Bishopwearmouth Choral Society warming up for Christmas concert ahead of 75th anniversary

They have been performing in the city for more than 70 years and Bishopwearmouth Choral Society is warming up to spread some festive cheer once more this Christmas.

The longest continually running choral society in the region, the group of more than 50 singers will be performing a concert of Christmas classics at Sunderland Minster on Saturday, December 10.

David Murray conducts the Night Before Christmas concert, which features favourites by Holst, Todd, Chilcott and Rutter, with soprano Anna Dias.

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"It’s going to be a lovely Christmas mix, with some really traditional Christmas songs,” said Mike Foster, chairperson of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society.

Some of the members of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society rehearsing for the Christmas concert with chairperson Mike Foster, centre.
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Next year, the society will celebrate its 75th anniversary and as part of the milestone year they’ll be moving to a new home at Sunderland’s Fire Station.

Although many choral societies lost members who didn’t return post-pandemic, Mike says Bishopwearmouth is still very well attended.

"New members are always welcome,” he said.

The concert takes place at Sunderland Minster

“We have a real mixture of people; some who are very competent music readers and some who can’t, but it’s amazing how quickly you can learn a score.

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“We’ll be continuing to do some concerts in the Minster, but we’re hoping we can attract a wider audience at the Fire Station and to also be more part of the cultural spring in the city.

"We’ve already met with staff members to have a look around and were very welcomed, it’s a fantastic venue.”

Bishopwearmouth Choral Society performs three concerts a year and is always open to new members.

The society has more than 50 members
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The group rehearses on Wednesday evenings at Sunderland Minster from 7.30 - 9.30pm and anyone interested in joining can just turn up.

The history of the society dates back to the November 18, 1948, when an informal meeting was held to discuss the formation of a choral society to present major choral works in Sunderland.

The prime movers were the Rector of Bishopwearmouth Church, Rev. J.F. Richardson, and Clifford Hartley, the choirmaster and organist of the church.

The nucleus of the choir were to be the men of the Parish Church Choir and the Senior Girls Choir of the Bede Girls Grammar School, where Mr Hartley was Music Master

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*A Night Before Christmas takes place from 7.30pm on Saturday, December 10, at Sunderland Minster. Tickets are £14 and £8 (students and waged benefits) for seats in the nave, £8 for the gallery. Accompanied under 16s go free. Tickets are available from society members, on the door or in advance from