Preparations for Lindisfarne Gospel's 1,000 voice concert gather pace
MARK THE RETURN: A copy of the Lindisfarne Gospels displayed during a previous event in Durham Castle
On June 30, 1,000 voices will echo across the seven hills of Durham to herald the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Lizzie Anderson discovers how plans for the long-awaited concert are shaping up.
DR Keith Barlett, programme director of Lindisfarne Gospels Durham, is a busy man. With just over a month until the Lindisfarne Gospels Exhibition opens to the public in Durham City, there is a lot to do.
High on his list of priorities is the eagerly anticipated concert by the Lindisfarne Gospel Community Choir to celebrate the grand opening on Sunday, June 30.
The concert, on Palace Green, will bring together 1,000 singers of all ages and abilities, with established adult, youth and school choirs performing alongside people who have never sung in public before.
It is an ambitious concept but Dr Barlett, together with choir leader Mish Kelly, is pulling out all the stops to ensure it is a major success.
And, at 2pm on Sunday, the public can get a sneak preview of the big gig when the choir perform a free concert at Durham Cathedral.
Dr Barlett said the performance would demonstrate how far the choir has come, as well as give members much-needed experience of singing in public.
“We are feeling extremely confident,” he said. “The choir has gone from strength to strength and lots of new friendships have been formed along the way.
“What I admire most about it is the fact there are singers with little or no experience and standing side-by-side with established choristers.
“The results sound fantastic.”
Created in Lindisfarne in the eighth century, the Lindisfarne Gospels tell the story of St Cuthbert and will take pride of place in the exhibition at Palace Green Library.
And what better way to mark the return of the priceless manuscript to the North-East than the sound of 1,000 voices ringing out across the city?
Ms Kelly and Dr Barlett certainly think so and it seems the public agrees, with hundreds of individuals attending Ms Kelly’s regular rehearsals in Durham City and new choirs signing up all the time.
As the big day draws closer, extra choir rehearsals are being introduced and members will be invited to attend a master class led by Durham University’s chancellor and world renowned baritone Sir Thomas Allen.
For more information about the Lindisfarne Gospel Community Choir or to book tickets for the exhibition visit lindisfarnegospels.com