‘A very Durham passion’: St John Passion at Durham Cathedral, in conversation with Pavlo Beznosiuk 

Durham Cathedral Choir and the Avison Ensemble join forces for a performance of Bach’s St John Passion at Durham Cathedral this Sunday, 14 April. We spoke with Pavlo Beznosiuk, leader of the period instrument orchestra for this performance, about the piece and his excitement to perform at Durham Cathedral.

Tickets for this performance are £8-28, available at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whats-on/st-john-passion


What does the St John Passion Oratorio consist of and what is it about the piece that makes it so special?

The St John Passion, just like the more-performed and more-famous St Matthew Passion, were special commissions put together for Good Friday. These are large scale works centering around a narrator, the Evangelist, who sings in a form called ‘recitative’ a kind of sung speech. He tells the story of the passion of Christ quite simply, a narrative punctuated by a sequence of choruses, solo arias and chorales, what we might describe today as hymns. The arias are moments slightly outside the narrative where the events are meditated upon. For example the high tenor aria ‘Erwage’ is a sublime piece of music with silvery-toned muted violins and a viola da gamba, but the text describes how the body of Christ, having just been scourged, is literally a mess of blood and torn flesh. Such arias provide a moment for personal contemplation, against a backdrop of utterly sublime music.

Continue reading ‘A very Durham passion’: St John Passion at Durham Cathedral, in conversation with Pavlo Beznosiuk 
Advertisements

Feasting and Fasting: The Great Kitchen at Durham Cathedral

A new exhibition in Open Treasure, Durham Cathedral’s multi award-winning museum experience, examines the role that food and drink played in the life of the cathedral and its inhabitants through the centuries. Focused on the famous Great Kitchen, the exhibition explores everything from medieval monastic rules on fasting to the kitchen’s present day role as home of the treasures of St Cuthbert as part of Open Treasure.

Continue reading→

Last look at Armistice: Living with the Peace

As Open Treasure’s exhibition Armistice: Living with the Peace approaches the end of its run, we take one last look at the highlights of this fascinating exhibition, which explores the local impact of the end of the First World War. Documents, newspapers and diaries from the Cathedral’s archive capture the moment of Armistice and its aftermath from the Cathedral’s perspective, but the exhibition also contains several fascinating personal items, loaned from the Cathedral community to show how the region celebrated peace and commemorated those lost.

Here are four highlights to give you a taste of the exhibition, which closes at 5pm on Saturday 2 February.

Continue reading Last look at Armistice: Living with the Peace

Thinking of volunteering at Durham Cathedral? Your questions, answered.

Durham Cathedral is cared for by over 750 volunteers in 100 different roles. The dedication and energy of our volunteers supports the buildings and Cathedral community, and makes this such a special place to be.  Their commitment and enthusiasm is extremely important, as they contribute to a more welcoming and inspiring experience for the 750,000 visitors we have every year. Their vital support also helps in fulfilling the purpose, values and activities of the Cathedral.

We’re always looking for more volunteers and there’s so much to us than our core purpose as a church! From bell-ringers and broderers to stewarding and outdoor conservation; from marketing and education to Open Treasure and the Cathedral Library; archaeology to Property, it’s fair to say there’s likely to be a role suited to you and your interests.

Continue reading→

Why is there maintenance work on the Cathedral’s entrances? Creating a ‘wow’ factor with Vanessa Ward

If you’ve visited the Cathedral recently, or are planning on making a visit very soon, you will see white hoardings covering both the inside and outside of the North and South doors. For the last few years, I’ve been working closely with a team of people from across the Cathedral on a project to replace the lobbies on the North and South doors, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It’s all part of the Open Treasure project; we embarked on a mission to open up the treasures of the Cathedral to our visitors, and I don’t just mean artefacts and manuscripts.

Continue reading Why is there maintenance work on the Cathedral’s entrances? Creating a ‘wow’ factor with Vanessa Ward

Shattering Perceptions: Molly Crowfoot’s remarkable replica of the Cuthbert embroideries

The “girdle” of St Cuthbert was deposited by King Athelstan (r. 927-939), first King of the English and grandson of Alfred the Great, while St Cuthbert’s tomb was at Chester-le-Street in 934 AD. It was originally part of ecclesiastical garments that were commissioned by his step-mother Ælfflæd for the Bishop of Winchester. The braid was found loose and is known as “the girdle”, although it may originally have been a maniple. This is a piece of cloth that hangs from the left arm when giving mass. The girdle is an exceptionally fine piece of weaving, created from gold thread and two different colours of scarlet, although that’s hard to make out after more than a thousand years! So how did we find out what we know about it?

Continue reading Shattering Perceptions: Molly Crowfoot’s remarkable replica of the Cuthbert embroideries

The Shrine of St Cuthbert; A living place of worship, welcome and hospitality at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.