Find out more about the 2019 event timings, seating, workshops & leaders


About the Timings

9am - 9.45am: Registration
10am - 1pm: Morning session
1 - 2pm: Lunchtime & Busking in the City
2 - 5pm: Afternoon Session

The day is split into a morning and afternoon session. Both sessions will include two massed singing workshops, several performances from choirs on stage and a short break. We ask all singers to help us ensure that the day runs on time by arriving promptly to their areas. To assist the smooth running of the Busking in the City lunch hour we recommend singers bring along their own packed lunch so that they can eat whilst listening to choirs perform.

Our friendly team of volunteers will be on hand to greet you for registration from 9am. You will be directed to the appropriate registration desk where you'll receive a running order for the day and exchange your ticket for a wristband giving you entry to the event. Doors will open to the auditorium at approximately 9.30am and you'll be asked to take a seat in time for the first session starting at 10am. Our volunteers will be on hand to assist you and we'll be grateful for your patience whilst we register all 500 singers. Please ensure you are at your registration point by 9.30am.

The Singing Elf during registration
Gala Theatre, Durham Big Sing, The Singing Elf
Gala Theatre Auditorium - View from the Circle

About the Seating

Singers will choose their seat in an area of the auditorium relating to their vocal range. Those who usually sing the higher parts (Soprano) or mid parts (Alto) and the lower voices (Tenor & Bass) will sit together in certain areas. If you are a beginner or unsure of what part to sing, our team will be on hand to help. You won't have the same seat all day. You can move around during breaks and move to another vocal section if you don't feel comfortable. If you are attending with a choir you can choose to sit with friends from your vocal section whilst also being able to meet new people. If you are attending as an individual you'll be introduced to other singers in your section on arrival.

Most seats in the auditorium are accessed by several steps but we can reserve seating with flat floor access. You will be asked to state your requirements during booking. During the workshops singers may be asked to stand for short periods. Any singers who wish to remain seated will be asked to take seats at the front or side of their section to ensure their view of the stage when others stand.
Find out more about Accessibility 

About the Workshops

There are two workshops in each half day session, all taking place in the Gala’s main auditorium. The songs will be taught in a mixture of styles, some purely by ear, others with lyrics or sheet music. Our two workshop leaders will teach you a variety of feel-good songs from scratch, exploring several different musical styles. You’ll be able to take home the learning resources so that you can sing them in future.

About the Leaders

Our workshop leaders Sharon Durant & Simon Davies-Fidler are both extremely experienced vocal leaders based in the North East. They’re well-known for working on large-scale projects with hundreds of voices, as well as directing their own choirs. With extensive knowledge of delivering high quality singing sessions that are accessible to all, our leaders are in demand nationally and internationally. Whilst both teach a variety of musical genres, Simon comes from a choral background and Sharon is more heavily influenced by gospel, pop and improvisation. By combining the knowledge and experience of these two nationally recognised experts, Durham Big Sing participants are guaranteed four vibrant and varied workshops. Our leaders will be assisted by professional pianist and musical director, Tim Jasper who will also be available to accompany choirs for their performances if required.

Sharon Durant, Durham Big Sing Workshop Leader, Gala Theatre Durham
Sharon Durant - Workshop Leader

Sharon teaches in schools and works on projects training teachers in the UK and abroad on using singing in the classroom. She's worked with organisations including Sing Up and Musical Futures as well undertaking British Council World Voice projects in Senegal, Siera Leone, Canada and Brazil. As a qualified secondary science teacher, Sharon is particularly interested in songs that support curriculum learning whilst also musically enhancing school life.

Sharon performs as part of Mouthful, a four piece vocal ensemble who push the boundaries of vocal possibility and successfully devise and compose new vocal material.

Sharon Durant

Sharon Durant is a freelance vocal teacher, performer, choir leader and composer. She works with singers of all ages leading workshops, training and singing projects within a wide variety of settings.

