Salisbury Girl Choristers Open SCF Festival

Photo: Ash Mills

Salisbury’s girl choristers opened this year’s Southern Cathedrals Festival with Evensong on Wednesday 18 July. The service included two organ works and the anthem ‘He delivered the poor’ by CHH Parry, acknowledging the centenary of his death. 

An afternoon concert the following day given by the combined boy choristers and gentlemen of all three cathedrals

Photo: Ash Mills

featured poetry and music from the first world war era, interspersed with motets by Bach. Salisbury’s assistant director of music John Challenger and organ scholar Daniel Mathieson both played and all three directors of music conducted: David Halls (Salisbury), Charles Harrison (Chichester) and Andrew Lumsden (Winchester).

It is a testimony to the skills and stamina of cathedral musicians that later the same day David Halls and John Challenger directed and accompanied the combined choirs with the girl choristers of Salisbury and Winchester in Choral Evensong which was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and broadcast on 25 July (available on iPlayer until 24 August). It included music by Harris,

Photo: Ash Mills

Shephard, and Howells, with the Evening Service in B minor by Hugh Blair and the anthem ‘Seek him that maketh the seven stars’ by Jonathan Dove.

Salisbury Cathedral School hosted several chamber music concerts and there were three atmospheric Late Night Bach piano recitals, given by candlelight in the Cathedral’s north transept, and an organ recital by Daniel Cook, now Master of the Choristers at Durham Cathedral but a former Assistant Director of Music at Salisbury.

On Friday morning the boy choristers and lay clerks of Winchester occupied the choir stalls for a service of Choral Mattins, including Britten’s Te Deum in Ca and Julilate in Eb, and ‘There is an old belief’ from Parry’s Songs of Farewell. The boys and lay vicars of Chichester took over for Friday’s Evensong, with the canticles in D by Andrews and another of the Songs of Farewell, ‘Never weather-beaten sail’ as the anthem.

The main event on Friday evening was a concert of music by Handel and Purcell by the combined girl choristers of Salisbury and Winchester and gentlemen of all three cathedrals, accompanied by a period instrumental orchestra led by Margaret Faultless. The three directors shared the conducting and six senior girl choristers from Salisbury joined an alto, tenor and bass lay clerk from their choir to sing the solos in Purcell’s Te Deum, Julilate and ‘Bell Anthem’.