A Magnificent Programme for Magna Carta

by Gerry Lynch last modified 30 Jan, 2015 10:30 AM

World class lectures , theatre performances, music and spirituality at Cathedral for Magna Carta's 800th anniversary

A new permanent exhibition to house Salisbury’s renowned 1215 Magna Carta, world class lectures, theatre performances, music, interactive art works and the opportunity for spiritual reflection are all on the agenda as Salisbury Cathedral reveals its plans for this year’s Magna Carta 800 celebrations.

Offering an exciting, immersive experience to visitors, the new Magna Carta exhibition, open to the public on Saturday 7 March, is designed to set the Charter in its historical context, telling the story of King John and his barons, as well as exploring the past and present day relevance of this extraordinary document, using digital media displays, artefacts, interactive stations and video.

David Coulthard, the Cathedral’s Director of Communications, says, “When we talk to our visitors about what draws them to Salisbury Cathedral, the Magna Carta is always a very significant element, along with our extraordinary building, so it is fitting that we are playing such a major role in the celebrations and creating a permanent legacy in the form of this thought provoking and engaging exhibition.”

In a rich programme of events that will span the next eight months, the Cathedral will seek to explore different aspects of the Magna Carta, the politics and conflict behind its creation and its relevance to today.

One spiritual highlight will be the pilgrimage from Old Sarum to the Cathedral Close on the afternoon of Sunday 14 June; this follows the route Magna Carta itself took when the Cathedral moved to its current site in the 13th Century. The pilgrimage will conclude with a special service and a Liber-tea on the Cathedral Green.

World class lecturers such as Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General for England and Wales and Professor A.E. Dick Howard of the University of Virginia will be speaking at the Cathedral as part of a series of Salisbury Cathedral Magna Carta lectures, starting on the evening of March 6th.

Bad King John will get his moment too, in a performance of Shakespeare’s King John taking place in the Cathedral during the Salisbury International Arts Festival in May - and in June Squidsoup, a team of international artists specialising in digital and interactive experiences, will be creating a walk-through installation in the North Porch.

Enlightenment is an immersive work inspired by the impact of the Magna Carta and will have a companion piece in the Morning Chapel, The Power of Words, which allows the viewer to play an active role in the creative work, manipulating projected words taken from the Magna Carta text.

As well as the visual arts, there will music and concerts to enjoy. British born Tarik O’Regan, dubbed ‘one of the leading composers’ of his generation’ by Gramaphone Magazine, is premiering a new work in the Cathedral on June 13 as part of our Magna Carta Gala Concert. New York based O’Regan has won two British composer awards and been nominated for two Grammies. He recently premiered his first opera Heart of Darkness in the Royal Opera House.

September’s crowning glory will be Magna Flora, a magnificent floral display created by over 500 flower arrangers from across the South of England. Magna Flora is masterminded by NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies) national demonstrators Angela Turner, Pam Lewis, and Michael Bowyer MBE, Creative Director of Flowers at Salisbury Cathedral. The festival takes place over five days from Sept 15 and promises to be a potent blend of spectacular contemporary, traditional and interpretative arrangements including a special Harvest Festival display.

Magna Carta 800 2015 promises to be an extraordinary year for the Cathedral and the city of Salisbury, rated seventh best city to visit by Lonely Planet, and one we hope will leave a lasting impression on visitors and locals alike. A full timeline of events is available below and further details can be obtained at http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/magna-carta/800th-anniversary-celebrations-2015)

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