Rising star soprano joins glorious celebration of cathedrals choirs

A splendid celebration of choral music is the promise as the Southern Cathedrals Festival – which rotates between Chichester, Winchester and Salisbury – returns to Chichester this year, running from July 14-16.
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It will offer sacred choral and organ music performed to the very highest standard in the cathedral – plus a song recital featuring Natasha Page (soprano) and Ella O'Neill (piano) at Pallant House Gallery, Friday, July 14, 2pm, tickets on chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/873636422

Charles Harrison, organist and master of the choristers of Chichester Cathedral, is looking forward to the joys and challenges: “It gives us a chance to perform music that otherwise would be out of our reach. Chichester is quite a small cathedral choir and we simply don't have enough singers to sing the larger-scale works that the bigger choirs will do but once we are together with the other choirs these bigger pieces are within our reach and it is lovely to have the enhanced power. Chichester is about 22 voices and the combined choirs come to nearly 80. There is a real excitement in tackling pieces of music that would not usually be open to us but there is also the challenge of adapting to working with the others. Every cathedral choir has its own style. Ours is different to Winchester's which is different to Salisbury 's so part of the challenge is to gel, to listen to the others, to adapt and to be flexible and to create a performance which brings us together. We had a rehearsal day at Winchester in the middle of June, an opportunity to get used to working together.”

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The final result, Charles knows now, will be a celebration of the great strength of these choirs: “I always come away with a real sense of admiration for what children are capable of not just in terms of skill but also stamina. They will be singing at the festival and then the day after they come back and they will be singing three services in their own cathedral and that will then be the end of the academic year. We will be losing five choristers this year and always when we come back there is a period of consolidation in the autumn as we gain new choristers. And it is that change that is part of the excitement of working with a cathedral choir.”

Natasha Page © Julian GuideraNatasha Page © Julian Guidera
Natasha Page © Julian Guidera

Also part of the Southern Cathedrals Festival will be the recital showcasing Natasha Page (soprano) and Ella O'Neill (piano) at Pallant House Gallery, featuring music by Richard Strauss, Claude Debussy, Frank Bridge, John Ireland, Roger Quilter, William Walton, Margaret Schweikert and Ingeborg Bronsart. The ticket price includes admission to Pallant House Gallery.

“I have known the soprano Natasha for a few years since she was a student. She has recently won a highly prestigious competition at Wigmore Hall. She is a rising star but she is also a delightful person who is really destined for great things. I think she has a great flexibility to her voice but also great expressive power. She really gets under the emotional skin of the music and she really knows how to it.”

Full details on https://southerncathedralsfestival.org.uk/