THE Durham Singers criss-cross the Atlantic Ocean for their final concert of this season, with a programme that brings together words and music from Ireland, America and from the Atlantic Ocean itself.

The concert The Cloths of Heaven will be presented at St Brandon's Church, Brancepeth, near Durham, at 7.30pm on Saturday, June 24.

The Irish composer Charles Stanford is known to many as a composer of grand church music, and his rich romantic sound can be heard in miniature in his Three Latin Motets. The Durham Singers also turn to a

lighter side of Stanford’s music with an exquisite partsong evoking a hot midsummer day, “The Bluebird”.

The Durham Singers also pay tribute to the wealth of Irish poetry and song, including a sweetly bluesy setting by the British composer Howard Skempton of W.B. Yeats’s famous poem, “He wishes for the cloths

of heaven”, and an arrangement of that favourite folk-song “Danny Boy”. inking the two geographical themes of the concert, “Reincarnations” by the American composer Samuel Barber brings back to life an Irish folk hero and a legendary beauty, told through the words of Raftery, the last of the Irish wandering bards. The final song of the set, “The Coolin”, is a sensuous love-song, reminding the listener of Barber’s most famous piece, the “Adagio for Strings”.

In recent years, the Durham Singers have championed music written by women, and this year the ladies of the choir showcase two settings of E.E.Cummings by the American composer Augusta Read Thomas. The music

explodes with colour, reflecting Cummings’s quirky poems, and the second of the two, “kiss me” is playfully flirtatious.

Themes of love and longing for home are also threaded through the choir’s programme, and everything comes together in the central work of the concert, Benjamin Britten’s choral classic “Hymn to St


The text, by Britten’s friend W.H. Auden celebrates the gift of music, but is also a deeply personal portrait of Britten himself.

The music was written on board ship, as Britten crossed the Atlantic returning home after several lonely, difficult years in America.

Musical director Julian Wright said “This really is one of the great pieces of English choral music.

"There is a lilting quality in the refrain that seems to capture the ebb and flow of the Atlantic waves, and the heart of the piece expresses the complex search for artistic and personal fulfilment. With that sense of longing for home, but also in its physical act of composition, travelling between America and Europe, Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia touches on the themes that draw all our music together in this programme”.

To mark the end of another varied and successful season, the choir invite the audience to join them after the concert for seasonal refreshments.

Tickets £12 (£8 students and under-25s,

and free for under 13s), available from Durham Music Shop, Front

Street, Langley Moor, online from or on the

door. Call 0779 0148062 for more information.