Archive for December, 2023

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas

On the 9th of December, the Choral Society began it’s 75th Anniversary season with a concert celebrating A Joyous Christmas. We have been performing in Sunderland Minster since 1948 when Clifford Hartley, the then choirmaster and organist at the Minster, formed the nucleus of the choir from the men of the Parish Church Choir and the Senior Girls Choir of the Bede Girls Grammar School, Sunderland, where Mr Hartley was Music Master – and we have been going strong ever since. This, we think, makes us the longest continually active choir in the North East.

So how did we celebrate A Joyous Christmas – by combining with two very promising young soloists, a versatile violinist and a choir from Hillview Junior Academy.

Anna Dias, a soprano based in the North East, delighted everyone with two arias by Mozart and Handel. Nick Stoner contributed his fine baritone performing two Christmas pieces by Peter Cornelius. Martin Hughes, the leader of the string quintet, demonstrated his solo skills playing The Lark Ascending to complement the other two pieces of music by Vaughan Williams (Serenade to Music, & Fantasia on Christmas Carols) that the choir performed. The choir were also in fine voice with pieces by Rutter, Chilcott, Edward Watson and Lucy Walker. Lucy was a piano pupil of David Murray for some 11 years showing amazing ability but is now becoming known for her compositional skills, which provided two of the Christmas themed pieces. Finally, it was the turn of the Hillview Junior Academy choir who entranced the audience with two of their favourite carols (Away in a Manger & Merry Christmas Everyone) by Shakin’ Stephens plus Oh Ebenezer and a Carol Sequence from A Christmas Carol by David Murray. All of this was conducted by David Murray, our Musical Director, and accompanied by Eileen Bown. Everyone went home knowing that there was much more to Christmas that the hustle and bustle.