Archive for March, 2023

A Mass for troubled times

Whilst the audience arrived for our concert on Saturday 18th March weighed down by the many troubles going on in the world, by the time the concert finished they left uplifted.

When Haydn wrote his Nelson Mass in 1798 his world was similarly in turmoil but on Saturday we could enjoy a splendid concert which brought together the power of choral singing and individual virtuosity.

Bishopwearmouth Choral Society provided the first part of the concert singing Haydn’s ‘Te Deum’ and his ‘Nelson Mass’, very ably supported by a professional orchestra and soloists, all directed by David Murray. This was very well received by the audience and has since been described as wonderful, splendid and breathtaking as some members of the audience had simply not personally experienced a full choir and orchestra in action. The concert was an excellent example of what Bishopwearmouth Choral Society has been providing to the good people of Sunderland for the last 74 years.

The second half of the concert was an opportunity to savor the individual virtuosity of Bradley Creswick playing Beethoven’s ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra’. With excellent support from the orchestra, Bradley created an atmosphere of musical interest and calm which was very warmly recognised by the audience at the end. An excellent evening by and for everyone.

‘A Joyous Christmas’ – December 9th 2023

A Saturday evening concert, in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

This concert will be the first in our 75th Anniversary season and will feature Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Serenade to Music, both by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with special guests and a range of musical surprises.

Soloist – Anna Dias

Tickets – £15.00 for Nave (£8.00 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or Gallery (limited view) £8.00. Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets will be 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.

Doors open from 6.45 p.m. Apart from seats marked for Patrons, there are no allocated seats.

March 16th 2024

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

Edward Elgar’s ‘The Music Makers‘ and ‘Sea Pictures’ with Hubert Parry’s ‘I was glad‘ and ‘Blest Pair of Sirens‘.

Break in rehearsals

There will no rehearsals on the following dates :

Wednesday 22nd March

Wednesday 29th March

Wednesday 5th April

Wednesday 12th April

Hope that you enjoy Easter and look forward to seeing everyone on our return on Wednesday 19th April 2023. It would be very helpful if you arrive a little early on the 19th to enable scores for the new work to be distributed.

June 15th 2024

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

Content to be confirmed.

Future Programme Proposals

This would normally outline the proposed programme of concerts for the coming years but, as you will understand, all of our planning has been disrupted by the pandemic. We are only just being able to plan the details of concerts and will update details as soon as possible. All dates are 7.30 p.m. on Saturdays in Sunderland Minster, unless otherwise noted.

December 9th 2023 – This concert will be the first in our 75th Anniversary Season and will feature Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Serenade to Music, both by Ralph Vaughan Williams, together with a selection of Christmas music.

March 16th 2024 – Edward Elgar’s ‘The Music Makers‘ and ‘Sea Pictures’ with Hubert Parry’s ‘I was glad‘ and ‘Blest Pair of Sirens‘.

June 15th 2024 – Arrangements by David Murray, our Musical Director, of more modern artistes such as the Carpenters.

Future Programme Proposals


The following is the proposed programme of concerts over the coming years. Actual content may be subject to change or additions and all concerts will be advertised as individual items in due course. All dates are 7.30 p.m. on Saturdays in Sunderland Minster unless otherwise noted.

April 4th 2020

St. John Passion – Bach.

June 20th 2020

Requiem – Brahms

December 5th 2020

Messiah – Handel.

March 27th 2021

Petite Messe Solennelle – Rossini.

June 19th 2021

Requiem & Cantique de Jean Racine – Faure, Panis Angelicus – Franck.

December 4th 2021

Content to be confirmed.

June 25th 2023 – An Evening at the theatre with Stephen Sondheim

In a new venture for the Society, a Sunday evening concert in The Fire Station, starting at 7.30 p.m. and under the direction of David Murray.

Tickets £20.00, with online ticketing via the Fire Station website or at their box office, which is open Wednesdays to Saturdays – phone lines 2 pm to 6 pm, counter 4 pm to 6 pm. Ticket Office will also be open for in person sales when there is a performance from 6 pm.

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Music by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Mary Rogers, Richard Rogers & Jule Styne


Laurie Ashworth, Sally Johnson, Nick Hurndall Smith, & Terence Ayebare

Pianists – Eileen Bown and David Murray

This concert is a revue showcasing the music and lyrics of the undoubted giant of American Musical Theatre, Stephen Sondheim. It celebrates the large body of work he had produced from the outset of his career, when he was a lyricist for Jule Styne’s show ‘Gypsy’, and more famously Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’.

He had also had a whole raft of shows in his own name – some of them are remembered – for example ‘A Little Night Music’, ‘Follies’, ‘A Funny thing happened on the way to the forum’ and ‘Company’. Some of them are not, but the songs live on in their own right as little masterpieces.

Astonishingly this revue, created in the mid 1970’s, was written before the emergence of his greatest works, in the form of ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Into the Woods’, so we’ve added more material to bring things up to date, and we’ve also rewritten the libretto which connects all the songs together.

So why wasn’t his rise to the top of musical theatre more meteoric? Its easy to look back in hindsight and say this, but its clear now that his words were often too clever, too subtle, for the audiences steeped in a tradition of Rogers and Hammerstein etc, and his subjects were so often based around his own very cynical view of the success of human relationships. So people didn’t fall in love and live happily ever after.  His treatment of this dim view of humankind can be both incredibly funny and incredibly sad as the context of the song changes within the drama.

The songs you hear will make you laugh and make you cry – they are about life. They are often provocative, racy, slightly outrageous. And to return to why his success wasn’t immediate, the shows were simply playing in the wrong theatres to the wrong audiences. Its no surprise that now much of his work finds itself in opera houses where the complexity of his music can be taken on board more easily not only by opera companies but also by their audiences.

The ‘cast’ consists of four singers,(who also introduce the songs and put them in their context) as well as delivering some very funny anecdotes) two pianists, and  Bishopwearmouth Choral Society .

Come, sit back and enjoy.