At the weekend GPs from the Salisbury area who form the Sarum South Primary Care Network begun administering the second round of covid vaccinations for the over 80s in Salisbury Cathedral, and our organists once again provided a soothing musical backdrop. But there’s more…
Not content with undertaking this musical marathon (between them our Assistant Director of Music, John Challenger and Director of Music, David Halls have clocked up around 270 hours at the organ console), John Challenger and a small group of music specialists have recorded Salisbury Meditation – Music for the NHS, a digital album of classics played during the vaccination sessions. Funds raised will go to NHS Charities Together, the membership body for 241 NHS charities that give £1 million every day to help our hospitals do more.
The album is on sale from Monday 29 March, and along with fundraising, celebrates the work of the amazing Sarum South Primary Care Network team, who have topped over 25,000 jabs in the Cathedral since January.
A collaboration between John Challenger, the Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, and award-winning classical music recording producer and engineer Andrew Mellor of AJM Productions Ltd, it features sixteen tracks played by John on the Cathedral’s renowned Father Willis Organ. The album is being distributed by classical music specialist [PIAS] UK.
The image for the album cover was supplied by Declan Spreadbury, Central Booking Coordinator for Plastic Surgery at Salisbury District Hospital and a keen photographer in his spare time.
John Challenger. Assistant Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral said:
“Since we started playing for the vaccinations in January, we have felt a particularly close tie with NHS workers, volunteers, and patients coming in for their jabs. The response to the music has been incredible, so this is a chance for us to thank the NHS team for their heroic work”.
“Personally, it has been very moving to witness such an historic effort. Many of the patients who come in are already part of our congregation and community, and their vaccination provided their first outing in a very long time.
“There were tears. I think coming into this sacred building, having not heard ‘live’ music for so long, meant a lot to them, particularly hearing our beloved Father Willis organ once again. It has certainly marked a milestone in my life.”
Recording producer Andrew Mellor said:
“I approached John about the album because I wanted both to contribute to the NHS effort but also to raise awareness of music and musicians, and the role they can play in healing and coming to terms with the kinds of tragedies we have seen during this pandemic.
“We face difficult times ahead in art, music and culture, and this story has shown the value and importance of music, and its role in sustaining our wellbeing and happiness, and in enriching our lives.”
Ellie Orton, Chief Executive for NHS Charities Together, said:
“Thank you, Salisbury Cathedral, for supporting NHS Charities Together. It was inspiring to see the reports on how the Cathedral had adapted to being a vaccination centre and it must have been wonderful for those getting their jabs to hear John’s music. I urge everyone to buy the album not least because the funds raised will help us continue to support NHS workers, volunteers and patients at the centre of the crisis, and every donation will make a difference.”
Richard Gay, Head of Classics at [PIAS] UK and a resident of Salisbury said:
“When Andrew and John approached me to distribute the album, we seized the opportunity to be a part of this great project. We believe there is an appetite for this sort of music at this moment in time, and the various arrangements for organ work so very well here, it has resulted in a first-class recording. John’s sublime playing, together with the wonderful tones of the recently restored Father Willis organ, make this a wonderful collection of Meditative and Calming music that all can enjoy and in doing so, support such a very worthy cause”
Salisbury Meditation – Music for the NHS is available for streaming and download from Apple Music, Spotify, Presto Music and all other leading DSPs and features many well-known works which have been played at the vaccination sessions, including composers such as Bach, Elgar, Brahms, Handel, Saint-Saëns, Vaughan Williams and Boëllmann.