Sublime music, sublime setting

A SUMMER of sublime music begins at Salisbury Cathedral with the Southern Cathedrals Festival, from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July, with music by Vaughan Williams, César Franck, Haydn and Bach.

A concert by organist, composer and TV presenter Anna Lapwood follows on Saturday 23rd July and in August, the popular Organ Prom returns, performed by the Cathedral’s home team of organists, director of music David Halls, assistant director of music John Challenger and assistant organist Samuel Bristow.

The Southern Cathedrals Festival will feature a performance of Haydn’s Creation on Saturday 16th July, sung by the combined choirs of Salisbury, Winchester and Chichester cathedrals, accompanied by the Hanover Band, one of Britain’s most distinguished professional period instrument orchestras

Named for the Hanoverian period of English history in which English music flourished, the Hanover Band boasts some of the UK’s top period instrument specialists. They will be joined by soloists are Rebecca Hardwick (soprano), Ruairi Bowen (tenor) and Jake Muffett (bass).

Haydn’s 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.

This year’s 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 15th July Vaughan Williams’ rarely heard song cycle The House of Life will be performed during a concert of chamber music at 11.30 in the 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 Evensong on 15th July, 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.

Other highlights include Late Night Bach on Friday 15th at 9pm, and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor sung by the girls and adult singers of the three cathedrals during the 10.30am Eucharist on Saturday 16th July. The newly installed Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Stephen Lake Bishop of Salisbury will preach at the service.

One of Europe’s leading lute players, Salisbury based Elizabeth Kenny will give a recital at 2.30pm in St Thomas’ Church, Salisbury on Saturday 16th. The programme will include arrangements of the Bach violin sonatas for the lute.

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

Salisbury Cathedral Organ Festival continues with monthly concerts throughout the summer, including on Saturday 23rd July by organist and composer Anna Lapwood, director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

A regular on Radios 3 and 4, Anna has presented BBC Young Musician and made her BBC Proms debut as soloist last year, playing with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder. Anna was also behind this year’s Bach-a-thon in aid of the Ukraine, which brought together (virtually and in person) 70 organists across the world including Salisbury cathedral, playing the complete organ works of Bach in 24 hours.

The Organ Prom on Saturday 13th August, part of Salisbury Cathedral’s 2022 Organ Festival, includes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Gershwin’s classic Summertime, a Star Wars medley by John Williams and Sherwin’s A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. Concert goers are invited to enter into the spirit of the occasion by dressing ‘promenade style and supping a glass or two of Pimm’s while basking in the sounds of the Father Willis organ. All the action from the organ loft is being relayed onto the Cathedral’s new and even bigger screen.

For more information on all the summer music events, visit salisburycathedral.org.uk

Pictured: Southern Cathedrals Festival, photographs by Ash Mills. Anna Lapwood at Leeds Town Hall, photograph by Tom Arber. Organ festival organiser John Challenger, assistant director of music at Salisbury Cathedral, and the restored Father Willis organ, photographs by Ash Mills.