A CONDUCTOR is celebrating 20 years with the same choir.

Venera Bojkova, of Spennymoor, started working with the Bishop Auckland Choral Society in 1995.

She is the society’s fourth conductor and leads members for weekly rehearsals in the town hall on Tuesday evenings.

The teacher, originally of Bulgaria, also plays piano and harp and has travelled the world giving workshops throughout Europe, Russia, South Africa, China and USA.

After coming to Britain in 1993, Mrs Bojkova has enjoyed teaching students at Durham and Newcastle Universities as well as the weekend school at the Sage, Gateshead.

She also runs a popular series of piano masterclasses for advanced pianists, teachers and enthusiasts and is an adjudicator for the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival.

As the choral society’s musical director, Mrs Bojkova, works with members to present about four concerts a year ranging from major choral works such as the Mozart Requiem and John Rutter's Magnificat and Gloria, to Christmas carol concerts and a very successful Victorian evening.

Mrs Bojkova said she was first approached by the previous conductor after he spotted her playing piano for tourists at Auckland Castle and was offered the job a year later after attending an interview.

Talking about her long-service, in which she has held hundreds of rehearsals, she said: “It’s amazing, I never sat down to think about the number of rehearsals but it is weeks and weeks that toll into years.

“We have a relationship and it is now cherished and even if I’m tired after a full day of teaching, when I go to rehearsal, I come away completely relaxed, almost like a yoga session – they put wings on my heels and it’s a wonderful feeling because they’re lovely people.”

Mrs Bojkova said she is looking forward to continuing with the society and wanted to thank everyone involved for making it such a success.

She joked: “I did invite them to take down the dictatorship but they turned me down so I will be staying.”

Now, the group want to say thank you and are preparing for a special concert in recognition of her which has been funded entirely by society members.

The society’s concert, entitled Mendelssohn, Elijah, will be held at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, on Saturday, June 27, from 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults or £8 for concessions and are available from the Ms Hassall by calling 01388-834359.