A world-famous orchestra will kick off the Durham Vocal Festival with a powerful performance of Handel’s Messiah.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will open the festival – along with the Durham Choral Society – in Durham Cathedral on Saturday 26th January at 7.30 pm.

Messiah – with its famous hallelujah chorus – is one of Handel’s best known and most popular works. Handel composed the piece in 1741.

The performance in Durham Cathedral will feature a series of impressive solo arias courtesy of soprano Rowan Pierce, alto Helen Charlston, tenor Nicholas Pritchard and bass Dingle Yandell. The performance will be conducted by Steven Devine.

The Durham Vocal Festival will feature a wide range of events involving professional musicians, local schoolchildren, community choirs, specially composed works, world premieres and much more.

On Friday 8th February, Durham Cathedral will host the word premiere of The Life of St Cuthbert, composed by Solfa Carlile. The festival will also see performances by audience favourites Northern Lights and Northern Spirit Singers.

A new feature in this year’s festival will be the Office Choir of the Year contest.

Another highlight will be a performance from the professional group VOCES8. They will perform alongside hundreds of local singers to deliver a specially composed piece, Dunelm Lux Aeterna, which was written by Paul Smith in collaboration with five local schools.

OAE-publicity shot
Members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Olwyn Gunn, said, “I can’t wait for the opening of this year’s festival.”

“The performance of this seminal work with such world-class performers will be an event not to be missed.”

“We’re thrilled to be involved with so many fantastic singers and musicians and are particularly delighted to be hosting the world-famous Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for the opening night.”

“Durham Vocal Festival is now in its third year and has grown to become an important event in Durham’s cultural calendar, with this year’s promising to be the best yet.”

“The city is developing a real reputation as a key destination for music makers and music lovers alike and we’re proud that our vocal festival is playing a full part in that.”

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s education director, Cherry Forbes, said, “We are delighted to be returning to Durham for the 2018 Vocal Festival, and to be performing Handel’s masterpiece Messiah in the cathedral with the Durham Choral Society is a treat indeed.”

You can purchase tickets for all Durham Vocal Festival events by going to www.durhamvocalfestival.co.uk or telephoning the box office of the Gala Theatre on 03000 266 600.

(The featured image shows the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment performing at a previous Durham Vocal Festival.)

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