What we do


Photo of choir singing in Jesmond United Reformed Church, NewcastleWhether you want to listen, to sing or to engage us, Cappella Novocastriensis offers a truly satisfying experience, a top class chamber choir based in Newcastle, in the heart of the northeast.

Cappella – the choir

Cappella Novocastriensis was founded in 1960 by Dr Frederick Hudson to specialise in early choral music for worship. However, that is only part of the story. We sing in concert hall, church and cathedral and give one or more concerts per term, as well as an annual carol service for Newcastle Law Courts and occasional engagements for choral evensong, weddings and other services and events.

The choir has about 30 members and often sings unaccompanied, bringing both clarity and intimacy to its performances.

Since 2012, Cappella has been directed by Simon Lee, who is also a Tenor Lay Clerk at Durham Cathedral and music teacher. Simon follows in the footsteps of Eric Cross, Cappella’s conductor for many years, and has swiftly made his mark with skill and energy.

In recent years we have been building our audience base by giving regular concerts in two well known city church venues (St Ann’s, Battlefield and Jesmond URC).  Other local venues have included St Andrew’s Church, Newgate (our home base and rehearsal space) and King’s Hall at Newcastle University (Early Music Festival, 2015).

Our winter concert each year is often candlelit, with seasonal refreshments, whilst our summer concert is usually outside Newcastle, often in a beautiful rural setting.  In 2017 and 2016 we gave a Midsummer concert in Shincliffe Parish Church and sang Evensong in Ripon and Durham Cathedrals.

Other Northern venues in recent years have included Ushaw College, County Durham, Norham Parish church, Northumberland and St Brandon’s Parish Church, Brancepeth, where we enjoyed candlelit festive celebrations in a joint concert with Durham Cathedral Young Singers. We gave a joint concert with The Rushley Singers in Lancaster Cathedral and sung joint services with them in Durham Cathedral in June 2019.

We offer ticket price concessions for over 65s, students and unwaged, and we promote attendance by young people, with free entry for those under 18. However, we also offer a discounted season ticket, whilst additional benefits are also available through our ‘Friends of Cappella’ scheme – see Support the choir.

Cappella – the music

Since its foundation, the choir has gained a strong reputation for its presentation of early sacred music from the renaissance and baroque periods, a tradition that continues today. Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers has been performed on two occasions in Durham Cathedral and winter concerts have featured early Christmas music from Italy, Germany, England and France.

However, our underlying purpose is to present music and texts that are reflective and inspirational to audiences of all backgrounds. Therefore, we sing both sacred and secular music, including a significant repertoire from later periods, including the present century and new commissions.

Our concerts frequently promote unjustly neglected music, and programmes have ranged through works from the Eton Choirbook to modern composers such as Tavener, Gorecki, Whitacre, Lauridsen and Joubert. A commissioned work, ‘An Hymne of the Nativity’ by composer John Joubert, who was also President of the choir until his death in 2019, was premièred in December 2000.

In November 2014 we marked the centenary of the start of the first world war in a remembrance-tide concert in St Ann’s Church, Newcastle, including Parry’s Songs of Farewell, as well as a choral setting of Lux aeterna to Elgar’s Nimrod variation and works by Morales (with saxophone solo), JS Bach, Tallis, Tavener and others.

Cappella also sometimes performs accompanied by chamber organ or period instruments, including in recent years Newcastle Baroque, the brass ensemble QuintEssential and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble.

Detailed information about past concerts including publicity posters, music repertoire, soloists and programme notes can be viewed online in our Past concerts archive.

The choir has appeared on Tyne Tees Television’s ‘With Voices Raised’ and has also produced two CDs of Christmas music, which have been featured on BBC Radio 3′s ‘The Choir’, and on Classic FM’s ‘The Full Works.’

For CD details and purchase, see CD sales .

Cappella – joining, supporting and engaging the choir

As well as coming to our concerts, you can support us in other ways:
Join the choir — As a singer
Support the choir — As a Friend or Sponsor, or give practical help
Engage the choir — For a wedding, funeral or other special or charity event

To discuss these or make other enquiries, please Contact us.

Cappella – the chamber organ

In 1999, with the aid of the Lottery Fund, the City of Newcastle, the Sir James Knott Trust and individual subscriptions, Cappella commissioned a chamber organ from Neil Richerby of Lammermuir Pipeorgans. This organ, his ‘Opus 35’, has become an invaluable asset to the choir’s performances. To learn more, see Chamber organ.