News: Support from Arts Council England and local trusts

​We’re delighted to announce that we’ve received generous financial support from the Arts Council National Lottery Fund for our Monteverdi Vespers this Saturday, as well as grants from a number of local trusts.

​The funding that we receive for our big orchestral concerts helps us to create something that we think is rather special, helping us in our aim of bringing high quality performances to as many people as possible, and to nurturing the next generation of musicians and sharing of some of the greatest music ever written with our community.

In previous years, we’ve supported young singers who are preparing for professional careers, or who are making plans to go to music college, giving them rare and cherished opportunities to perform to a professional standard with some of the country’s best period-instrument specialists. The technical demands of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers means that the solos have to be left in the capable hands of I Fagiolini, but we have been able to involve younger singers this time, from Durham Johnston School and Durham County Youth Choir, introducing them to a complex and exciting masterpiece, in a fully professional and high-level performance. During rehearsals they’ll be receiving coaching and advice from Robert Hollingworth and baritone Greg Skidmore, and from talking to some of them, we know that they’re very excited to be singing with the sackbuts and cornetts too.

As a choir we build on our skills with every concert we do, but working on Monteverdi with Robert has taken this development to a whole new level. We’ve seen how serious scholarship and musical imagination can combine to bring Monteverdi’s settings of the texts to life, and through working with his team, we’ve been given insights into the music that we’d never had on our own – we’d not be able to pick up Monteverdi’s music and deliver a polished performance without this sort of expert input. We’ve also learnt from Robert’s general choral expertise, and the work we’ve done one phrasing, production of text, tuning and general choral style will benefit us across our whole repertoire, making us all better singers.

Our concerts would be nothing without the continuing support of our audience, and we are always conscious of our place in our wider community. The support we receive from trusts, our patrons, our sponsors and the Arts Council help us to keep our ticket prices down, to give reduced prices to students and young people, and to encourage our youngest concert-goers with free tickets. Our regular orchestra, the Durham Singers Ensemble, is made up of players from one of the country’s top ensembles, few of whom come to the North East; this will be the first time that I Fagiolini have performed as a group in Durham. In smaller venues, we sometimes have to turn people away because of space, but putting on these concerts in the cathedral, we can ensure that there is room for everyone who wants to come. We also want to share our enthusiasm and understanding of our music with as many people as possible, and thanks to sponsorship, we have been able to give our concert programme booklets out at no charge, so that everyone can follow the texts and read the notes and we make a point of sharing additional background to the music on our website and in our newsletters.

We’d like to thank the following organisations for their generous support of our Monteverdi Vespers performance.
Arts Council England
Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust
Henfrey Trust
Sir James Knott Trust
Bond Dickinson LLP
Patrons and Friends of Durham Singers

If you’re interested in helping to support our work, please email Kathryn Crowder friends@durham-singers.org

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