Music in Durham

Saint Cuthbert Oratorio

It’s been hard to miss the presence of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham this summer, and naturally there have been plenty of events celebrating the book’s temporary return home.The beautiful gospels book was created to honour St Cuthbert, and the exhibition in Durham has placed the gospels in the context of Cuthbert’s life and legacy, surrounded by other treasures relating to our greatest northern saint, so it seems only right that he should also be the focus of the concert that marks the end of the exhibition.

The main work on programme is the The St Cuthbert Oratorio, written by Durham-born composer Will Todd in 1995, and it will be performed by the specially-formed Lindisfarne Gospel Choir and the North East Youth Chorale, accompanied by Orchestra North East. I don’t know this particular piece, (although I did find an excerpt on Spotify of the Durham Singers’ recording of it – made before my time!) but I do know that Will Todd’s work is always a joy to listen to and to sing and he’s very much a part of our local musical landscape. There’ll also be a new piece by Will Todd, commissioned for this concert; various whizzy things with lights and sounds; and a children’s procession.

The concert also celebrates the cathedral’s own musicians, the men, women and children who work daily in the building built to honour and house St Cuthbert’s remains; the cathedral choir will sing John Tavener’s Ikon of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and sub-organist Francesca Massey plays Messiaen’s Les Anges – which in my view is worth the price of the ticket on its own, and I’m delighted by the thought that hundreds of people who probably wouldn’t normally listen to Messiaen will have the chance to hear it.

It should be a fun evening, celebrating so much of what makes the North East such a special place to live. Full details are on the events page

Disclaimer: I help with publicity for Orchestra North East


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