13th June 2024

Evening Songs returns to Salisbury Cathedral

Evening Songs returns to Salisbury Cathedral

A unique music collaboration between La Folia, Exeter House School, Able Hands Together, Salisbury Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral School

Following six months of creative workshops and planning, Evening Songs will return to Salisbury Cathedral on Tuesday 2 July at 5.30pm for a very special Evensong service.

This ground-breaking project sees special needs students from Exeter House School in Salisbury and choristers from Salisbury Cathedral come together to devise new words and melodies for the traditional Evensong service. While the format remains largely the same, much of the music is original, created from the young singers’ own experiences and suggestions.

Evening Songs was first created in 2016 and held again in 2019. This year the music and words have been created by students from Exeter House School, Exeter House Vocational Centre, co-farmers from Wilton-based Able Hands Together and choristers from Salisbury Cathedral. They have been led by musicians Howard Moody, Lynsey Docherty, Mark Padmore and David Halls, who is also organist for the service.

La Folia is a Wiltshire-based music charity that brings together musicians, writers and performers to create new music, in ground-breaking collaborations and performances, under the leadership of Howard Moody. It began devising projects for making music with young people with special needs more than twenty years ago.

Able Hands Together is a community farm, based at Little Wishford Farm, near Salisbury, offering life-changing opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities, teaching skills to aid development and independence.

Howard Moody, Artistic Director of La Folia and creator of Evening Songs, said: “Since workshops began at the start of this year, there have been many extraordinary experiences. In the very first session with a student at Exeter House, we spoke of what it would be like to walk into the Cathedral at the end of the day and hear music. In response, the student started singing his own words and that incredible melody is one of several that feature in the service. It is exciting to be running Evening Songs for the third time and we are looking forward to sharing the new music created by the young students and choristers.”

Evening Songs has had three creative stages. Early workshops at the start of the year were very intimate, with small groups of students or individuals, listening to what everyone had to offer and writing down the musical score. The second stage was to start rehearsing the music, still allowing for new ideas and for the students to find their own individual musical voices. Then, in April, students and Cathedral choristers came together to devise the central part of the service, finally being joined by the lay vicars in final preparations for the service.

Josh Hamblin, Assistant Head Teacher at Exeter House School, said: “Exeter House has had the privilege of working with La Folia for over a decade and what we have learnt is that the work we do is more than a series of projects; it is a legacy. Evening Songs is beyond compare and I challenge anyone to sit dry-eyed throughout the entire evening. It is passion and joy in its rawest form.”

David Halls, Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral, said: “Evening Songs spreads the good news about the healing and restorative power which making music together provides, and it is so appropriate that this special project culminates in an act of worship in the breathtaking space of Salisbury Cathedral. Once again it has been a privilege to se the results of what the Cathedral choristers and pupils from Exeter House have created together.”


Evening Songs takes place on Tuesday 2 July at 5.30pm in Salisbury Cathedral. Everyone is welcome to join the special service.