Category Archives: Events

‘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 
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Team Durham Cathedral are getting ready to race!

Twelve members of Team Durham Cathedral are hard at work training for the third annual Durham City Run on 18 July. The team of staff from the Cathedral and Durham’s Barclays Branch and local supporters are running in support of Foundation 2020. All the funds raised will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of the Cathedral; it is especially appropriate then that the race should start and end outside Durham’s most iconic landmark! Continue reading Team Durham Cathedral are getting ready to race!

Opening Doors, Opening Minds: Learning and Outreach

Open Treasure is not only transforming the physical spaces inside Durham Cathedral. It is also transforming the way we engage with visitors of all ages, both on-site and off-site, through a dynamic learning and outreach programme.

As Head of Education, I lead a team responsible for co-ordinating the learning and outreach programme. We already engage with almost 20,000 school children each year and during term-time we welcome up to 15 school visits per week. Tours and hands-on activities are designed to encourage children to interpret the meaning of this wonderful building and its collections.

Open Treasure is an opportunity to increase our engagement with schools. In the autumn we will be launching Cathedral Explorers, a new afterschool club for children aged 7-11, as well as Treasure Boxes, resource boxes for schools which include replica artefacts, source materials and lesson plans. Treasure Stories will also be developed, with special outreach sessions inspired by the Cathedral’s collections which will be delivered in local schools and colleges.

In addition to our work with schools and colleges, we continue to develop new ways of engaging with families and young visitors to Durham Cathedral with an exciting programme of family events, activities and self-guided trails.

Drawing upon the Cathedral’s history and heritage, a new monastic herb garden is being developed. Special events throughout the summer will enable families and visitors of all ages to get a real taste of life in a medieval monastery.

Young Curators, an exciting new group for young people aged 11-16, has also been launched. Young Curators will have unique opportunities to explore the new exhibition areas of Durham Cathedral. They’ll learn how to handle and display objects, interpret the collections and help develop a new children’s book about the collections.

Free taster days throughout the summer have been organised for young people who are interested in Young Curators. From September 2015, the group will meet on the second Saturday morning of every month, in the Education Centre, from 10.30am – 12.30pm.

In August we are holding a Magna Carta Medieval Weekend where everyone can meet medieval townsfolk and craftspeople as they take up residence within the Cathedral grounds.  There will be demonstrations of pastimes and skills that filled their daily life and you can even try your hand at skills such as rope making, candle dipping, butter churning and striking your own coin.  It promises to be a fun filled, fantastic occasion.

With so much going on, my role is a challenging one and the Education Team has expanded in recent months to cope with demand.  We now employ three Learning Officers, one Learning and Outreach Officer and an Education Assistant and the Team is supported by a dedicated team of over 35 Education Volunteers.  As the project develops we will be launching new initiatives for adult learners.  Watch this space!

With the invaluable input from all of the Education Team we have successfully shaped a vibrant learning and outreach programme, enabling visitors of all ages to enjoy and engage with this incredible building.

Charlotte Rowbotham, Head of Education, Durham Cathedral

See www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/learning for information about sessions for schools.

See www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whatson for information about public family events.

Transforming the Future of Durham Cathedral

Our exciting development project Open Treasure is transforming spaces inside the Cathedral as well as the way in which the Cathedral engages with visitors and the local communities. As part of our successful Heritage Lottery Fund application, we submitted a detailed activity plan; a programme of outreach and engagement, learning, and a series of public events and exhibitions. As Project Co-ordinator, I am working with many departments across the organisation to deliver this activity plan.

Co-ordinating such an ambitious project is no easy task! The physical transformation of spaces off the Claustral buildings, led by the Cathedral’s Property Team, is due to be completed in 2016. Ahead of this we are already working on the outreach and engagement programme and each department has an important part to play. With so many people involved, my role is both challenging and highly rewarding!

I started at the Cathedral three months ago, and progress has been made with projects that will create opportunities for local communities to get involved with Open Treasure.  An oral history project will offer people the chance to record their memories of Durham whilst Recreating the Community is providing local artists and local communities with the opportunity to produce unique artwork inspired by the Anglo-Saxon Treasures of St Cuthbert.  We have already held artists workshops in collaboration with Durham Creatives and can’t wait to get this project off the ground.  Other projects include reading groups for book-worms to a Young Curators project for ambitious young people with an interest in history and heritage.

With so many projects to co-ordinate, we’ve certainly got a lot of hard work ahead of us but it’s great to be part of such an ambitious project and you can be part of it too!  As Open Treasure develops, there will be many opportunities to get involved, so keep up-to-date at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk  You can also follow Durham Cathedral on Facebook and Twitter. Watch this space!

Claire Hyde

Open Treasure Project Co-ordinator (Activities)