Southern Cathedrals Festival goes online

THE Southern Cathedral Festivals, hosted this year by Winchester Cathedral, will be online for the first time in its 70 year history.

After a turbulent 15 months, which has seen choral singing brought to an abrupt halt across the country, the annual festival takes place on 16th and 17th July, and will include a live-streamed 40-minute concert, presented by Aled Jones.

Founded in 1905, the Southern Cathedrals Festival has traditionally brought the choirs of Winchester, Salisbury and Chichester under one roof to perform sacred choral and organ music together. This year, the long-standing tradition has been adapted for a COVID age, which will allow people around the world to enjoy a concert of music by Palestrina, Bruckner, Bairstow, Balfour Gardiner, Hadley and a contemporary piece by Joseph Twist, How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.

In another innovative move, a series of short films will be released in the run up to the festival, showing individual stories of the last year in each of the three cathedrals. The films will look at the decline of music during lockdown, the effect this has had on members of the choirs and the hope of a full return, with an exclusive look at the life of contemporary choristers.

There will be two in-person services at Winchester Cathedral on Saturday 17th July – an 11am Festival Eucharist and a 3.30pm Evensong – both of which will be live-streamed.

The Dean of Salisbury, the Very Rev Nicholas Papadopulos, says: “It has been a long, hard year for all musicians: a year that has tested their faith, adaptability, and resilience; and a year in which they have found new ways to work together to share the joy of music. This festival is a fitting tribute to their skill, their teamwork, and their passion for the glory of music”.

The festival has a special place in the artistic life of the south of England, and now more than ever, the friendship and unity between the three cathedrals should be celebrated.

The online concert will premiere at 7pm on 16th July and will be available to watch on the Winchester Cathedral website, YouTube channel and Facebook page. For more information, please visit the Southern Cathedrals Festival website

Pictured: Winchester Cathedral Choir (in red) and Salisbury choristers.