Over the weekend of 5 and 6 November 2022, I found myself mostly in the organ loft of Durham Cathedral.  This was the second cathedral visit undertaken by Quorum, which is a choir from Milton Keynes that I periodically accompany.

Durham Cathedral

These cathedral visits happen usually twice a year and it’s something I have been doing now for around 15 years, the very first visit being to Salisbury Cathedral back in approximately 2008.

About the Choir – Quorum

Quorum is a small, high quality, chamber choir based in Milton Keynes. We specialise in Renaissance and Contemporary sacred choral music and are well known for innovative and imaginative programming. The choir has an outstanding reputation for singing challenging, unaccompanied repertoire, to the highest standard.

The choir is flexible, able to provide suitable music for a wide range of church services and other events, such as music festivals. Each year Quorum sings weekend services at major cathedrals around the country. We are available to sing at weddings in the Milton Keynes/North Bucks area.

The group is considered ‘quorate’ when there are enough people present to cover each part, hence the name Quorum. 

The choir is based at St Mary Magdalene Church, Willen in Milton Keynes where each year we sing several Evensong services and an annual carol service. Quorum has a long tradition of singing Evensong services at local churches in the local area.

Along with my partner Anne-Marie, we were in Durham for a couple of days from Evensong on Saturday 5 November through to Evensong on Sunday 6 November 2022.   One distinct advantage of working with Quorum is that for the most part everything they sing is unaccompanied. So the brief for the organist is relatively simple.  All one needs to do is accompany a few hymns and play a voluntary after the service.

Deciding on which voluntaries to play is always a challenge as the choice is almost endless.   I always try to pick a mix of music in the hope that at least someone likes something at some point!

This visit was no exception and I bought a mix of German, French and English music to the three services, specifically:

JS Bach – Fantasia in C Minor
Boellmann – Toccata
Frank Bridge – Adagio in E

To be totally honest, I also picked relatively easy music as I have been extremely busy with my other hat on playing for weddings with Anne-Marie as part JAM Duo and so had almost no time to get any practice in on an organ beforehand. And when I say almost no time, I actually mean no time at all as I have recently stopped playing the organ for services in Bath.  But that’s a whole other story which I may go into on another post.

Anyway, suffice to say we had a very jolly time in Durham.  Quorum are a fantastic choir and I am hoping to do more Cathedral visits in 2023 although there is now a danger of our wedding business limiting the amount of available time I have going forward.  Watch this space for further updates. The next Quorum Cathedral visit I believe is to St Albans in July 2023.

I shall leave you with a short clip of the hymn ‘Tell Out My Soul’ sneakily recorded from the organ loft during Sunday’s Evensong.

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