DURHAM University Choral Society (DUCS) has secured the services of John Forsyth MBE, an esteemed conductor from the North-East.

DUCS is one of the oldest and largest musical ensembles at Durham University.

Student singers have been performing together as DUCS for nearly 70 years. Though the Covid-19 pandemic halted its activities, DUCS is now regrouping under Mr Forsyth’s guidance.

Born in Washington in 1947, Mr Forsyth has spent his life steeped in the musical culture of the region.

Encouraged by his parents, he began studying the violin and classical guitar, before moving to singing and conducting.

He created the Tees Valley Youth Choir, which was runner-up in the BBC’s Choir of the Year contest in 2006.

Later, he formed the North East Youth Chorale which in 2011 sang Elijah at the BBC Proms.

In 2018, Mr Forsyth conducted Britten’s War Requiem at The Sage Gateshead, in joint effort involving his choir, the Cleveland Philharmonic Choir and Newcastle University Choral Society.

In 2011, he was made an MBE for his outstanding contributions to music and music education. He lives with his wife Audrey in North Yorkshire.

Speaking about his new role with DUCS, he said: “I’m delighted to be embarking on a new adventure with Durham University Choral Society and excited to be working with young adult voices.

"Alongside many others, DUCS suffered from the pandemic and must be rebuilt after months of inactivity.

"In order to do so we will need to reaffirm our commitment to the choral repertoire, work hard, practise, study, develop our skills and above all enjoy working as a team, for that glorious moment when we all perform together in a shared experience – a seriously exciting prospect.”

Katya Davisson, President of DUCS, said: “This is a huge investment for the future of DUCS and will being choral singing back to the heart of music-making at Durham University.

"We’ve been so lucky from the start of the year, and now have an almost 100-strong choir of fantastically committed, driven and talented singers working towards what I’m sure will be a really stunning concert in December.

“John’s rehearsal style makes sure that every single DUCS member takes something away from every rehearsal, whether that be a deeper understanding of the music of their own vocal ability.

"Rehearsals are punctuated by often hilarious anecdotes of his extensive musical experience, which demonstrate such insight into the music.

"We are thoroughly looking forward to the next few years under John’s assured baton, often substituted for a pencil, and hope that our audience enjoys watching our first concert as much as we have enjoyed preparing for it.”

You can enjoy DUCS on: Monday, November 29 at Durham Intercollegiate Christian Union Carol Service, Durham Cathedral; Saturday, December 4: Christmas carols at Hotel Indigo, Durham; Sunday, December5 : Christmas carols at the Durham Christmas Market; Wednesday, December 8: a full DUCS concert at Elvet Methodist Church, Durham.

For full details on the Durham University Choral Society concerts, please visit: www.facebook.com/DUChoralSociety.

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