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An orchestra and chorus standing on stage

Durham University Choral Society (DUCS) performed with the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RMS) and Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia last term. This stunning display of regional collaboration was part of the 'Big Bruckner Weekend' at the world-renowned Glasshouse International Centre for Music in the North East of England.

The 80 members of the Choral Society travelled to Gateshead to rehearse with the professional orchestra and its Chorus through last term. The collaboration culminated in a sold-out performance of Bruckner’s awe-inspiring ‘Great’ Mass.

Watch the video of the collaboration below:

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Developing regional partnerships

DUCS is one of the oldest and largest musical ensembles at Durham University. Students have been singing as part of the society for 75 years across the region. In the past two years, they have performed regularly in Durham Cathedral, and collaborated with the Cleveland Philharmonic Choir for a performance in the Glasshouse International Centre for Music in February 2023.

The Choral Society has been establishing a fruitful regional partnership with the RNS and its Chorus. In October 2022, they joined forces to develop a musical installation in Durham Cathedral. Singing a choral arrangement of Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, one of the most famous pieces of English classical music, the partnership gave rise to three joint performances, with singers spread out across the Cathedral.

People seated in cathedral watching a performance

Performing Bruckner's 'Great' Mass further developed the relationship with RNS. John Forsyth, Music Director of Durham University Choral Society, said: "the involvement of Durham University with the Royal Northern Sinfonia is one of the special events of the year, and I hope it will continue for many years to come".

Henry Grainger, member of Durham University Choral Society said: "Our partnership with the Royal Northern Sinfonia hasn't begun this year, but is strengthening all the time. We're really hopeful that this relationship will continue long into the future".

The performance of Bruckner's 'Great' Mass received excellent reviews in national newspapers, with The Guardian writing: "The full-sized RNS was more persuasive in Bruckner’s Mass No 3 – its forces beguilingly intimate, in fact, alongside the combined mega-choir of Durham University Choral Society and the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia. The choral sound was gloriously warm and finely balanced with the RNS by conductor Thomas Zehetmair to create textures of gleaming lucidity".

With over 30 choirs, orchestras, bands and other musical societies from award-winning a cappella vocal ensembles to jazz groups and full-scale orchestras, DUCS contributes significantly to the musical life of Durham, and beyond.


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