Celebrating 90 years of SMS

Salisbury Journal: Jonathan Willcocks Jonathan Willcocks

SALISBURY Musical Society (SMS) will mark its 90th anniversary with a special concert on Saturday.

To mark the occasion, one of the society’s patrons, who wishes to remain anonymous, commissioned a new work by composer Jonathan Willcocks.

Willcocks, who is musical director of Guildford Choral Society, the Chichester Singers and the professional chamber orchestra Southern Pro Music as well as a freelance conductor, counts large-scale orchestral scores and chamber music as well as much choral work among his compositions.

For SMS he has composed My God and King, setting to music the words of 17th century poet George Herbert, who lived in Salisbury for many years, in a work described as “joyous” and “exhilarating” by the group.

Willcocks, who is the son of former cathedral organist and SMS honorary president Sir David Willcocks, said: “The starting points for the writing of My God and King were several. Firstly, there was the opportunity to help celebrate a major landmark in the history of a choir with such a distinguished history as the Salisbury Musical Society.

“Then there was the uplifting poetry of George Herbert who, as rector of the little parish of Fuggletstone St Peter with Bemerton St Andrew near Salisbury, would have drawn inspiration from the beautiful surroundings in which he lived.

“And, thirdly, there was the opportunity to write a work to be given its first performance in Salisbury Cathedral, with its arching spaces and centuries of ecclesiastic, musical and cultural history to surround the music.”

He used one of Herbert’s most familiar poems Let all the World in Ev’ry Corner Sing as the basis of the piece.

He will be conducting SMS and Chelsea Opera Group in its first performance, while regular conductor David Halls will lead the other work in the concert, Berlioz’s Grande Mess des Morts.

The concert will start at 7.30pm in the Cathedral. Tickets are available on the door, from Salisbury Playhouse or at salisburymusicalsociety.org.uk.

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