Orchestral Evensong

Well, the Cathedral musicians certainly ended the summer term with a bang and not a whimper this time. Just when you didn’t think it could get more outrageously better, you find yourself in the middle of the most extraordinary Orchestral Evensong. 86 singers and a 50+ orchestra somehow managed to squeeze themselves into the crossing of the church, with the Director of Music conducting triumphantly from between the pews at the front of the central aisle.

There was not really much space for clergy. I had to sit in my stall (which is a rare thing in these parts) and then conduct the service from the pulpit. It did feel, when singing the Shepherd responses from up there, as though I was at the top of a minaret giving the call to prayer.

Stanford in Bb was a revelation with the full orchestral accompaniment. And Bairstow’s Blessed City felt equally fresh and new.

The congregation clearly enjoyed singing the hymns along with the massed choirs and orchestra and the choirs themselves were clearly having a blast. I know, I was amongst them. It seemed like the right kind of night to join in by singing all the choral bits too.

This whole endeavour was to celebrate music, at the bidding of the Royal School of Church Music. I knew it was a good idea when it was first suggested, but had no idea it would be quite such a flamboyant and extravagant success.

Congratulations to Frikki Walker the Director of Music, to Geoff Woollatt at the organ, the choirs, musicians and the hangers on who help to make it happen. Those kinds of musical events don’t happen unless there is a rich, complex and positive set of personal ties and relationships to draw people together and to draw people in.

Warm good wishes to the cathedral musicians who take a breather, at least from leading public worship, for a few weeks. We continue, meanwhile, with a Sung Eucharist and Sung Evensong next Sunday morning and evening.


  1. Did you video it by any chance?

  2. No, you had to be there. However there are some pics of the rehearsal on Gordon Smith’s flickr page.


  3. Martin Ritchie says

    Sounds amazing – would have loved to have sung in the choir, but sadly couldn’t make it over.

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