This week sees the return of Celebrate Voice, the annual musical festival with its focus on singing.

From opera to jazz, cabaret to choral, it’s a wonderful programme of performances that Salisbury Guildhall is promising to playing host to.

One of the highlights of the festival is the play premiere of I Lived For Art, the new production by Philip Blake-Jones, who I was fortunate to catch up with earlier in the week.

Philip’s life is one that has been dedicated to music. As a young boy growing up in Yorkshire, he originally fell in love with classical music via the gramophone player of the old lady who lived next door.

His father, a jazz afficionado, was somewhat dismissive of classical music, but Philip had been bitten by the bug.

He went on to study singing with Joy Mammen at the Royal Academy of Music and has enjoyed an illustrious singing career: he made his solo debut with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, has appeared on two national tours with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and sung solos with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the City of London Sinfonia, among others.

As artistic director of London Festival Opera, Philip is well-versed (well-chorused?) in creating programmes for presentations in theatres – his A Passion For Puccini, for example, selected pieces to tell the story of Puccini’s life.

I Lived For Art is a little different, and more ambitious. During the Second World War, the Germans created a number of Jewish holding ghettos where the inhabitants lived in constant threat of being sent on to concentration camps. Here, Jewish musicians and singers were forced to perform for their captors in the hope of saving their lives.

Some of these original performances are available on YouTube and they’re a powerful, poignant, difficult watch. The Germans filmed them at the time to try and claim the ghettos were reasonable places to live. When the Red Cross visited to inspect the camps, performances were put on to persuade them that all was okay.

Philip’s play, which takes its name from the English translation of Tosca’s Vissi d’Arte, centres around the story of Jakob, an incarcerated opera professional and Klieger, the camp commandant. The drama is then interspersed with pieces by Purcell, Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi, many with their own resonance to the situation the singers would face themselves in.

I asked Philip whether as a singer he would have been able to perform in such circumstances. “I think survival would come in,” he explained, “and also escapism”.

There’s one scene where Jakob says, “We’re being transported through that great music, rather than on the train”.

I Lived For Art is at Salisbury Guildhall on Thursday October 28.