participants had become.
What has become clear over two decades is that the string quartet is alive and vibrant and that if you are serious about having fun, meeting with like minded souls and experiencing that almost undefinable elation that results from playing chamber music well, the Maggini Summer School is the place to be. Moving to Durham was essential. What a good move it has turned out to be!

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Choosing a work to study is just the beginning of the process. Most mainstream works are available in a number of editions. Some publishers still make available different editions of the same work. Most local music suppliers will be happiest selling you the edition they have on hand or the one that their supplier can get hold of most easily. Even the price isn't a reliable guide. Fortunately the Maggini Quartet, thanks to years of dedicated research and bitter experience, are happy to help you decide what to invest in. Click on the link below to get your copy of Maggini recommended editions