Music of the heavenly spheres comes to the Cathedral in the New Year

Salisbury Cathedral has announced details of two big musical events that will take place in the early months of 2023, including a performance of Holst’s The Planets that will feature poetry from local schools.

Sunday, 22nd January 2023
Epiphany Devotion at 5pm
A special service to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the coming of
the Magi, takes place on January 22.
During the service, parts 5 and 6 of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio will be sung in German, accompanied by period instruments.
Soloists include soprano Caroline Halls, a former chorister, along with adult members of the choir.
The collegiate style seating (facing into the nave) and candlelight will lend an intimate atmosphere to this early evening service.

Saturday, 4th February
The Planets by Gustav Holst at 7pm
Another treat from Salisbury Cathedral’s music team. Take a musical journey across the galaxy with Holst’s sublime masterwork, The Planets, Op. 32, a seven-movement orchestral suite transcribed for organ by John Challenger, assistant director of music and principal organist at Salisbury Cathedral.
This exciting interplanetary voyage includes poetry written and performed by Martin Figura, using words and ideas that he has gathered during workshops with local schoolchildren.
Participating schools include Exeter House School and Salisbury Cathedral School supported by La Folia, as well as primary students working with Salisbury Cathedral’s education team.
A live video-link to the organ loft, visible on the cathedral’s big screen, allows the audience behind the scenes to see the organist at work and, at times, will take concert goers up into outer space all within the atmospheric surroundings of the 800-year-old building
“I have always wanted to make an arrangement of The Planets (originally written for orchestra) for this spectacular organ,” John Challenger said. “Holst’s highly evocative suite has captivated me since I was a child, and I am always looking for new ways to share the joys of our very fine pipe organ too.
“It is a truly special experience to be in the Cathedral at night listening to great music and hearing the incredible sounds of this instrument resonate from every corner, and I am so thrilled that this very personal project has extended beyond the performance to local schools and students.
“It fired my imagination as a child and has fired the imaginations of so many others. I cannot wait to share it with everyone on February 4.”
Holst’s The Planets was written between 1914 and 1917, and premiered in 1918. Each movement is named after a planet and depicts its supposed character – for example, Mars the bringer of war or Venus the bringer of peace.
Martin Figura has taken these themes and worked with children in his workshops to create ideas and phrases to incorporate into his poetry.
Tickets for Gustav Holst The Planets are now on sale via the cathedral website. Tickets: £20 for adults and £5 for children under 18 years.

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