Organ Festival 2022

Celebrate our musical heritage
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Join us for a year of musical celebration

At Salisbury Cathedral we are fortunate to possess a particularly fine organ completed in 1877 by ‘Father’ Henry Willis. This magnificent and historically-important instrument received a major restoration by Harrison and Harrison in 2019, returning to use in February 2020.

The instrument sounds stunning, but the pandemic has prevented us from running a celebratory concert series until now. We are delighted to present the much-delayed Organ Festival, to herald the return of our beloved organ.

The Festival (which runs from April to November) features some of the world’s leading concert organists in Saturday night concerts, a Sunday Organ Music series, an Organ Prom, events for local children and an afternoon performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Come and celebrate with us!


Our Concerts

Thomas Trotter – Saturday 30 April – 19.00

Following two years of disruption due to Covid-19, we are delighted finally to present the official opening concert on our restored Father Willis organ. Join us as internationally-acclaimed concert organist Thomas Trotter performs a dazzling programme of works by Bach, Duruflé, Gardner, Mozart, Volans, and the thrilling Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue by Healey Willan.

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Colin Walsh – Saturday 21 May – 19.00

Renowned for his virtuosity, flair and interpretation of the French organ repertoire in particular, we welcome the acclaimed organist (and former Salisbury Assistant Organist) Colin Walsh as he performs a programme of works by Franck, Langlais, Saint-Saëns, Tournemire and Vierne, as well as the Introduction and Passacaglia by former Salisbury Cathedral Organist, Sir Walter Alcock.

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Katherine Dienes – Saturday 18 June – 19.00

On Saturday 18 June we are delighted welcome Katherine Dienes to Salisbury Cathedral to give a concert on our Father Willis organ. Katherine is in high demand as a choral director, recitalist and composer, and has held the post of Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral since 2008.

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Anna Lapwood – Saturday 23 July – 19.00

Organist, conductor and broadcaster Anna Lapwood is Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Her wide-ranging musical career has already seen performances across Europe, and countless appearances on television and radio. In 2019 she opened the BAFTA TV awards on the organ of the Royal Festival Hall, and in 2021 she made her BBC Proms debut as soloist in Saint-Saëns ‘Organ’ Symphony with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder.

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Organ Prom – Saturday 13 August – 19.00

Join us for the return of the Organ Prom – a thrilling evening of your favourite classics and film scores played by none other than the Salisbury Cathedral home team of organists: David Halls, John Challenger and Samuel Bristow. Buy a glass of Pimm’s, prom along to your favourites, and bask in the sounds of the Father Willis organ in an informal atmosphere. This event was a sell-out in 2019, so buy your tickets early.

Featuring music from Star Wars, Harry Potter and James Bond, alongside iconic classics by Bach and Handel plus much more!

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Richard Pinel – Saturday 17 September – 19.00

Hailed as a ‘force of nature’, Richard Pinel’s performances as an organist have taken him across the UK and the United States. Richard has enjoyed international competition success with his organ playing, and he is currently Director of Music at Jesus College, Cambridge, and Director of the Edington Festival.

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David Briggs – Saturday 8 October – 19.00

Our closing evening organ concert sees internationally-renowned concert organist and improviser extraordinaire David Briggs give a concert of works by Franck, Schmidt and Ravel. The concert will close with a substantial improvisation by David on three themes – an exceedingly rare opportunity to hear David’s formidable improvisatory talents live in Salisbury Cathedral.

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Peter and the Wolf – 5 November

Join us for a family-friendly reading of classic children’s tale Peter and the Wolf, accompanied by lively music on our organ. Read by a mystery celebrity guest, this story will be brought to life in the magical atmosphere of the Cathedral.

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The Restoration of our Organ

A need to restore Salisbury Cathedral’s ‘Father’ Willis organ had been identified around 2015, in consultation with Harrison & Harrison of Durham, and the organ consultant Paul Hale. The organ was displaying a large build-up of dirt and signs of increasing wear and unreliability. Find out more about why our organ required specialist attention from John Challenger, our Assistant Director of Music:

A large-scale restoration by Harrison & Harrison was scheduled for the year 2019, at a cost of around £700,000, and a fundraising appeal was launched. The Cathedral organists were adamant that the unique tonal characteristics of the historic instrument should be preserved, and should remain as faithful as possible to Willis’s original specification of 1876, and the work of Henry Willis III in 1934. Thus no major tonal alterations were planned.

The instrument was returned and brought back into regular use by February 2020