Archive for June, 2014

Striking Quality …………

The following review of the concert on Saturday 21st June 2014 was prepared by Keith Nixon for publication in the Sunderland Echo.

“An enthusiastic and appreciative audience sacrificed the chance to watch World Cup goals on TV to attend the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society’s summer concert. They were richly rewarded with a performance of striking quality.

The society’s charismatic director, David Murray, chose a programme of music from four different centuries. The concert began with Haydn’s ‘Joke’ string quartet, delightfully played by the Edinburgh Quartet. Murray then showed off his dazzling pianistic skills in accompanying Vaughan Williams’ ‘Songs of Travel’. This was beautifully sung by Luke Williams – ‘Bright is the Ring of Words’ was particularly moving.

So far the BCS had had a pretty easy time of it but all that was to change dramatically! ‘Who Are These Angels?’ by James MacMillan was sensational. Approachable without being apologetic, MacMillan’s work can both delight and challenge. The piece contained wonderful surprises, like the string quartet’s seagull effects at the end. The choir responded to the challenge magnificently with the basses in especially good form. More MacMillan in the future, please!

The second half was devoted to Purcell’s operatic masterpiece, ‘Dido and Aeneas’. Murray, directing from the harpsichord, allowed soloists and players the freedom to really express themselves. Sally Burchell was magnificent as Dido, the betrayed Queen of Carthage. Her lament was achingly moving and proved to be the crowning climax of a powerful performance.

Elen Lloyd Roberts as Belinda was the perfect foil to Burchell’s Dido while Sarah Ryan was the sexiest Sorceress I have ever seen. Luke Williams as Aeneas was in fine voice, every inch the hapless lover torn between war and his queen. The choir clearly loved every minute of it. ‘Harm’s our delight and mischief all our skill’ was malevolence personified and the boozy sailors of Act III would not have looked (and sounded) out of place in the Museum Vaults.

The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society continues to go from strength to strength and, under David Murray’s direction, has once again proved to be the amateur choir with professional standards.”

Keith Nixon

Need a Dido & Aeneas Poster ?

If you would like additional posters or postcards for the Dido and Aeneas concert, please use the links below to find a pdf file :

Dido & Aeneas Poster     Dido & Aeneas Postcard





The Spirit of Christmas – Dec. 6th 2014


A Saturday evening concert, starting at 7.30 p.m, in Sunderland Minster, conducted by David Murray, in association with Bishopwearmouth Young Singers.

Tickets £15.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on  income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free.  Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website.

Our Christmas concert features Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Part 1 (the Christmas section) and ‘A Christmas Carol’ – music by David Murray and libretto by Tony Rudham – a seasonal musical for children Scrooge 2and adult choir.

It was devised by David and his friend Tony for primary school children, back in the 1970s. More recently David has added parts that involve an adult choir and so this piece will be a combined concert by the main Society with Bishopwearmouth Young Singers.

The Christmas section of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ will need no introduction and will complete a performance for all tastes.



Combined Concert at the Sage – June 14th 2015

Hall One at The Sage, Gateshead

Sunday June 14th 2015 at 7.30. p.m.

Verdi comes to the North East….

Orchestra North East

Bishopwearmouth Choral Society

Ryton Choral Society

Soloists: Claire Rutter (Soprano), Deborah Humble (Mezzo-soprano), James Edwards (Tenor), Michael Druiett (Bass).

Conductor: David Murray.

A Concert of music by Giuseppe Verdi:

  • Overture: The Force of Destiny.
  • Messa da Requiem.

Verdi Poster as jpegLeading North East musicians are to bring Giuseppe Verdi’s spectacular and dramatic Messa da Requiem to Hall One. The operatic style of the Requiem has always both excited and moved audiences, and the overture has that same vivid and emotional style. Orchestra North East, the two choral societies and David Murray each have a strong reputation for giving first-rate performances in their concerts and as many will remember, their acclaimed performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2013 in Hall One was one of the highlights of that summer season. Now the same forces, joined by a team of rising young singers, re-unite to give what they intend to be an equally memorable performance of Verdi’s choral masterpiece.

Tickets: Adults £18; Students (16+) £8; under 16 £4 but FREE with paying Adult.

From Sage Box Office: 0191 443 4661


This will replace the originally planned BCS concert on June 20th 2015.

Coffee Morning – May 9th 2015

A Saturday morning event in Fulwell Methodist Church from 10.00 a.m. till 12 m.d.

Why not join the Society in a social event which comes with a raffle and stalls, while enjoying the tea/coffee, scones and a chat.

Music for a Summer Evening – July 3rd 2015

Bishopwearmouth Young Singers invite you to ‘Music for a Summer Evening’ on Friday 3rd July 2015 at 7.30 p.m. in Ewesley Road Methodist Church, Chester Road, Sunderland.

No ticket required but donations would be gratefully received.

An Evening with Elgar – March 28th 2015


A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray featuring Sarah Pring (Mezzo-Soprano) and three pieces by Edward Elgar :

The Music Makers

Sea Pictures

From the Bavarian Highlands

Tickets £14.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website.

Sarah Pring (Mezzo-Soprano) studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio. She began her career at Glyndebourne, gaining the Sir John Christie Award and the ESSO Touring Award and went on to other roles with the Glyndebourne Tour. Following appearances at the Royal Opera House, she has performed in Japan and extensively for English National Opera. Concert engagements have taken her to the Netherlands as well as across this country with broadcasts on BBC 2. Her recent and current engagements include Mrs Grose The Turn of the Screw for Nevill Holt Opera and Northern Ireland Opera, Mrs Alexander Satyagraha for English National Opera, Marthe Faust at the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, Nurse Boris Godunov and further performances as Annina La traviata for the Royal Opera, London, La Frugola Il tabarro and Zita Gianni Schicchi for Opera Holland Park, and Waltraute Die Walküre for Welsh National Opera. She also covers Mary The Gospel According to the Other Mary for English National Opera, the Kostelnicka Jenufa for Opera North, Mère Marie Dialogues des Carmelites for the Royal Opera, London, and Eduige Guillaume Tell for the Royal Opera, London, and Welsh National Opera.


The Music Makers, Op. 69, is a work for contralto or mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra composed by Edward Elgar. It was dedicated to “my friend Nicholas Kilburn“. It was first performed at the Birmingham Festival on 1 October 1912, conducted by the composer, with Muriel Foster as the soloist.

ElgarThe text of the work is the 1874 poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, which Elgar set in its entirety. He had been working on the music intermittently since 1903, without a specific commission.

The words of the poem no doubt appealed to Elgar’s nature, as it celebrates the dreaming artist — by 1912, he was established as part of British artistic society, but was ambivalent at best about that society. The mood of the Ode is clear in the first lines, which depict the isolation of the creative artist:

We are the music makers,
 And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
 And sitting by desolate streams…

Later verses celebrate the importance of the artist to his society.

The music is for the most part reserved and personal, and Elgar quotes his own music several times. Sometimes there is a specific verbal cue: for example, the word “dreams” is accompanied by a theme from The Dream of Gerontius, and “sea-breakers” by the opening of Sea Pictures.  The music also quotes the first and second symphonies, the Violin Concerto, “Nimrod” (from the Enigma Variations), Rule, Britannia and La Marseillaise.



Music for a Summer Evening – a free concert by Bishopwearmouth Young Singers – July 2nd 2014

A Wednesday evening performance in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m.

Bishopwearmouth Young Singers, plus invited young guest musicians, are offering this concert to delight you. Entry is free – but any donations would be gratefully received. There will be a raffle and wine and nibbles afterwards to complete the evening.

We look forward to seeing you there.