In 1946 Conrad Eden, the Cathedral organist, formed a choral society which at its peak had 112 members.
By the mid 50s this had dropped to such a low number that it was decided to disband the group. From 1958 to 1962 the only society of its sort was the Durham Colleges Choral Society which was, naturally, gown rather than town.
In 1962, Maurice Armsby, a Cathedral lay clerk, found that there was a strong desire to re-form a choral society, so, after a public meeting in June, the decision was taken to go ahead and rehearsals began in September for the first concert which was given in the Cathedral on 30 November 1962.
1974A new director
The new choir did not have an untroubled beginning. Initial enthusiasm produced a membership of 70 but again numbers began to drop slightly. After three years the conductor moved to Winchester Cathedral. His successor only directed three performances before he too left Durham. In 1966, Raymond Hall, Principal of the Bernard Gilpin Society and a local organist took over as musical director. In 1970 the performing venue moved from Elvet Methodist Church to Wearside School. Numbers dropped to about 40 and audience figures decreased, possibly due to the uncompromising hardness of school chairs! This trend was reversed when the concert venue was transferred to the Town Hall in 1974.
After 13 years Raymond Hall decided to retire and Richard Brice, who had been assistant conductor for a few years, took over. Under his direction membership began to increase and numbers grew until the only suitable venue was the Cathedral. On several occasions the choir has joined with other local choirs to give performances of works that neither group would have had sufficient numbers to tackle alone, including Verdi’s Requiem and Britten’s War Requiem. The Society has been well served by its orchestra of mostly local musicians, ably led over the years by (among others) Florence Wilson, Derek Downes, Jean Provine, and Sue Innes.
Our concerts are now under the direction of Michael Summers, who took over as Musical Director in September 2012, and the orchestra is now led by Julia Boulton