Sound of Wells 2024

Sound of Wells 2024

Monday 6 to Sunday 12 May 2024


A world-class festival of classical music in England’s smallest city, celebrating the myriad talents of Wells’ many musicians with a music quiz, silent film with organ, Bach’s St John Passion and much, much more! 

Welcome to the Festival

Building on the resounding success of last year’s festival, Sound of Wells returns in 2024 with a magnificent programme of events taking place from 6–12 May. With recitals, services, a music quiz, a silent movie, and concerts given by internationally-acclaimed musicians, this year’s festival will celebrate the talents of many musicians from across our community.

This year’s festival coincides with the arrival of Peter Walker’s striking artwork Peace Doves, on display in the Nave of the Cathedral from Friday 26 April – Saturday 8 June. Through music, reflection, and prayer, several festival events will focus on the power of peace, love, and reconciliation to transform a broken world.

2024 is also a year of significant musical anniversaries. Over the week we will mark the anniversaries of composers Anton Bruckner, Gustav Holst, Frank Martin, and Charles Villiers Stanford, hearing some of their best-loved sacred music.

The high point of the festival will be a performance of J.S. Bach’s visceral and dramatic St John Passion first performed 300 years ago in Leipzig in 1724. To perform this extraordinary work, Wells Cathedral Choir, our flagship musical ensemble, will join forces with period instrument orchestra Réjouissance and star soloists Kieran White and Neal Davies. This is certainly a concert not to be missed!

Combining the old with the new, the festival will also showcase the exceptional talents of student composers at Wells Cathedral School with a composers concert and the world premiere of a new work for choir, organ and saxophone by Eva Donoghue.

Whether you consider Wells Cathedral a second home, or you are yet to encounter this unique place, Sound of Wells has something for all to enjoy. I hope that you will feel a warm welcome here, and be inspired by the joy and beauty of the music on offer.

Alexander Hamilton, Festival Director.

What’s On

Compline by Candlelight

Monday 6 May, 21.00–21.45
Admission: £ FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Join Wells Cathedral Chamber Choir for an ancient service of peace and reflection the end of the day, with choral music to soothe the soul. 

Wells Cathedral School Composers: Composing for Peace

Tuesday 7 May, 13.05–14.00
Admission: £ FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Enjoy a lunchtime programme of chamber works and a theme of peace, written by up-and-coming student composers from Wells Cathedral School. 

Choral Evensong for Peace 

Tuesday 7 May, 17.15–18.00
Admission: £ FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Choral Evensong, sung by the world-renowned Cathedral Choir with guest saxophonist Megan Glover. The service will include the premiere of a new work by Wells Cathedral School student Eva Donoghue.

Sound of Wells Music Quiz 

Tuesday 7 May, 19.00–21.30 @ The Loft Café 
Admission: £10pp (≤6 per team) limited spaces available; in aid of Wells Cathedral available to book soon via Eventbrite

Think you know your musical onions? Join members of the Cathedral Music Foundation for a cranial assault course through every era of music— from Lully to Lizzo! Snacks provided, with drinks available to purchase throughout the event.


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William Drakett: Beyond the Sea 

Wednesday 8 May, 13.05–14.00
Admission: Included with entry to the Cathedral; retiring collection

Baritone William Drakett and pianist Margaret Marinkovic join with musicians from Wells Cathedral School to perform a programme of American art song, with works by Charles Ives and Barber’s atmospheric Dover Beach, written on the eve of World War II.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925): Silent Film with Organ

Wednesday 8 May, 20.00–21.45
Admission: £10; available via Eventbrite; In aid of The Friends of Wells Cathedral Grand Organ Appeal

World-renowned organist Dr David Bednall returns for another musical entertainment from the organ console with this macabre 1925 horror starring Lon Chaney in his most famous role.


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Baroque Vocal Masterclass with Robin Blaze 

Thursday 9 May, 13.05–14.30
Admission: FREE (limited spaces); available to book soon; retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Celebrated countertenor Robin Blaze offers an insight into the world of early music performance with Choristers and vocal specialists from Wells Cathedral School.

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Festal Eucharist on Ascension Day 

Thursday 9 May, 17.15–18.15
Admission: FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Join us for a Festal Eucharist sung by the Cathedral Choir, to feature Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir in his 50th anniversary year, and music by Stanford and Finzi.  

An Evening of Concertos (Cedars Hall event)

Thursday 9 May, 19.00–21.00 @ Cedars Hall
Admission: £10 / Under 18s FREE; available via

The final of Wells Cathedral School’s concerto competition showcases the very best of their young musicians as six senior pupils get the chance to show off their musicianship and virtuosity.

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Primary Outreach Concert: Singing for Peace  

Friday 10 May, 13.05–14.00
Admission: FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

Enjoy a peace-themed performance from the Cathedral’s youngest musicians, taking part in the primary musical outreach programme, directed by Alex Jenkins. 

Violin Master: Rachel Podger (Cedars Hall event)

Friday 10 May, 19.00–21.00 @ Cedars Hall
Admission: £20 / Under 18s FREE; available via

Acclaimed as one of the world’s finest baroque violinists, Rachel Podger showcases a unique programme of music by Bach and Tartini plus other 18th-century masterpieces for solo violin. 

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J.S. Bach St John Passion 

Saturday 11 May, 19.00–21.30
Admission: £16–£32; available via Eventbrite

Wells Cathedral Choir
Réjouissance Ensemble
Kieran White Evangelist
Neal Davies Christus
Alexander Hamilton Director 

Few works come close to the extraordinary emotive power of Bach’s St John Passion, which tells the final hours of Jesus’ life with gripping dramatic intensity. The Cathedral Choir is joined by period instrument ensemble Réjouissance and acclaimed soloists Kieran White and Neal Davies for this special 300th anniversary performance in the sublime setting of Wells Cathedral. 

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Cathedral Eucharist celebrating Somerset Day 

Sunday 12 May, 10.30–11.45
Admission: FREE (no booking required); retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral

The Cathedral Choir and Chamber Choir join forces for this special Cathedral Eucharist on Somerset Day, featuring works by local composers or inspired by our beautiful county. 

Festival Evensong: Charles Villiers Stanford Centenary

Sunday 12 May, 15.00–16.00
Admission: FREE (no booking required); retiring collection 

The Cathedral Choir round off this year’s festival with celebratory service of Choral Evensong, paying homage to the legacy of composer C. V. Stanford in his 100th anniversary year. 

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