Conductors and Singers

Musical Director: Julian Wright

Julian Wright has been Musical Director of the Durham Singers since 2007. He was born in Oxford, but has family connections in the North-East of England going back several generations. He is now Professor of History and Head of Humanities at Northumbria University, having previously held a lectureship at Durham University and postdoctoral fellowship at Christ Church, Oxford.

Julian’s career as a professional historian has been married with a heavy musical involvement in a number of different roles. While organ scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he sang in the Cathedral Choir of Christ Church, Oxford. As a professional choral singer, Julian was later a lay-clerk at New College, Oxford and Gentleman-in-Ordinary at HM Chapels Royal, St James’ Palace. He played a number of roles, from Figaro to Ferryman (Britten, Curlew River), performed widely in oratorio, and developed a deep interest in art-song, from Schubert’s Winterreise to Poulenc’s Tel jour, tel nuit.

As Musical Director of the Durham Singers, Julian has developed the choir’s repertoire, which ranges from the high Renaissance to works by contemporary composers such as Julian Anderson, Charlotte Bray, Augusta Read Thomas and others. He founded the Durham Singers Ensemble, a professional period-instrument chamber orchestra, which has accompanied the choir in performances of Bach’s Passions,  Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s The Creation bringing new life into these works for Northern audiences. Julian has a strong commitment to artistic programming that brings a sense of journeying through different styles and eras, and under his direction the choir’s taste in a cappella music has ranged extremely widely, allying major works such as Copland’s In the Beginning or Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia with earlier sacred repertory from Dunstable to Palestrina to Brahms, or with gentler light repertory from folksongs to Negro Spirituals.

Julian has developed a major commitment to musical outreach, leading the choir’s programme to train young soloists in a uniquely supportive environment, working with inspiring professional period instrumentalists, and introducing young choirs around the North East to the major works of the eighteenth-century repertory. He has involved the choir in collaborations with other visiting conductors, notably Robert Hollingworth, founder and director of ‘I Fagiolini’ for a performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers in 2017.

Current Membership

Venetia Bridges, Beth Bromley, Ruth Durbridge, Amy Farquhar Gooding, Lois Gill, Hilary Ions, Sue Moore, Jane Noble, Marilyn Over, Kathy Palmer, Lexy Powell, Christine Purcell, Jo Setchell, Rachel Snape, Jennifer Tasker, Rachel Wearmouth, Deirdre Wilkie

Sarah Clowry, Päivi-Sisko Eerola, Maria Fleming Lotz, Barbara Fox, Wendy Hughes, Jo Londesbrough, Rosie Patterson, Pam Plumb, Caroline Roberts, Susan Shaw,  Heather Smith, Ian Stout, Lotta Väänänen

Alex Chisholm-Loxley, Michael Gilmore, Wynn Griffiths, David Harris, Richard Hird, Colin Patterson, Euan Ross, Malcolm Smith

Julian Chadwick, Nigel Day, Gerald Ions, Steve Rundle, Anthony Smith, Simon Squires, Mike Stephenson, Simon Tasker, Peter Wilkie