Organ Prom | Salisbury Cathedral

Search form

Join us for our special 'Behind the Library Door' events for half term this week... click here for details.


You are here

Organ Prom

Organ Prom Image Shadric Toop / Ash Mills
John Challenger (organ)
Available (£12.50) here
Track listing
1. Orb and Sceptre March (William Walton tr. John Challenger)
2. Largo from Xerxes (G. F. Handel tr. Edwin Lemare)
3. Toccata and Fugue in D minor (J. S. Bach)
4. Prelude in C sharp minor (Sergei Rachmaninoff tr. Louis Vierne)
5. Andantino (Edwin Lemare)
6. Marche Triomphale (Walter Alcock)
7. Nimrod (Edward Elgar tr. John Challenger)
8. Prelude and Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner tr. Edwin Lemare)
9. Toccata (Charles-Marie Widor)
10. Elegy (George Thalben-Ball)
11. Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 (Edward Elgar tr. Edwin Lemare)
In August 2018 Salisbury Cathedral was packed to the rafters as concert goers came to enjoy their first ever Organ Prom, a final ‘adieu’ before the Cathedral’s famous Father Willis organ was decommissioned for restoration in 2019. Following completion of this restoration, the instrument sounds more glorious than ever. Due to current social distancing measures the 2020 Organ Prom takes the form of an album to hear at home – enjoy an evening of spine-tingling classics from across the continent on one of the finest organs in the United Kingdom.

Of this most recent album, John Challenger said: “Our Cathedral’s great Father Willis organ, known and loved by listeners around the world, stood through the changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the current pandemic of our own century, we are denied the thrill of live performances of great works in grand spaces, the unforgettable shared musical experiences, the joy of massed crowds. I hope this album might remind us that, despite the loss, trials and uncertainty which currently surround us, it will one day be possible to share memorable musical experiences again, in the glorious and awe-inspiring spaces we know and love. We couldn’t let this summer pass without marking the return of our great organ from restoration, so I hope listeners will be able to find comfort in these well-known works, and the familiar sounds of this marvellous organ, restored for future generations.”


The venerable organ has never sounded better.
Choir & Organ, Michael Quinn
Gloriously kaleidoscopic earfuls that show off the organ’s colours in all their regal majesty. 
BBC Music Magazine, Paul Riley
Do not be too proud to enjoy this feast of unashamed rejoicing.
Cathedral Music Magazine, Timothy Storey
John Challenger goes to town, showcasing the magnificence of this instrument and the sterling work of Harrison and Harrison organ builders. One could argue the recording is a stereotypical organ recital but that doesn’t matter when everything is so well played […] The dynamic contrasts and range of timbres available on this organ are astonishing…
Church Music Quarterly, Ian Munro
Immediately it becomes clear that we are dealing with an excellent recording. […] Wonderful, how John Challenger decreases to pianissimo. It seems as if only the 32’ Double Diapason still fills the living room.
This is such a fantastic new disc [...] such a thrill to hear the newly restored Willis organ in all its glory, presented here by one of the organists who knows it best. A lot of guilty pleasure pieces – and what exhilarating playing!
Anna Lapwood
John Challenger’s Organ Prom CD is terrific, swaggering & coaxing by turn, with more than a hint of grand guignol. And an unparalleled understanding of the discords in Nimrod. A brilliant listen. 
David Owen Norris
There is huge power at hand, best demonstrated in the climaxes of the Bach ‘Toccata’, where the frequency range is wide and the full, open sound just the right side of overwhelming […] The engineers and producer have attained sound that demonstrates the power of the instrument and the size of the space it’s in, with John Challenger’s innate musicality and skill at producing contrasting mood and the sonic attributes of this newly-overhauled majestic instrument.
HiFi+ Magazine, Simon Pope

Recorded in Salisbury Cathedral on 6, 7, 8 July 2020

Engineer, Producer and Editor: Andrew Post
Producer: Samuel Bristow
Organ Prom image © Shadric Toop
Photography © Ash Mills