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Southern Cathedrals Festival

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Southern cathedrals festival practice

The Southern Cathedrals Festival (known for short as "SCF") is a 5-day music festival held alternately at the cathedrals of Chichester, Winchester and Salisbury in England, in the penultimate week of July. The festival was restored in 1960 after initial attempts to create the annual occasion - such efforts led to 28 years without it. The directors of music act as festival director when it is their cathedral's turn to host the event - currently, they are Charles Harrison (Organist & Master of the Choristers, Chichester Cathedral), Andrew Lumsden (Organist and Director of Music, Winchester Cathedral) and David Halls (Director of Music, Salisbury Cathedral).


Southern cathedrals festival practice 2


In September 1904 a service was held in Chichester Cathedral to celebrate the reopening of the main organ of Chichester Cathedral following its restoration in by Hele of Plymouth. This brought together the cathedral choirs of Chichester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral. In 1905, the cathedral choirs met in Salisbury, followed by Winchester in 1906. Bishop Wilberforce of Chichester died in September 1907, so the return to Chichester had to be delayed until 1908. Thereafter, the Three Choirs Festival, as it was then known, continued until 1913 when the annual meeting was suspended because of the First World War. The festival was revived in 1920 and continued to be held until 1932. At that time the annual meeting consisted of just a single day and the joint performance by the three choirs of a choral evensong.

In 1960 the festival was re-established by John Birch (Chichester), Alwyn Surplice (Winchester) and Christopher Dearnley (Salisbury), with the title changed to the Southern Cathedrals Festival, and the proceedings increased to two days, with two joint Evensongs and the addition of a concert.

The festival is now three days long consisting of three concerts, a choral masterclass, an organ recital, a Festival Eucharist, buffet lunches, evensongs sung separately by each choir and performances of the "Fringe". The Fringe is an entertainment which is written and performed by the hosting cathedral. It consists of solos sung by lay clerks, comedy acts by organists and vicars, and so on. It is always well received.

Commissioned works

  • 1965 Bryan Kelly: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C
  • 1965 Leonard Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
  • 1991 Patrick Gowers: Cantata
  • 1996 Francis Jackson: I will extol Thee
  • 1999 Francis Grier: A Prayer of St. Augustine
  • 2004 Malcolm Archer: Benedicite
  • 2005 Simon Lole: O Holy Ghost, O Paraclete
  • 2008 Tarik O'Regan: Nunc Dimittis
  • 2009 Will Todd: Psalm 146
  • 2012 Neil Cox: The River of Life
  • 2013 James MacMillan: The Offered Christ
  • 2015 Howard Moody: In the hand of God
  • 2016 Ned Bigham: Music to hear
  • List of organ recitalists

    An organ recital is given in the evening of the first day of the festival. Recitalists since 1986 have included:


    Southern Cathedrals Festival Wikipedia

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