THE Durham Singers are preparing to end the festive season in style with a performance in Durham Cathedral of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

The performance on Saturday, January 5, is a joyful musical retelling of the familiar story, complete with angels, shepherds, and the Three Kings.

Although to many of us it feels as if Christmas ends on 2 January when we all return to work, the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas run until the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, when the church marks the arrival of the Three Kings.

Bach created his Christmas Oratorio in six sections, to be performed at church services from Christmas to Epiphany, and together they make up a brightly coloured Christmas album which will be brought to life by the singers and by their professional period instrument orchestra, The Durham Singers Ensemble.

A solo soprano is the voice of Mary, singing a lullaby; soft baroque oboes and flutes play a lilting pastoral dance to evoke the shepherds watching their flocks by night before the angels appear in glory with a virtuosic tenor aria and a lively chorus.

Throughout the piece, Bach makes liberal use of trumpets to add a truly festive mood, and of course to announce the arrival of the Three Kings.

The Durham Singers will continue their long term collaboration with Samling Institute for Young Artists, which supports classical singers at the start of their careers through its internationally-renowned Samling Artist Programme for emerging professional stars and Samling Academy which selects from the very best singers aged 14-21 who live or study in the North East.

Timothy Langston, currently a member of the Royal Opera House chorus, and a Samling Artist, sings the role of Evangelist and the exciting tenor arias, with members of Samling Academy taking the other solo parts.

Among them will be Zoë Jackson who is no stranger to Durham Cathedral, having been one of the first girl choristers in the cathedral choir, and a former head chorister.

Karon Wright, artistic and executive director of Samling said working with the Durham Singers benefitted Samling Artists and Samling Academy participants.

She said: “Opportunities like these – where our Academy Singers can sing alongside one of our professional Samling Artists and with a fabulous choir and professional chamber orchestra – are incredibly valuable.

“They prove to be enriching for all involved.

“This upcoming performance with Durham Singers is a great way to reaffirm and celebrate our ongoing commitment to young classical singers, both regionally and nationally, and our partnerships and collaborations with a like-minded musical organisation in the area.”

The Durham Singers’ commitment to supporting music in the North East has also been recognised by the Arts Council, who have awarded the choir a National Lottery Project Grant to support this performance.

  • JS Bach, Christmas Oratorio: Saturday January 5 2019, 7pm, Durham Cathedral.
  • Tickets £10-£20 available online at or from Durham Music Shop, High Street, Langley Moor.
  • For any inquiries contact the choir on 0779 0148062.