AN acclaimed composer has joined the campaign to save the world's oldest Methodist chapel still in continuous use by writing a specially-commissioned work celebrating the wonders of Weardale.

A Weardale Rhapsody, a work for violin and piano, by David Jennings, of Barnard Castle, will enjoy its debut in St John’s Chapel Town Hall, on Saturday June 1 at 7pm.

The Northern Echo:

Composer David Jennings

All proceeds from the concert will go towards the fund to purchase High House Chapel, in Ireshopeburn, for the Weardale Museum.

The violinist is Pamela Redman and the pianist Ken Forster.

Mr Jennings began composing aged only 12. After reading music at Durham University with the distinguished composer John Casken, he continued his studies at Manchester University, specialising in composition, and benefitting further from the tuition of Casken and the advice and support of Arthur Butterworth.

His music has been successfully performed by professionals of the highest calibre, including pianist James Willshire and members of Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Mr Jennings' music ranges from piano miniatures to large orchestral works and he has always aimed to achieve the right balance between traditional and contemporary approaches.

He is strongly influenced by poetry and the visual arts, particularly the English watercolours of the early nineteenth century. He became a member of the Lakeland Composers in 2009 and his music regularly appears in concert programmes as well as having been broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

An acclaimed recording of his complete music for piano, performed by James Willshire, was nominated for Recording of the Year 2013 by MusicWeb International and the score is published by Goodmusic Publishing.

Rachel Swaffield, chair of the Friends of High House Chapel said: "Weardale is very fortunate in having attracted David’s support and it is hoped to make a recording of the concert, so that Weardalers and others from further afield can keep it for the future."

The concert will also feature other pieces by Jennings, including his Three Irish Pieces and Passacaglia and Fugue, itself only premiered in March, and a number of other pieces."

The local Methodist Fellowship decided the task of repair and renovation of the chapel was too daunting for them to take on.

Instead they recommended its sale to the museum to develop it into a heritage centre and arts venue, with the option of still providing a flexible worship space in the future.

Mrs Swaffield said: "That has been agreed as district level and regional level. We are now just waiting for the ok on a national level.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for the museum, while maintaining it for its Methodist history."

Tickets £10, under 16's £7. Available from 03000 262626, email (£1.50 charge), Weardale Gazette Office, Stanhope, Cafe Maxine, St John's Chapel on 01388537214, Wolsingham Pharmacy (cash only) or email