Southern Cathedrals Festival 2018 in Salisbury

The Southern Cathedrals Festival brings together the choirs and organists of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester for four days of concerts and services, rotating between the three cathedrals. 

This year the festival from 18-21 July was hosted by Salisbury, and commemorated the centenary of the end of the first world war, with a theme of remembrance running through the music and liturgies.

Photo: Ash Mills 

The nave of the cathedral was dominated by the extraordinary installation ‘Les Colombes’ by the German artist Michael Pendry: around 2,500 white origami doves that ‘fly’ above the central aisle, symbolising resilience, peace and hope. This international touring artwork was meant to have moved on to its next destination a few weeks earlier, but its visit to Salisbury had been extended in response to the nerve agent attack in the city in March. Prayers for all those affected by the attack, especially the two most recent victims Dawn Sturges and Charlie Rowley, were included in all the festival services, and the Salisbury clergy expressed their gratitude to all those who had chosen to visit at this difficult time.

This context, together with the powerful additional imagery of black silhouettes of first world war soldiers standing against some of the nave pillars and deep red poppies, roses and carnations cascading from the pillars and surrounding the font, gave added resonance to the performances.