A new year and new songs for the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir

The Northern Echo: Members of the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir rehearse on the steps of Durham Castle in 2012 Members of the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir rehearse on the steps of Durham Castle in 2012

With its first public performance under its belt, there was a sense of solidarity when the Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir reunited for its first official rehearsal of the year. Lizzie Anderson reports

NOTHING brings people together quite like a shared experience and, for members of the Lindisfarne Gospel Community Choir, our debut performance at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham, last month did just that.

As I walked to the Chorister School, near Durham Cathedral, for our January rehearsal, I was looking forward to catching up with the other members and picking up where we had left off.

The choir was set up last summer as part of preparations for the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North-East.

With The Northern Echo’s backing, a campaign was launched to recruit 1,000 singers of all ages and abilities for a concert on Palace Green in Durham City next July.

The concert will coincide with an exhibition on the priceless medieval manuscript, which was created in Lindisfarne, Northumberland, during the Eighth Century in honour of St Cuthbert.

Hundreds of individuals and many existing choirs have signed up and, over the last five months, an ever growing group has attended rehearsals led by Mish Kelly, director of musical outreach at Durham Cathedral.

On this occasion, Ms Kelly staggered our start times to allow her to focus on the altos, bases and tenors, whose parts can be difficult as they do not carry the tune.

The sopranos, including myself, joined in an hour later and it was lovely to see so many new faces.

Having spent most of Christmas with a sore throat, I was a little out of practice and I struggled to hit the high notes at first.

However, I eventually warmed up and it was great fun learning the new material. This included the beautiful Wayfaring Strange and a fun but challenging piece called Winged Ox, which stretched our sight reading skills to the limit.

After this we sang a lovely song called Give Me a Clean Heart, which proved welcome relief.

“Can I just say Mish, I thoroughly enjoyed that,” said one enthusiastic alto.

“It felt like when you are at school on a Friday afternoon and you got to bring your toys in.”

The next rehearsal will take place at the Chorister School from 2pm on Saturday, February 9.

For information about joining the choir call 03000-261948.

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