Audience member, The Royal Opera House at The Bowes Museum, concert featuring Jette Parker soloists, 2009
I knew it was such a privilege to hear those two voices. Pumeza will obviously go on to a glittering career and I will be able to say I saw her first in my home town.
The work will be a contemporary response to the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice in 1942 in which all menfolk of the village were killed, the women transported to concentration camps and most of the children gassed.
News of the atrocity spread rapidly. Funds for re-building the village quickly began to be raised during WW2, by English miners in Durham, Staffordshire and Cumbria and subsequently, by mining communities around the world.
The piece will explore cultural and personal guilt and forgiveness, embodied in the living relationships between the characters and intertwining the dynamics of past and present to reveal the enduring power of reconciliation in resolving today's international conflicts.
IO has received enthusiastic expressions of support and interest from Chichester Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, the Prague-based Platform of European Memory and Conscience, the Centre for International Cultural Exchange (Germany) and the Bremen Reconciliation Institute.
The new work will have a suggested scoring for a chamber group of instrumentalists making the work easily adaptable to a wide variety of spaces and will embrace participatory opportunities for all age ranges.
The solo voices will reflect the main protagonists, with smaller roles taken from a semi - chorus of experienced singers. The main chorus will be written for singers of all ages and abilities from the community who represent groups from Germany, the Czech Republic and Durham.
We are delighted to have received a first phase development grant from Arts Council England that has enabled an exciting new short commission from Julian Philips and Stephen Plaice. This will première as part of the Heart of Durham concert at Ushaw College on 13 October.