By Oscar Elmon
Durham University Gospel Choir (DUGC) has placed 2nd in the University Gospel Choir of the Year competition.
After progressing through the first two rounds of the national competition, DUGC were invited to perform at the grand final on 6th April, at Trinity Baptist Church in Croydon.
The high-profile judging panel was comprised of Karen Gibson, who led her Kingdom Choir at the Royal Wedding, Emmanuel Smith, semi-finalist of the Voice UK 2019, Music Director Ayo Oyerinde, who has worked with the likes of Jessie J, and Nic Vani of the Lion King cast.
The judges commented on the connection and spirit conveyed throughout the performance
The choir’s repertoire ranged from Midnight Crew’s Igwe to an acapella, multilingual version of Richard Smallwood’s gospel anthem, Total Praise, which appealed to the theme of this year’s competition, taken from Mark 16:15, to “go throughout the whole world and preach the Gospel.”
The judges commented on the connection and spirit conveyed throughout the performance, noting that the choir showed how much fun they were having in the process.
The Right Honourable David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham and former Minister for Higher Education, stated of the competition: “I fully support the success of UGCY and the sense of musical excellence it encourages across all universities.
It is initiatives such as this that expose how successful University can be at exposing young people’s amazing talents
Finola Southgate, Co-Musical Director of DUGC, said of the choir’s success: “It’s a testament to the importance of putting yourself out there and trying new things. This year as a choir we’ve put in the effort and it paid off.
“It brings such enthusiasm and joy to know that our choir, which rehearses in a classroom, has performed in front of some of Gospel music’s most important figures
“Having worked with the choir for the whole year, knowing how much effort and commitment each individual person has given, it felt like the recognition we all deserved.”
The choir, made up of around 40 regular singers, has gone from strength to strength since its establishment in 2011, having performed at the Christian Union Carol concert in Durham Cathedral, the Durham Christmas Market, and many college balls.
I’ve seen the choir go from strength to strength in my third year at university, and I can’t wait to see how it will grow in my final year
Megan Gerrard, also Co-Musical Director of DUGC reflected on the experience: “The choir has been inspirational, challenging and heart-warming. Knowing so many different people from very different backgrounds has been eye-opening and I’m so blessed to call all these people my friends.
“I’ve seen the choir go from strength to strength in my third year at university, and I can’t wait to see how it will grow in my final year.”
Photograph: Durham University Gospel Choir