A SELECTION of treasures from The Bowes Museum can be heard in musical form when the Durham Singers present their annual summer concert, including a musical tribute to the museum’s famous silver swan.

The idea for the programme, called Songs for Joséphine in honour of the museum’s founder, Joséphine Bowes, came about when the choir were invited to give a concert earlier this summer in The Bowes Museum itself.

The concert programme, presented at St Brandon's Church, Brancepeth, at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 6, pairs pieces of music with items from the museum, including two contrasting accounts of St Peter’s tears to go with El Greco’s famous painting: a short madrigal by the Flemish Renaissance composer di Lasso and a mini-musical drama by the French baroque composer Charpentier.

For Charpentier’s Le Reniement de Saint Pierre the choir are joined by two outstanding young soloists, tenor James Draper, and bass Patrick Owston who sang with the choir earlier this year as a soloist in their performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. The museum’s two Canaletto paintings of Venice are reflected in music by movement from Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers. Lotti’s much-loved eight-part ‘Crucifixus’ represents the religious art of The Bowes Museum and is also linked to a portrait of Cardinal Ottoboni who supported many Venetan musicians, including Lotti.

The second half of the concert moves forward to the world of Joséphine Bowes herself, with music by French and English romantic composers. Joséphine was not just a great connoisseur of art, but was also an accomplished painter herself and a number of her paintings hang in the museum. Her atmospheric landscapes match the gentle eventide themes of songs by Saint-Saëns and Gonoud, and a deeply romantic winter lovesong, Walking in the Snow by Howells recalls Joséphine’s happy marriage to her English husband John Bowes.

Jane Shuttleworth, marketing manager for the Durham Singers said: ‘it’s been a real treat to get to know some of the paintings from The Bowes Museum through the music in this programme and to find out more about Joséphine Bowes, who was clearly an extraordinary woman. It was a privilege for us to sing this programme in The Bowes Museum itself, surrounded by Joséphine’s legacy.

"We’re also grateful to The Bowes Museum for helping us to produce a picture gallery for the concert programme booklet, so that those coming to hear us at Brancepeth will be able see the artworks that we’re singing about’.

John and Joséphine Bowes built The Bowes Museum as a gift to the people of County Durham, so that they could share their art with local people.

The concert closes with a majestic Victorian anthem, Ascribe unto the Lord by S.S. Wesley, a piece that in its scope reflects the ambition and vision behind The Bowes Museum. The grand organ part for this piece gives the choir their final opportunity to enjoy the talents of their Assistsant Musical Director Francesca Massey before she leaves the region to take up a new post as Director of Music at Rochester Cathedral.

The evening will finish with strawberries and wine, included in the ticket price for the concert.

The Durham Singers: Songs for Joséphine

Saturday July 6, 7.30pm St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth.

Tickets £12, (£10 students and under25s, children 13 and under free) available from www.durham-singers.org, or in person from Durham Music Shop, High Street, Langley Moor. For queries or to reserve tickets on the door contact the choir on 0779 0148062 or info@durham-singers.org.