AN ACCLAIMED German orchestra has visited the region for a week of performances at venues in Darlington and Sunderland.

The famous Mülheimer Zupforchester (MZO) is one of Germany’s leading plucked orchestras.

Founded in 1980 it encompasses a variety of stringed instruments and regularly excels in national and international festivals and competitions, continuously winning prizes on the national stage.

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The Orchestra played three concerts during their weeklong stay in Darlington, the first of which was on Tuesday at Carmel College.

Following this, they entertained at Sunderland University North Shore with the final concert being held in Central Hall at Darlington’s Dolphin Centre on Thursday, April 2.

Tom Nutt, Chair of Darlington Town Twinning and International Association, said: “Darlington has been twinned with Mulheim since 1953.

“Our history and present is the same. We have the same issues to tackle.”

The Mulheim region of Germany has the same industrial background as the North-East of England, with neighbouring Essen being twinned with Sunderland, suffering the same economic struggles.

The MZO’s first performance of ‘the Magic Mandolin’ narrated by Christian Oesterwind, and accompanied by the orchestra under their conductor Dominik Hackner, was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience at Carmel College.

“People were saying how brilliant it was,” Mr Nutt said.

“We are not about making money, we are here to get people involved and give young people opportunities to travel and meet others from different cultures.”

Their trip was funded by the Goethe Institute and the German Foreign Office.