On Friday 28 August 2020, Salisbury Cathedral is releasing a ‘takeaway’ promenade performance in the form of an album marking the return to service of their legendary Father Willis organ and the 800th Anniversary of the Cathedral itself.
Organ Prom is the second album to be released on the Cathedral’s own label and features tracks that were meant to be heard at the Cathedral’s 2020 Organ Prom this summer. Along with many other events it had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings and this wonderful compilation is the result.
Recorded by Assistant Director of Music, John Challenger, the album was made away from the public gaze, in the quiet hours after the Cathedral had closed - a stark contrast to the previous Summer Prom back in August 2018, when nearly a thousand concert goers gathered to hear great music, enjoy a glass of Pimm’s and bid ‘adieu’ to the organ before its 14-month-long repair and restoration work got underway.
The return of Father Willis should have been a public triumph. According to John, the instrument sounds more glorious than ever but, tantalisingly, few people have had the chance to hear it yet. That’s when he decided that if people couldn’t come to the 2020 Organ Prom, he would take it out to them in the form of an album.
The programme is unashamedly popular, a collection of spine-tingling classics from across the continent, such as Widor’s Toccata and Elgar’s Nimrod, along with famous works by Bach, Handel, Rachmaninoff, Wagner, and others.
The album artwork is by the Brighton based illustrator Shadric Toop, who is known for (amongst other things) his quirky online and brochure illustrations created for Glyndebourne Opera.
John Challenger, Assistant Director of Music said: “The Cathedral’s great Father Willis organ, known and loved by listeners around the world, played its way through the vicissitudes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It took this pandemic to silence it completely - and to put pay, sadly, to our plans for a year-long festival to celebrate its return to service.
“I hope this album reminds us that, despite the loss, trials and uncertainty that currently surround us, at some point we will be able to share memorable musical experiences again, and I hope listeners will take comfort in these well-known works and the sound of this marvellous organ, restored for future generations to enjoy.”
Organ Prom retails at £12.50 and can be ordered online here
- Orb and Sceptre March (William Walton
- Largo from Xerxes (G. F. Handel)
- Toccata and Fugue in D minor (J. S. Bach)
- Prelude in C sharp minor (Sergei Rachmaninoff)
- Andantino (Edwin Lemare)
- Marche Triomphale (Walter Alcock)
- Nimrod (Edward Elgar)
- Prelude and Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner)
- Toccata (Charles-Marie Widor)
- Elegy (George Thalben-Ball)
- Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 (Edward Elgar)
Recorded in Salisbury Cathedral on 6, 7, 8 July 2020
Engineer/Producer and Editor: Andrew Post
Producer: Samuel Bristow
Album Artwork: Shadric Toop
Photography: Ash Mills