General News


Festival of Sacred Music: Opening Events


IMG_0021.JPGMayfield Salisbury’s 2014-2015 Festival of Sacred Music opening concert, which took place on Friday 12 September, was extremely well attended. Over 200 people gathered in the beautiful sanctuary and were richly rewarded by a superb evening of sacred music performed by Mayfield Festival Singers directed by Walter Thomson, Dr John Willmett on the organ and the Caritas Strings.

The delightful programme brought us music from every century from the thirteenth to the twenty-first. It opened with Deo confitemini qui sua, a Mediaeval motet, led us through works by Purcell, Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and many others, and finished with Allelujah, a piece specially written for the concert by the contemporary composer Stuart Murray Mitchell. The evening was enhanced by the very informative programme notes, which not only detailed all the texts in both their original languages and English translation, but also gave biographical notes on each composer and an outline of the form each piece would take. IMG_0029.JPGAs our minister, Revd. Scott S McKenna, wrote in the introduction ‘For many, music bears the soul to a greater depth, leaving behind the shortcomings of reason in order that we may encounter the Holy, the numinous, in the intimacy of our inner self.’ This fact was borne out by the stillness and silence which filled the church as each piece ended. Only at the end did rapturous applause ring out and the performers receive our gratitude and praise.

Afterwards wine was served in the adjoining hall where the talk was all of the beauty of the evening as people mingled with friends old and new.


The comments received afterwards by the organisers show just how successful the evening was! Here are just a few -

‘A delightful and moving concert, where the Laudate Dominum alone was worth the journey and merited an outstanding ovation.’

‘There was such a buzz about the place and so many happy smiling faces.   It was a joy to behold!   I thought the Caritas players were super kids - imagine giving up your Friday night at that age to play for us.’ 

‘It was just an inspiration.  The programme was so well thought through, the notes were just the right amount, the programme was beautifully designed, the front & back of house so well organised ….but the singing and playing were outstanding.’

‘The opening concert was simply WONDERFUL – the music took me to a place of complete PEACE.  Beautiful voices and amazing orchestra. Thank you.’ 


IMG_8311.JPGThe concert was followed by Morning Worship on Sunday, 14 September, at which the choir and choral group sang the introit Sacerdotes Domini by William Byrd and the anthem Blessed be the God and Father by S.S.Wesley. The Order of Service contained explanatory notes on these works, as it will at all our Sunday morning services throughout the festival. Our choir master, Walter Thomson, states that ‘Music in worship is enormously important. Music is unique, it communicates with the whole person at different levels – with the intellect, the emotions, the senses, the body. It helps us to articulate our faith.’


Then on Sunday evening, 14 September, the distinguished musicologist, Professor Jonathan Wainwright ofP1020477.JPG York University, gave a fascinating lecture on Music and Worship in England and Scotland in the Seventeenth Century. For those who missed it we hope to have it available here shortly. As Professor Wainwright explained, the seventeenth century was a time of constant change and historical turmoil, with the religious allegiance of those in power altering repeatedly as James I and VI, was followed by Charles I, Cromwell and the Commonwealth, Charles II, James II and finally William and Mary. This made the lives of those who worked in the field of music, not only composers like William Byrd and Henry Purcell, but also the many hundreds of copyists and musicians, very uncertain and subject to rapid changes in circumstances. He explained that a great deal of research still needs to be done to explore this fully, but the overview we were given, amply illustrated by listening to excerpts from the music of the period, provided an engrossing story. For example, few in the audience had realised the huge influence on music of Charles I’s Roman Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV of France, nor that in the Commonwealth IMG_8319.JPGperiod, although sacred music was no longer performed liturgically in churches, it continued to be used widely for private domestic devotion.  Professor Wainwright’s title for his lecture: ‘Living Through Troubled Times’ was thus particularly apt! Afterwards Professor Wainwright was happy to meet with members of the audience both in the sanctuary and also in the adjoining hall, where wine was again served, answering questions and discussing his lecture further.


Further photographs of the events can be found in the Gallery


The next events in our Festival of Sacred Music can be found in the programme brochure available here. All events are free, but some are ticketed.





Contact Information

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church,
18 West Mayfield,

0131 667 1522 / 0780 801 1234

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Scottish Charity Number: SC000785


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