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Southern Cathedrals Festival

Music / No Comment / July 13, 2011

One of the shorter and lesser-known summer classical music festivals in England is actually one of its best. The Southern Cathedrals Festival takes place in suceeding years at Chichester, Salisbury and, starting tomorrow for 2011, in Winchester. Its emphasis is clearly on services and concerts by the three cathedral choirs in various combinations, rather than symphony orchestra concerts, as staged by the more renowned and much-longer established Three Choirs Festival.

Highlights this year include the Festival Eucharist, to be sung to the Messe solennelle by Jean Langlais on 15 July, the Feast of Saint Swithun, the Cathedral’s patron saint. There are two evening choral concerts. On the Friday evening, Salisbury and Winchester girl choristers with the lay clerks sing music for Pentecost featuring and, on Saturday 16 July, the final concert with boys and men from the three cathedrals sing ceremonial music with the Fine Arts brass ensemble. Organ afficionados will enjoy the recital being given by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, who directed the choir and orchestra at the Royal Wedding.

I am particularly looking forward to tomorrow afternoon’s Choral Evensong, featuring Charles Villiers Stanford’s Evening Service in A and the Te Deum by Herbert Howells. It is being recorded by BBC Radio 3 for broadcast later this year.

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