Musical Summer in our Cathedrals

29th June 2023

This Friday sees the launch of a festival to celebrate the father of choral music when Lincoln Cathedral plays host to the Byrd 400 featuring concerts, lectures, services and recitals; all in celebration of the life and work of William Byrd who died 400 years ago.

Musical Summer in our cathedrals, what will you discover?

All our cathedrals have musical offers this summer from the sacred to the contemporary – so do check your local cathedral to find out what you can discover. Here are just some of them.

Lincoln Cathedral Choir, the Choir of Merton College Oxford, the Tallis Scholars and Arculo will be among the performers bringing Byrd’s music to life, alongside a series of lectures from world-renowned Byrd Scholars.

The festival will culminate with a service of evensong on Tuesday 4 July at which a permanent memorial to William Byrd will be unveiled on the spot where he conducted.

The Revd Canon Nick Brown, Precentor at Lincoln Cathedral, who has oversight of music and liturgy at the Cathedral said that the memorial was a long overdue reminder of the wide-ranging influence Byrd’s work.

“We’re delighted to be marking the life and work of William Byrd, here in the Cathedral. He was undoubtedly England’s most prolific and respected composer of the late Renaissance, and his influence on our choral heritage is comparable to Shakespeare’s influence on the literary world.

“Byrd was Master of the Choristers at the cathedral from 1563 to 1572, during which time he composed much music for the relatively newly translated services of the Church of England. His music was pioneering and to this day his sacred music is among that most performed by parish and cathedral choirs – including our own.”

For a full programme of events taking place as part of the festival and to book your tickets, please click here.

This Saturday Chichester Cathedral will host a concert to raise awareness and funds for refugees around the world as part of the Festival of Chichester 2023.

Chichester too has a vibrant programme of music for summer including lunchtime concerts and is part of the Southern Cathedrals Festival 2023 which will see the cathedral host Alleluia! I Heard A Voice – a concert performed by the combined senior choristers and lay clerks of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals, with The Rose Consort of Viols.

More here.

The Lay Clerks of Hereford Cathedral will perform a special fundraising concert this Sunday (2 July).

A Summer Evening with the Lay Clerks will see performances from the adult musicians who sing at the choral services throughout the week and form the ‘back row’ of the Cathedral Choir.

For one evening only, they will be stepping out of the choir stalls and into the Cloisters to perform an evening of light and summery music which will feature a mix of traditional folk songs and close harmony arrangements, plus chansons by the Austrian / American cabaret songwriter, Georg Kreisler for the first time.

Stephen Challenger, Senior Lay Clerk at Hereford Cathedral, said:

“We are looking forward to performing a slightly different repertoire to our normal offering and sharing a summer evening with the audience in the surrounds of College Hall and the Cathedral Gardens. The concert will be a relaxed evening and there is a rumour that some pirates and police officers may be in attendance and join in with the singing…”

A Summer Evening with the Lay Clerks will take place on Sunday 2 July from 4–6 pm. Tickets cost £25, to include canapes and fizz, and are available to purchase from the Cathedral Shop or via the cathedral website.

Ely Cathedral welcomes back Music Celebrations International for The Great Britain Choral Festival 2023 An Atlantic Bridge next Tuesday (July 4) when singers from seven choirs will be joined by Cambridgeshire’s own Prime Brass to perform a mixture of cathedral classics and American and British folk songs, conducted by Craig Jessop, with Stan Engebretson, artistic director of the National Philharmonic Chorale.

The extensive programme will include old favourites such as Parry’s I was Glad, Handel’s Zadoc the Priest and Vaughan Williams’ O Clap your Hands from the UK, as well as Randall Thompson’s Last Words of David and Stephen Paulus’ Pilgrim’s Hymn from the USA. The concert is in aid of East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Tickets and more information from the Ely Cathedral website.

Other musical treats this summer at Ely include a Serenade to Music with Ely Sinfonia, Ely Choral Society and Ely Youth Choir, Gabrieli Roar – Dream of Gerontius which will feature over 250 young singers alongside the Polish National Youth Choir, world-class period instruments, singers and renowned soloists, and later in July the National Youth Training Choir. Ely is also bringing Meat Loaf by Candlelight to the cathedral for a night of Meat Loaf anthems, performed, by candlelight and featuring a live cast of West End singers.

Bradford Cathedral too has been hosting a number of By Candlelight cover band concerts during spring and its latest is Fleetwood Mac by Candlelight on Friday and Saturday July 14 and 15 featuring a cast of West End Singers. Others throughout the summer months are The Eagles By Candlelight in August andHans Zimmer’s Best Works and a Tribute to Queen in September. You can find all their featured events including the Cordiality Choral Concert here.

York Minster has announced a series of summer organ recitals featuring six internationally renowned musicians. Last year saw the return of organ recitals at the cathedral following the Grand Organ’s once-in-a-century refurbishment.

The summer recitals will take place on Thursday evenings in York Minster’s Nave with world-class organists and start on July 20 with John Scott Whiteley.

Salisbury Cathedral has announced that the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, the Pacific Chorale and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will together perform the Haydn Nelson Mass followed by Pietà by Richard Blackford on 22 July. Pietà is Richard’s third major work for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and won the prestigious Ivor Novello Composer Award in 2020 for the Choral Category.

Pietà is a powerful setting of the Stabat Mater with additional poems by the Ukraine poet Anna Akhmatova.

And later in August visitors can get their swing on at Salisbury with Swing Unlimited and their singers in the Cloisters for an afternoon of free music, singing and dancing.
Special outdoor catering and a bar is available.

Remember to check out what is on offer at a cathedral near you this summer.