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University Choral group sings to acclaim with the Royal Northern Sinfonia

A university choral society has been making a big impact in recent months in the North East of England. Earlier this year, Durham University Choral Society (DUCS) performed alongside the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) and Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia as part of Big Bruckner Weekend at the world-renowned Glasshouse International Centre for Music in the region.

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

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 North East England. 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.


They are the only professionally conducted music society at Durham University, under the baton of John Forsyth MBE. They regularly collaborate with Durham University Orchestral Society, with a concert including Beethoven’s 9th Symphony coming up in June 2024.

Performing Bruckner's 'Great' Mass has 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 DUCS said: "Our partnership with the Royal Northern Sinfonia is strengthening all the time. We're 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 led by conductor Thomas Zehetmair to create textures of gleaming lucidity".

The wider musical offering of Durham University consists of more than 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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