Royal visit celebrates Music Appeal

10 May 2019
Sublime music and song filled Norwich Cathedral for a royal celebration marking a major landmark in the £2.5m They Shall Laugh and Sing Music Appeal. His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex is the patron of the Cathedral’s appeal and last night (Thursday 9 May) he paid a special visit to hear about the progress of the campaign which The Dean of Norwich revealed has now raised more than £1.7m.
Prince Edward visits Norwich Cathedral May 2019 (c) Nick Butcher

The appeal aims to fund a major restoration of the Cathedral’s organ and provide more funding for the boy and girl choristers, and both aspects of the Cathedral’s musical life were placed centre stage during The Earl of Wessex’s visit.

Prince Edward joined the congregation for Evensong before meeting choristers and attending a reception in the Nave where the Boys, Girls and Men of the Cathedral Choir treated supporters of the campaign to a performance of Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

At the reception, The Dean of Norwich, The Very Revd Jane Hedges, thanked Prince Edward for his support and encouragement and she paid tribute to everyone who has contributed to the appeal so far.

“Music plays a central part in the life, ministry and mission of the Cathedral and so often as people leave a service it is the music that they comment on most, because as well as giving glory to God, it lifts people’s spirits and touches people at so many levels,” the Dean said.
“Like all things that are worthwhile, producing music to such a high standard is expensive and so 18 months ago we launched our appeal outlining the challenges which lay ahead of us.”

She said the biggest challenge was to fund a £1.8m rebuilding of the organ which hasn’t had a major restoration for more than 75 years and that the second part of the appeal aimed to raise £700,000 to enable the Cathedral to maintain the tradition of educating boy choristers and also offer extra music lessons for girl choristers.

The Dean added: “At the time of the launch I said that raising £2.5m felt like a huge mountain to climb, but that if we worked together we could do this. I’m delighted to say that we are making really good and steady progress and to date have raised £1,708,929 and 28p!
We still have a way to go, but we are further up the mountain than we expected to be at this stage and we have every confidence that we will reach the target for putting down the deposit for the organ by the autumn of this year.So once again, a huge thank you to all of you – both to the trusts, the Friends and to individual donors for your generosity.”

Following the Nave reception, Prince Edward was the guest of honour at a special fundraising dinner for the They Shall Laugh and Sing Music Appeal in the Cathedral’s Hostry.

For more information about how you can contribute to the appeal, visit www.cathedral.org.uk/music-appeal or email chaptersteward@cathedral.org.uk

About the Norwich Cathedral Organ
There are references to an organ at Norwich Cathedral dating back to the 14th century.
The current organ, built by the Norwich firm of Norman and Beard, was installed in 1899 although part of the organ dates back to the 17th century.

It was devastated by a fire that broke out during an Evensong in April 1938 but, despite the outbreak of the Second World War, a project to rebuild the organ was completed in the 1940s. This was the last time major work was undertaken on the instrument which is one of the largest organs in the country.

Today the organ - which has 6,655 pipes and 105 speaking stops - is used for some 1,500 services each year as well as special events and concerts.

About the Norwich Cathedral Choir
Norwich Cathedral Choir sings at the daily Evensong services and upholds a tradition of choral worship that stretches back almost unbroken to the Cathedral’s foundation in 1096.

The choir is led by Master of Music Ashley Grote and includes 20 boy choristers, aged eight to 13, who receive scholarships for Norwich School and sing at five services each week. There are also 24 girl choristers, aged 11 to 18, who are from different schools across the city and sing at one service each week.

The alto, tenor and bass parts of the choir are sung by six lay clerks, who are salaried, professional singers, and by six choral scholars.

In recent years, the choir has toured to Sweden, Germany and Italy, recorded for Priory Records, and given concert performances of works including Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passions and the requiems of Mozart, Fauré and Duruflé.

Picture: Nick Butcher