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Southern Cathedrals Festival – three choirs return in force

by Michael Ford last modified 01 Jun, 2022 06:48 PM

The combined forces of Salisbury, Winchester and Chichester Cathedral choirs will come together for the Southern Cathedrals Festival this July, presenting a real feast of music in the majestic setting of Salisbury Cathedral.

The Southern Cathedrals Festival offers sacred choral and organ music performed to the very highest standard by the three cathedrals' renowned choirs. The choirs will be performing separately and together and will be complemented by visiting performers. The music is presented in concerts and within worship. Joyfully returning to public performances, this year’s three-day-long celebration of choral, organ and chamber music is hosted by Salisbury Cathedral. The 2022 festival marks two important musical anniversaries in concerts and services – César Franck’s birth in 1822 and Vaughan William’s birth fifty years later in 1872.

On Friday 15 July Vaughan Williams’ rarely heard song cycle The House of Life will be performed during a concert of chamber music taking place at 11.30 in the Cathedral’s North Transept. Also on the programme are Wolf’s Italian Serenade and Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet Op57. Sam Poppleton sings baritone with George White, a former chorister on viola, Daphne Moody and Rosie Tompsett on violin, Bryony Moody on cello and Festival Director David Halls on piano.

At 16.30 Evensong later that day, the boys and men of Salisbury and Chichester Cathedral Choirs join together to sing the Vaughan Williams’ anthem, Valiant for Truth, inspired by John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Franck’s important contribution to the romantic organ repertoire is also remembered in pre- and post-service music. Franck was the organist of the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris and together with his friend and collaborator, the organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll, revived the fortunes of organ music in France following the French Revolution.

Late Night Bach has become a regular feature of Southern Cathedral Festivals held in Salisbury. It returns this year on Friday at 21.00 with performances by soloists David Halls and Alistair Watson on the Cathedral’s fine Blüthner grand piano.

New Zealand born Alistair Watson, a Lay Vicar (adult singer) in Salisbury Cathedral Choir, is an award-winning pianist who has performed with the Dunedin Sinfonia and the Christchurch

Symphony Orchestra. He spent two years studying piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, followed by repetiteur training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

David Halls is Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral and an award-winning organist and composer.

On Saturday 16 July the girls and adult singers from all three cathedral choirs - Salisbury, Chichester and Winchester, perform Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor during the Festival Eucharist at 10.30. The newly installed Bishop of Salisbury will preach at the service.

Other concerts on 16 July include a performance by one of Europe’s leading lute players, Salisbury based Elizabeth Kenny at 14.30 in St Thomas’ Church, Salisbury. Elizabeth, who is Director of Performance at the University of Oxford and professor of Lute at the Royal Academy of Music, performs a programme that includes arrangements of the Bach violin sonatas for the lute.

In the evening the period orchestra, the Hanover Band, named for the Hanoverian period of English history in which English music flourished, will accompany all of the cathedral choirs in a performance of Haydn’s Creation, with soloists Rebecca Hardwick (soprano), Ruairi Bowen (tenor) and Jake Muffett (bass). The Creation received its first Salisbury performance in 1800 as part of the then Salisbury Music Festival and has since become one of the most loved oratorios for audiences and performers alike.

The Southern Cathedrals Festival ends on Sunday 17 July with services sung by the full Cathedral Choir (adults, boys and girls) in Salisbury.

The 10.30 Eucharist features Mozart’s Coronation Mass, a nod to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Ave verum corpus.

Choral Evensong at 15.00 on the same day features Stanford in C, Parry’s Blest pair of Sirens and Howells’ Te Deum (Collegium Regale).

The choirs of Winchester and Chichester will sing both services on the Sunday at their own cathedrals.

Tickets for the festival, which runs from 15 July 2022 – 17 July 2022 at Salisbury Cathedral, can be purchased via the Cathedral website from Monday 23 May: and via the Southern Cathedrals Festival website:

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