The Durham Singers was founded in 1972 by the late Richard Addison, who established exacting standards, and also set the pattern for the choir's broad repertoire. He was succeeded on his retirement in 1984 by Alan Oyston, who continued that tradition with great success over a period of 22 years. Alan himself retired from the post at the end of 2006: the third Music Director, appointed in February 2007, is Julian Wright.
They have often collaborated with other ensembles in the North East. They have joined the Northern Sinfonia Chorus for performances of the St Matthew Passion and the Verdi Requiem; they have also frequently performed with the Durham Sinfonia. In May 1997 they were invited to join the northern premiere of Will Todd's The Burning Road, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Jarrow March. They have recorded two CDs, one in their 25th jubilee year; Gloria, a CD of Christmas music, was issued five years later.
Under their new director, they have performed Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor (to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Ushaw College ), a concert of ceremonial music by Handel and Purcell, and new music by Paul Spicer, as well as expanding their repertoire of lighter music. They are planning performances of Bach's St John Passion and of Brahms' Requiem in the version with piano duet.
Julian Wright was born and brought up in Oxford , but he has Northumbrian forebears and his family have been making music in the North East for several generations. He is a Lecturer in history at Durham University , and writes on French political history. Julian was a founding member of the National Youth Chamber Choir, and later sang professionally at Christ Church , Oxford , New College , Oxford , and the Chapel Royal, St James' Palace. His solo singing has encompassed roles such as Figaro and Gugliemo as well as a wide lieder repertory. As an experienced singer, Julian has high aspirations for developing the all-round musicianship of the Durham Singers. He is keen to take on new challenges, expanding the choir's repertory, especially in the Renaissance, romantic and twentieth-century periods. He is seeking out new collaborations with composers and visiting conductors.