Music at Durham Cathedral
“Music is the very soul of a great church”, as Hector Berlioz said. Here at Durham Cathedral, music is at the heart of our daily worship. Music has been offered in worship since Biblical times; this offering is vitally important, for it can not illustrate words but transcend them; it can inspire, excite, soothe, and heal; it can unite people of different backgrounds and nationalities, it can speak to people of all faiths and of none, and it can point the way to God.
The Cathedral Choir sings eight services per week. It has twenty girl and twenty boy Choristers and twelve men, continuing a centuries-old English tradition — indeed the choir can trace its roots back through many centuries. Concerts, recordings and broadcasts have broadened its reputation far afield, but its raison d'être remains the daily singing of choral services here in the Cathedral.
Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers, founded in 1997, is a mixed-voice choir of twenty-four volunteers. It sings less frequently than the Cathedral Choir; it too has recorded and broadcast, but again its focus is the enhancement of the regular Cathedral worship.
The Palatinate Ensemble is a group of string players which was founded in order to accompany occasional Cathedral services. It also gives regular concerts in and around Durham on its own account.
The organ was built by Henry Willis in 1877, and rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison Ltd of Durham in 1905, 1935 and 1970. Its completeness, voicing and surroundings make it one of the finest organs in Britain. It has six divisions, four manuals and pedal, 98 speaking stops — and 5,746 pipes.