OPERA star Sir Thomas Allen is stepping down as Chancellor of Durham University with a final congregation at Durham Cathedral.
His retirement from Durham University was announced last year and he bids farewell to the University and its students at a series of graduation ceremonies.
Speaking of his time as Chancellor, Sir Thomas said: “From day one, ten years ago, I have tried to find the words to best describe this experience.
University Photos: NORTH NEWS” alt=”Echo of the North: Famous opera singer Sir Thomas Allen who is stepping down as Chancellor of Durham University Photos: NORTH NEWS” class=”editor-image”/>
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“I always try, although I can briefly say that a lot of my career as Chancellor has been a kind of process of further education of the people I have met and the things I have experienced. It has been the greatest honor and privilege, and I will miss the people and the role terribly.
Durham University began holding the first of 34 graduation ceremonies at Durham Cathedral on Monday June 28. They will continue over two weeks until July 7, including for students whose graduation has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Durham University, said: “We look forward to welcoming our students and their loved ones for this very special Congregational Fortnight.
“They have worked hard and we wish them well in the future. We know that as graduates of Durham University they will be highly sought after by employers around the world and we hope they will maintain close ties with us here in Durham.
“It also gives us the opportunity to thank Sir Thomas for his outstanding service to the University as Chancellor over the past ten years. He has been and will continue to be an inspiration to our staff, students and alumni.
Sir Thomas, whose life story is said to have inspired the hit film and musical Billy Elliot, was one of the longest-serving chancellors in Durham University’s history, serving for more than ten year.
Born in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, and educated at Robert Richardson Grammar School in Ryhope, Sir Thomas’ career began with Welsh National Opera, and from there he sang over 50 roles at the Royal Opera House, notably for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee at the Palace Park.
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He has received worldwide acclaim for his many singing roles and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Durham University in 1988. He was awarded the prestigious Queens Medal for Music in 2013 and the Bavarian Government, with the ‘Bavarian State Opera, awarded him the title. by Kammersanger.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and a Fellow of the Royal College of Music.
This year marks the 51st season since its debut at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and the 41st anniversary of its debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
To thank Sir Thomas for his services, the University has dedicated a new, state-of-the-art Steinway Spirio piano in his honor. A farewell dinner is also planned at Durham Castle.
A Sir Thomas Allen Appeal Fund has been established to support the University’s initiative to become an ‘All-Steinway School’, provide music and choir scholarships and provide scholarships to students from all backgrounds and disciplines around the world.
The University will announce its new Chancellor in due course.
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