After a two-year delay due to the pandemic, Salisbury Cathedral’s Organ Festival is finally going ahead for 2022 with tickets on sale today.
The Organ Prom, which sold out in 2018, returns in full glory with Pimms and popular classics.
Seven evening concerts will showcase the famous Father Willis organ, given by some of the country’s best-known organists and cathedral musicians, alongside a Sunday Organ Music series and a transcription for organ of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
Originally planned to celebrate the return of Father Willis after a year-long programme of restoration and to mark the 800th Anniversary of the laying of the Cathedral’s first foundation stone, the festival launches on the 30th April with a concert given by internationally-acclaimed concert organist Thomas Trotter. Thomas performs a dazzling programme of works by Bach, Duruflé, Gardner, Mozart, Volans, and the thrilling Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue by Healey Willan.
Continuing the stellar line-up, on Saturday 21st May Colin Walsh, an organist renowned for his virtuosity, flair and interpretation of the French organ repertoire, returns to the Cathedral (Colin was Assistant Organist at Salisbury between 1978 and 1985) to perform a programme of works by Franck, Langlais, Saint-Saëns, Tournemire and Vierne. The programme also features the Introduction and Passacaglia by Sir Walter Alcock, another former Salisbury Cathedral organist.
Concerts in June and July are given by leading women organists: choral director, performer and composer Katherine Dienes is Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral and Anna Lapwood, whose wide-ranging musical career has already seen performances across Europe, and countless appearances on television and radio, is Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
In 2019, Anna opened the BAFTA TV awards on the organ of the Royal Festival Hall, and in 2021 she made her BBC Proms debut as soloist in Saint-Saëns ‘Organ’ Symphony with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder.
August sees the joyous return of the popular Organ Prom – a thrilling evening of your favourite classics and film scores played by Salisbury Cathedral’s home team: David Halls, John Challenger and Samuel Bristow. Buy a glass of Pimm’s and bask in the sounds of the Father Willis organ in an informal atmosphere.
This event was a sell-out in 2019, so buy your tickets early.
September’s concert is given by Richard Pinel, an organist known in both the UK and the United States. Richard has enjoyed international competition success with his organ playing, and he is currently Director of Music at Jesus College, Cambridge, and Director of the Edington Festival.
The final concert in October is given by David Briggs, and features works by Franck, Schmidt and Ravel. There’s also a rare chance to hear one of David’s legendary improvisations live in Salisbury Cathedral.
John Challenger, Assistant Director of Music and festival organiser said, “We are delighted that so many fine musicians are coming to perform here in the Cathedral, and I cannot wait to enjoy hearing the Father Willis organ played by so many accomplished musicians with such exciting repertoire. It’s a fantastic way to welcome back our beloved instrument after major restoration and two years of Covid restrictions.”
Alongside the evening concerts, a series of thirty-minute organ performances will also take place on certain Sunday afternoons before Choral Evensong.
‘Sunday Organ Music’ will take place on 22nd May, 10th July, 11th September and on 13th November, when we will welcome back former Salisbury Organ Scholar and now Sub-Organist at Winchester Cathedral, Claudia Grinnell.
On Saturday 5th November there will be an opportunity to hear an organ arrangement of Prokofiev’s masterpiece Peter and the Wolf, played on the Willis organ by John Challenger, (with a famous narrator to be announced) – ideally suited to children and young families.
Each of the seven evening concerts starts at 19.00. Tickets are on sale via the Cathedral website. Prices vary from £10 – £30. Tickets for wheelchair users include a free companion ticket.
Photography by Ash Mills.