22 April 2024

Salisbury Cathedral’s 2023 Organ Prom – Regal, Relaxed and Returning

Salisbury Cathedral’s Organ Prom programme is as regal as it is relaxed this year, with music from coronations across the centuries rubbing shoulders with popular classics.

Audience members are invited to dress to impress for the Coronation Year celebrations on Saturday, 12 August, with promenading positively encouraged and Pimm’s (along with other refreshments) available for purchase.

The music selection is eclectic and, at times, surprising. From Dan Coates’ arrangement of the James Bond Medley, a nod to the Queen’s 007 stunts for the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, to Iain Farrington’s jazzy Voices of the World, written for the Coronation of King Charles III, the vibe is unashamedly entertaining and comfortably familiar, without compromising on artistry.

Those fascinated by the action in the organ loft will get a bench-side view of the organists in performance on the Cathedral’s Big Screen.

John Challenger, Assistant Director of Music, said: “When I was putting together the programme for this year’s Prom I chose pieces that would showcase the versatility of our organ, which is an ‘orchestra’ in itself, and encourage an easy listening atmosphere.

“We do lots of concerts that require the audience to stay in their seats and focus. This is a little different; people will know many of these tunes and should feel free to promenade as they did in the pleasure gardens of London in the nineteenth century.”

John Challenger and David Halls, Director of Music at the Cathedral, are sharing the organ duties for the evening.


In the organ loft – Prom performer John Challenger, Assistant Director of Music – photo by Finnbarr Webster

Music on the agenda includes Purcell’s Trumpet Tune (played at Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953), Bach’s Air in D, Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, The Planets (played at the Queen’s Coronation Service and at this year’s Coronation), James Bond Medley – arr. Dan Coates (used for the Queen’s sketch with Daniel Craig at the opening of 2012 Olympics), Rimsky-Korsakov’s electrifying Flight of the Bumble Bee, The Entertainer by Scott Joplin and, for the undeniably romantic and nostalgic, Sherwin’s A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

Also on the menu, are Debbie Wiseman’s Elizabeth Remembered (released to mark the Queen’s death and used in the BBC’s coverage of the subsequent events broadcast to celebrate her life), Widor’s Toccata (Symphony V) (played at numerous royal weddings, including Princess Margaret’s and Prince William’s wedding) and Simply the best, a tribute to Tina Turner, who died just over two months ago. An evocative line-up.

Tickets for Salisbury Cathedral’s Organ Prom on Saturday, 12th August, are £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s. Doors open at 6.15 pm for a 19.00 start.

Drinks will be on sale at the West End, with a takeaway Organ Prom CD available for purchase from the ticket desk.

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns