Film and TV favourites like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Dr. Who along with popular classics such as Widor’s Toccata and Jerusalem are topping the bill when it comes to music requests for the Cathedral’s Organ Prom this August - but the 1 July deadline for putting in requests is fast approaching. So if you have something you’d like to hear played get in touch with John Challenger, the Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, as soon as possible on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, backstage, the Music Department are racing against time to get the organ fully operational again after static during the heavy electrical storms at the start of May blew its electrics. The bellows are still in operation so the organ can be played but the mechanism that allows the organists to set their stops automatically is currently out of action. This means even the simplest of piece can be a bit of a gym workout for the player. Take a look at this tweet recorded by out Assistant Director of Music John Challenger during a recent service.
John Challenger, Assistant director of Music at the Cathedral said: “In some ways I am enjoying the challenge of getting back to basics. However, there are times when it can be a bit hair-raising and much of what we play at the moment requires an assistant in the organ loft, definitely a job for two pairs of hands.”
The Cathedral launched a fund in April this year to raise money for a major overhaul of the famous Father Willis organ. This will put the organ out of action for the whole of 2019, with a bill likely to top £700,000. In the meantime David Halls is hopeful that, with some running repairs, it should see the Music Department through this year’s Southern Cathedrals Festival at the end of July.
David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral Director of Music said: “The team are doing really well, managing with the automatic stop system out of action but it isn’t sustainable. The organ works musically at the moment but it’s hard work and, frankly, the restoration project can’t come too soon.”
With the Southern Cathedrals Festival on from 18-21 July and the Organ Prom taking place at 19.00 on Saturday 25 August, David is confident the necessary repairs will hold, otherwise it’ll be back to basics again.
For any other enquiries or further information contact: Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral email@example.com 01722 555148