Sharon directs, composes and arranges for several community choirs including Customs Voices, Urban Chorus and North East Gospel Choir who will be attending Durham Big Sing. Her song ‘Chinese Proverb’ has been recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock for their children’s album ‘Experience….101’.

For many years, Sharon worked at Sage Gateshead as Vocal Strand leader, delivering a diverse collection of large-scale singing projects. She has also worked with organisations such as Music in Hospital and Care, British Lung Foundation (Singing for Lung Health), Sunderland Music Hub and Concordia.

North East Gospel Choir led by Sharon Durant
North East Gospel Choir led by Sharon Durant

Simon Davies - Fidler

Simon Davies-Fidler is highly acclaimed vocal leader, conductor and choral director. Simon is a passionate advocate of singing for all and has delivered workshops for thousands of singers all over the UK and Europe. Simon is the founder and Music Director of the award-winning chamber choir Voices of Hope who won the National Choir of the Year competition in 2016, singing at Sage Gateshead, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Cardiff Millennium Centre along the way.  In 2017 Voices of Hope went on to compete as finalists in Europe’s choir of the year competition - Let The Peoples Sing in Helsinki.  They will represent the UK in the same competition later in 2019, having been nominated by the BBC who regularly broadcast their recordings on BBC Radio 3.

Simon Davies-Fidler, Durham Big Sing Workshop Leader, Gala Theatre Durham
Simon Davies-Fidler - Workshop Leader
Simon Davies-Fidler, Voices of Hope, Choir of the Year 2016
Voices of Hope led by Simon Davies-Fidler, Choir of the Year 2016

Simon has a vast portfolio of choirs he has directed choirs including the university choirs of Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland as well as the Leeds College of Music Choir. He trains several choirs at Sage Gateshead including Quay Voices, one of the North East’s leading youth choirs which regularly perform alongside Royal Northern Sinfonia and Chorus and last year took part in the BBC Youth Proms Choir. Simon has prepared the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia for performances with Nicolas McGegan, Tolga Kashif and Eamon Dougan.  He is the Director of Music at St James’ and St Basil’s Church in Newcastle, where he conducts J’s & B’s Singers and Fenham Ensemble.  He also leads two community choirs with his wife Gail, in their home village of Wylam.

Simon’s ever popular Come and Sing events have brought world renowned composers and conductors to the North East to lead singing events including John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, Will Todd and Neil Ferris. For over 14 years, Simon has been a workshop leader for Streetwise Opera, an award winning performing arts charity for people who are or have experienced homelessness. He was also one of three British musicians involved in Singing Cities, working throughout Europe in 2014/15 with other conductors, performers and composers on schemes to make singing accessible to all.

Tim Jasper

Tim Jasper is a professional pianist and musical director based in the North East. Tim is an experienced accompanist and works as a pianist at Sage Gateshead where he has previously worked closely with both Simon and Sharon, along with other locations.  Tim was formerly a member of Voices of Hope and in his youth, a member of Sedgefield Lyric Singers. He is passionate about the importance of choirs in our community and looks forward to supporting some of them at Durham Big Sing through accompanying them on the day if they require it.

Tim holds an impressive five ABRSM Grade 8 certificates in piano, cello, trumpet, voice and practical musicianship. He is currently working under the mentoring of Prof. Graeme Danby and Prof. Valerie Reid, both of English National Opera at the University of Cumbria where, among other roles, he leads the male and female a cappella choirs, who recently performed an arrangement of his in Liverpool Cathedral.

Tim has held the role of Musical Director for two professional pantomimes, the latest in 2018 in Manchester. He has also taken this role on many musical theatre productions including Guys and Dolls, Annie, Bad Girls, Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago, The Addams Family, A Chorus Line, Sunday In The Park With George, Thoroughly Modern Millie, RENT, Little Women and more.

Tim Jasper, Pianist , Durham Big Sing, Gala Theatre Durham
Tim Jasper - Pianist

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