Salisbury Cathedral is launching a major fundraising campaign for the repair and restoration of the famous Father Willis organ with a special concert-and-talk on Wednesday 18 April at 19.30 in the Cathedral.
The evening will start with an illustrated talk on the history of the organ and plans for its restoration. It’s an opportunity to learn how this magnificent instrument works and how its unique ‘voice’ is created.
The talk will be follow by a joint recital by Director of Music David Halls, Assistant Director of Music John Challenger and Organ Scholar Daniel Mathieson. On the programme is Alexandre Guilmant’s Grand Choeur alla Handel, Kenneth Leighton’s Martyrs (Organ Duet), Herbert Sumsion’s Pastoral, Passacaglia by J.S.Bach and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Finale (Symphony III - ‘Organ’ Symphony) transcribed David Briggs.
The renovation costs for the organ are likely to reach high as £700,000, a far cry from £3,500 it cost to build the organ in 1877, and will put the organ out of action for the whole of 2019 and some of 2020.
David Halls, Director of Music said: “This renovation work is essential and we want to carry it out before something really goes wrong with the organ. Whilst it still sounds as wonderful as ever, the workings are showing huge signs of wear, and it is only a matter of time before something fails. We want to make sure we make the repairs in time, rather than as an emergency response.
“Having no organ in the Cathedral is daunting because it plays such a major part in our musical lives and worship. However, necessity is the mother of invention and with the organ out of action, we have the chance to do some very creative work with the choir, piano, orchestra and a chamber organ. Visitors and our congregation can cherish old Father Willis this year and look forward to an exciting, inventive season in 2019-20.”
We hope you can join us for the first recital, but if you are unable to and would like to help with the costs of the organ restoration you can donate online here - we are very grateful for your support.
The Music Department have also revealed its exciting line-up of recitalists for this year’s organ recital series, including three exceptional organists from the USA and UK. This will be the last recital series before the famed Father Willis Organ is dismantled for renovation.
Seven evening recitals are planned between April and October, including a performance by Benjamin Sheen from St Thomas Church in heart of Midtown Manhattan, New York, Richard Pinel from Jesus College, Cambridge and Robert Sharpe from York Minster.
Other recitals will be given by the Cathedral’s home team.
All funds raised by this year’s series will go towards the renovation of the great Father Willis Organ.
An additional fundraising event, the Salisbury Cathedral Organ Prom, has been scheduled in August. It’s a chance to hear favourite organ classics and submit your requests - details of how to do this can be found here
The Organ Prom takes place on Saturday 25 August at 19.00 and audience members are welcome to enjoy a glass of Pimm’s and other refreshments during the performance.
Throughout the recital season, each performance features a big screen that relays the performer at work in the organ loft, via two cameras. Audience members sitting in the Nave are treated to a close-up view of the performer’s hands and feet. Those who prefer to listen without watching may sit in the Quire.
Tickets for each performance are £10 per person (£7.50 for wheelchair users) and can be purchased online or on the door on the night.
Dates and times:
Wednesday 18 April 19.30
The ALCOCK RECITAL and FUNDRAISING LAUNCH, given by the Cathedral Organists
Reception to follow recital
Wednesday 16 May 19.30
Recital by DAVID HALLS in aid of the Southern Cathedrals Festival which is hosted by the Cathedral this July
Wednesday 6 June 19.30
Recital by RICHARD PINEL of Jesus College, Cambridge
Wednesday 4 July 19.30
The JENKINSON RECITAL given by Daniel Mathieson, Cathedral Organ Scholar
Wednesday 8 August 19.30
Recital by BENJAMIN SHEEN, St Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York
Saturday 25 August 19.00
ORGAN PROM, a concert in aid of the restoration of our wonderful Father Willis organ featuring favourite classical pieces and requests performed by Director of Music, DAVID HALLS and Assistant Director of Music, JOHN CHALLENGER
Refreshments, including Pimms, will be available.
Weds 12 September 1930
The EMERY RECITAL performed by ROBERT SHARPE from York Minster
Weds 10 October 1930
A final ORGAN ‘REQUESTS’ recital before restoration begins. Your last opportunity to hear Father Willis in recital before renovation starts. Reception to follow recital. Details of how to submit requests will be published on the Cathedral website.
For any other enquiries or further information contact: Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral email@example.com 01722 555148