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Summer festival celebrates return of Norwich Cathedral’s historic organ

From an epic concert featuring three Cathedral Choirs to a Battle of the Organs, audiences will be able to enjoy a whole week of musical festivities to celebrate Norwich Cathedral’s organ this July.

The historic pipe organ is at the heart of the Cathedral’s musical life and the special summer festival is planned to celebrate the first anniversary of the organ’s return following an ambitious rebuild project to ensure people will be able to enjoy its music for generations to come.

The Organ Reborn! Norwich Cathedral Organ Festival will take place from Saturday 6 to Sunday 14 July 2024.

Featuring three headline concerts, six organ recitals, two talks and more, there is a packed programme of events for music fans to look forward to.

Ashley Grote, the Cathedral’s Master of Music, said: “We are really excited to be celebrating the return of Norwich Cathedral’s historic pipe organ with this special festival showcasing the organ in all its glory with nine days of wonderful musical events. From big concerts and services to talks and school workshops, there is something for everyone in the programme and we hope people of all ages will enjoy hearing the incredible music being played on this magnificent instrument.”

He added: “The festival week will bring internationally renowned organists to Norwich as well as world-leading ensembles including the BBC Singers and the Britten Sinfonia. The opening concert will see Norwich Cathedral Choir join forces with Ely and Peterborough Cathedral Choirs for a thrilling programme of choral favourites. There will be a programme for schools running through the week, a family-friendly Battle of the Organs and a silent movie with live organ accompaniment. All of these events will run alongside our choral services, one of which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 during the festival week.”

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock, said: “Norwich Cathedral is delighted that the festival will celebrate the amazing breadth and diversity of which organ music is capable. Across a whole range of styles and performances, the festival invites the wider community to experience organ music in all its versatile brilliance.”

The festival will start in style on Saturday 6 July when Norwich Cathedral Choir will be joined by Ely Cathedral Choir and Peterborough Cathedral Choir for a concert featuring choral favourites including Parry’s I was glad and Handel’s Zadok the Priest.

The BBC Singers will be returning on Thursday 11 July for a performance featuring works by East Anglian composer Benjamin Britten and settings of texts by medieval mystic Julian of Norwich.

The hat-trick of headline concerts will conclude on Saturday 13 July with Britten Sinfonia and Norwich Cathedral Choir performing a programme of works by Fauré, Poulenc and Duruflé.

Throughout the festival week there will also be many more organ concerts to enjoy, ranging from A Night at the Movies with Leicester Square Odeon organist Donald MacKenzie to recitals by social media star Anna Lapwood and internationally acclaimed concert organist David Briggs.

The free Battle of the Organs concert on Saturday 13 July will see Norwich Cathedral’s three organists – Ashley Grote, David Dunnett and Robbie Carroll – join forces to play musical favourites ranging from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue D minor to the theme from Thunderbirds on three organs all at once!

As always, all are welcome to attend daily worship at the Cathedral, and on Wednesday 10 July at 3pm BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting Choral Evensong live from Norwich Cathedral as part of the Organ Festival.

Full details of the festival, including ticket prices and how to book, are available at cathedral.org.uk

The festival is being generously underwritten by The Statham Society which supports the musical life of Norwich Cathedral.