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News: BBC Radio 3 Live Broadcast for Ash Wednesday

Guildford Cathedral | BBC Radio 3 Live Broadcast and World Premiere

Wednesday 14 February 4pm | Ash Wednesday

Guildford Cathedral is delighted to have been chosen for the BBC Radio 3 live broadcast of Choral Evensong on Ash Wednesday. The broadcast will also feature a newly commissioned World Premiere!

Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist and Master of the Choristers said: ‘In thinking about commissioning a new work for Ash Wednesday, I wanted to approach a musician whom I knew would provide me with a distinctive voice that was authentically theirs - and Gregory has responded beautifully to that request. Not only has he sought out an interesting and thought-provoking text to set, but he also offers a very clever response to the 'half' of the text in which darkness and uncertainty begin to enter following the first 'half' in which the music begins brightly. Gregory has written with the acoustical space in mind, and in a language which is at once his own personal musical style but accessible to all. It is an extremely fine piece - very well crafted, and much enjoyed by the choir. We are delighted to have it and it will become a permanent fixture in this Cathedral choir's repertoire.”

Gregory May, Composer said: ‘It was such a nice surprise to receive this commission, and to know that I was writing for such a special choir and the amazing acoustic of their cathedral. My piece sets words by Richard Crashaw, which meditate on humanity's fate of forever returning to sin. The music starts brightly, but darkness and uncertainty creep in towards the end, with writing that pays homage to 16th century English polyphony. Katherine's support for young musicians is absolutely incredible, and it means a lot to me that she believed in my music enough to commission this piece for such an important service in the church calendar.’

The newly commissioned piece has been made possible by two generous donors. One of the donors has dedicated in the memory of her husband, Roger Howland. The other donor wishes to remain anonymous. We are most grateful to these donors who have made a new work possible as well as supporting young musicians.

All are welcome to come along to the Broadcast but must be seated no later than 3.45pm. The service will be sung by our Girl Choristers and Lay Clerks.

Ends For more information contact Nicola Pratt, Head of Development at Guildford Cathedral on 01483 547884


Guildford Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral is the newest Church of England Cathedral consecrated on a new site, and the only Cathedral dedicated to the Holy Spirit.

When WWII stopped the building process with the Cathedral partially completed, there were fears that the building would not be completed, and even talks of tearing down what was already built. But in an incredible display of support, thousands of individual bricks were bought by members of the public and community groups. Even Queen Elizabeth II joined in a bought and signed a brick. These simple gifts started the journey of the People’s Cathedral.

That support has been rewarded with a Cathedral that stands strong on Stag Hill, an instantly recognisable symbol of Guildford that can be seen from miles away, a symbol of hope and a sign of homecoming. Inside is a place of light and peace, used as both a place of worship and as a venue for the local community. The natural light that streams in highlights the open space and creates an atmosphere of stillness for all visitors. It is a space made possible by the people and used for the people.

This incredible building stands as a testament to what’s achievable when people pull together, from the passion, faith, and dedication to make this building happen in the 20th century, to today’s team who continue that dedication, faith, and mission to be Open to God, Open to All.

Gregory May

Greg is a 21-year-old composer, currently studying composition with Matthew Kaner at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He previously studied with Christian Mason at Cambridge University, and with David Knotts and Edmund Jolliffe at the Junior department of the Royal Academy of Music, on a scholarship. His pieces have been played in the UK, Germany, and Croatia, in venues including St. John's Smith Square, King's Place, Kettle's Yard, and Guildford and Ely cathedrals, and by performers including Rolf Hind, Susanne Kessel, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, the choirs of Guildford Cathedral and Clare College Cambridge, and the Rothko Collective.

He's attended masterclasses and received tutoring from composers including Helen Grime, Stephen Goss, Diana Burrell, Dobrinka Tabakova, Hannah Kendall, Nico Muhly, and Richard Causton. He was a winner in the 2020 BBC Young Composer Competition.

GUILDFORD CATHEDRAL CHOIR has sung at daily liturgies in Guildford Cathedral since 1961. Music at the Cathedral has flourished under five successive Organists and Masters of the Choristers, currently Katherine Dienes-Williams. Originally comprised of 16 boy choristers and 12 adult lay clerks, we have in addition 18 girl choristers, six lay clerks and supplemented by additional deputy singers on occasion. The boys attend the Royal Grammar School, where they rehearse four times each week, and sing with the lay clerks at Evensong on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as on Sunday at both Eucharist and or Evensong. The girls attend a variety of schools, rehearsing at the Cathedral on a Tuesday evening. They sing at Evensong with the lay clerks on Fridays, and on Sunday at Eucharist and or Evensong.

The lay clerks sing Evensong on Mondays. All these services are fully choral. The choir aspires to broadcast on radio and television, to record and to tour, and enjoys taking part in joint services with other choirs from the U.K. and abroad, as well as singing services at diocesan parish churches from time to time.

Added Monday 12th February 2024