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But Vera is confident, following the successful collaboration between Bishopwearmouth, Ryton and the Young Singers at Sage last year, that the concert will prove to be spectacular. "It sets chapters 26 and 17 of the Gospel of St Matthew to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music," she said.

The event, to be held at Sunderland Minster from 7pm, marks the conclusion of months of hard work and rehearsals. Tickets are now on sale at 12, with concessions of 8 and 6.

l Bishopwearmouth Choral Society took part in a choir competition in the Albert Hall, London, in 1974.

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l Present conductor David Murray has appeared at recitals around the world as an accompanist for David Haslam, Thomas Allen, Ian Partridge and Alison Pearce.

"The last time all three groups sang together was at the Sage in Gateshead, and people seemed to love it. We received a really good response," said member Vera Vincent.

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l The Bishopwearmouth Young Singers rehearse each Friday at Ewesley Road Methodist Church, under Omega Seamaster Deville Price

l Dame Janet Baker, a Yorkshire born mezzo soprano best known as an opera, concert and lieder singer, has performed as guest soloist three times with Bishopwearmouth.

By 1956 Bishopwearmouth was performing two concerts a year with orchestral accompaniment Omega Speedmaster Moonphase Price

The sweet tones of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society Omega Seamaster Blue Hands have been heard at 150 plus concerts over the past 65 years as well as at several events for charitable purposes.

Choir facts

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and by 1960 its 80 members were regulars at the Sunderland Empire Theatre too.

"The nucleus of the choir was to be the men of the Parish Church Choir and the Senior Girls Choir of Bede Girls' Grammar School, where Mr Hartley was music master.

Bishopwearmouth Choral Society will join forces with Ryton Choral Society and Bishopwearmouth Young Singers for a performance of Bach: St Matthew Passion this Saturday.

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From little acorns grew a mighty oak. Indeed, within five years of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society's birth, its major singing rival Sunderland Choral Society had become defunct.

Soloists Isobel Baillie then a leading figure in the musical establishment as well as Cyril Lackey and Radley Cooper all captured the imagination, and hearts, of visitors young and old.

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"It is also known that some music was hired, and the overall expense was around 75. But, as there was a balance of 26 in June, it can be assumed the concert was well attended."

"The name of Bishopwearmouth Choral Society was agreed, despite no Omega Seamaster Professional Leather

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l Seaham born opera star Sir Thomas Allen sang with Bishopwearmouth Choir as a young man. He has since returned to perform as a guest soloist on several occasions.

"These were to be augmented by other singers, subject to approval, and it was also suggested that The Creation by Haydn be performed at the first concert in March 1949."

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"The total cost of the concert is not known, but the fees for soloists amounted to 57 guineas, of which the greater part was paid to Isobel Baillie. Other costs included advertising.

"Admission to the concert was by programme, which cost three shillings each. That was not a cheap night out as good class cinema seats at the time were half the price," said Norman.

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Wearsiders were still struggling to rebuild their town and lives following the Second World War when the idea for a new choral society was suggested by members of Bishopwearmouth Church. Richardson and choir master Clifford Hartley called an informal meeting to discuss the plan on November 18, 1948 and the idea was green lighted in December.

"Mr Hartley, who'd been chairman and conductor of the Society since its inception, retired from conducting in 1974. His final performance was Bach's B Minor Mass," said Norman.

And, since 1993, the dedicated members have sung under the baton of David Murray a highly experienced and professional musician well known throughout the North East.

"We will be hoping to repeat that success on Saturday, and it should be an uplifting evening. We are very fortunate to have such talented people, from our directors to our singers."

direct link to the church, as Sunderland Choral Society already existed," said society archivist Norman Duncan.

´╗┐Concert marks 65 years of Sunderland choir

"Since then, the Society has continued to flourish. Its membership, which is auditioned, though occasionally variable, has remained relatively stable at 80 singers."

This Saturday's performance of St Matthew Passion, written by Johann Sebastian Bach, will present an extra challenge for the singers as it to be performed in its original German.

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the direction of Eileen Brown. New members welcome.

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