DURHAM Cathedral Choir, under the direction of master of choristers Daniel Cook, joined forces with Avison Ensemble for an uplifting account of JS Bach’s St John Passion at Durham Cathedral on Palm Sunday.

The narration of the crucifixion story was conveyed with heartfelt conviction and stamina by Philippe Durrant, in the role of Evangalist, while bass Peter Coulson invested his portrayal of Jesus with warmth and authority.

The choir sang with flair, while soloists stepping forward from the ranks shone, one and all, in their individual arias.

Among their highlights were Lucy Evans’ confident singing of Von den Stricken meiner Sünden, while Patrick Armitage, 12, delivered Ich folge dir gleicihalls with a shining clarity.

Tenor Simon Lee gave an soaring rendition of Ach, mein Sinn and James Draper’s aria Erwage, describing the body of Christ having just been scourged, was profoundly moving.

Special mention goes to alto Joy Sutcliffe who provided a sublime account of Est ist Vollbracht, nursing each phrase and blending wonderfully with the plangent tones of Emily Ashton’s viol da gamba.

Jess Quigley, 13, cut through the mourning to announce the death of Christ, with crystalline singing of Zereflieshe min Herze.

The chorales surged with energy and a sense of momentum, encapsulated in the the bass aria Eilt, ihr angefocht’nen Seelen’, which was punctuated by the choir’s urgent asking Wohin?

The Avison Ensemble’s period instruments, under the leadership of Pavlo Beznosiuk, married perfectly with the singers. Following a tender Ruht wohl, the final chorale was brought to a rousing climax.