About us

Cleveland Philharmonic Choir...

  • is an auditioned mixed-voice choir which aspires to professional standards and has a good reputation in north-east England.

  • is fortunate in having John Forsyth MBE as Music Director – a source of non-stop energy, inspiration and fun. 

  • is proud to have as its Honorary President Sir Thomas Allen CBE, the distinguished baritone.

  • has over 100 members, currently aged from 17 upwards, from Middlesbrough, Stockton, East Cleveland, Hartlepool, Darlington and North Yorkshire.

  • gives at least four concerts a year, often using professional soloists and a good orchestra.

  • stages concerts throughout the Tees Valley region and beyond.

  • has weekly term-time rehearsals supported by several Choral Training days each year.

  • involves children and young people in its performances.

  • has sung music spanning five centuries of composition, including a world première and a joint commission; it is not afraid of a challenge.

  • has a mailing list of over 300 and is supported by a ‘Friends of the Choir’ organisation.

  • gives a warm welcome and lots of help to new members.

Cleveland Philharmonic Choir performing at Sage, Gateshead

Cleveland Philharmonic Choir (CPC) was founded in 1968 by Edwin Raymond for a performance of Haydn’s Creation with Sir Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the second Teesside Eisteddfod. During the thirty-one years of his leadership, Edwin directed the choir with great musical enthusiasm and distinction through an impressive range of the choral repertoire.

From 1999 when John Forsyth became Music Director, the choir has presented a wide range of works, from Renaissance music with period instruments to challenging 20th-century pieces, and from those well known and loved to those rarely heard. Distinguished soloists have included Sir Thomas Allen, Honorary President of the choir (Brahms’ German Requiem), Alan Opie (Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast) and Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts (Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius). A later highlight celebrated the arrival in Hartlepool of the Tall Ships Race. This featured two singers who had represented their countries in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World – Anna Stéphany and Dawid Kimberg – and included Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony in its centenary year.

November 2014 saw the choir's début at Sage Gateshead with Northern Spirit, Quay Lads and Lasses, and Sir Thomas Allen as soloist in Belshazzar's Feast. Sir Thomas also selected the soloists for a semi-staged Carmina Burana. The evening was pronounced a 'fabulous occasion' with 'notoriously challenging works' 'stunningly performed'.

The choir, this time with members of Egglescliffe School Senior Choir, returned to the Sage two years later to sing Verdi’s Requiem, earning plaudits such as ‘a superb choir in great form’ and ‘an amazing concert’. John Forsyth’s 70th birthday was celebrated by choir and orchestra in April 2017 with a concert of music chosen by him – Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Rutter – in the Princess Alexandra Auditorium in Yarm.

In November 2018, Newcastle Choral Society and Northern Spirit Singers, together with our own young choir and choristers from Durham Cathedral and St Peter’s Church, Stockton, joined CPC to mark the centenary of the World War I Armistice with a performance of Britten’s War Requiem at Sage Gateshead – undoubtedly the most challenging project the choir has undertaken. Eminent soloists Mark Padmore, Roderick Williams and Rachel Nicholls contributed to a performance that the audience found ‘stunning’ and ‘most moving’.

In March 2020, the pandemic halted live rehearsals and performances. Zoom rehearsals and virtual concerts led by Assistant Music Director Isaac Conroy helped to keep the choir singing and in touch with one another.

In September 2021 the choir eventually gathered together to sing, albeit with many safety precautions. A long-postponed concert took place in November 2021, conducted by Thomas Neal, who grew up locally and now runs his own choirs.

April 2022 saw the choir’s debut at Durham Cathedral, singing Bruckner motets and his E-minor mass. In February 2023, again at Sage Gateshead, the choir joined with Durham University Choral Society to sing Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. The two choirs, both now having John Forsyth as their Music Director, produced a glorious sound in a well-received performance.

The choir has developed an informal summer concert of short items linked by a theme and, during the festive season, a Family Christmas Carol Concert.  Members have also sung at weddings and have been invited to sing at events arranged by other organisations.

CPC enjoys giving performance opportunities to outstanding young local musicians and conductors and has arranged masterclasses with eminent soloists for vocal studies students.

Brought to you by Making Music
Copyright © 2024 Cleveland Philharmonic Choir