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York Minster seeking three new girl choristers

York Minster is searching for three school girls, currently in Year 3, to audition for their world-famous choir. Children are not expected to have formal singing experience, but a love of singing is very much essential to the role. If their audition is successful, children will receive a subsidised place at St Peter’s School, the choir school for York Minster since September 2020.

Choral music is one of the glories of York Minster: the choir, widely regarded as one of the finest cathedral choirs in the country, can trace its heritage back to 627AD and, more recently, has performed for King Charles III as well as featuring on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Alongside high profile performances, choristers also have the chance to tour internationally, make new friends and sing alongside renowned musicians in the stunning setting of York Minster.

As well as a world-class musical education under the tutelage of York Minster’s Director of Music, Robert Sharpe, choristers receive an outstanding education at St Peter’s School, one of the oldest schools in the world and winner of the Times Education Supplement’s Independent School of the Year 2021. The Chapter of York, York Minster’s governing body, provides a substantial scholarship for each chorister towards school fees, with additional means-tested bursaries potentially increasing the level of funding to 100%.

The auditions held earlier this year resulted in a full complement of boy choristers, but three roles remain unfilled for the girls. Robert Sharpe, who is keen to make sure that the girls remain at full strength, said:

“We have three spaces still available for new girl choristers and I would urge parents with a musical daughter to get in touch. Being a chorister is a life-changing experience with focus on team skills, concentration, well-being and fun.”

Commenting on the opportunity, Jeremy Walker, Head Master of St Peter’s School, York said:

“I encourage any families of a Year 3 girl interested in this wonderful opportunity to apply to become a chorister. They would be joining an exceptional cohort of children, experiencing a lot of fun and friendship within the choir combined with an outstanding education at St Peter’s. I have first-hand appreciation of the incredible experiences this provides, as a former chorister parent myself, so would urge families with a child who loves to sing to consider getting in touch.”


About the 2024 Chorister Auditions

Families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Auditions for prospective choristers will be organised when applications are received and will be held at St Peter’s School, Clifton, York YO30 6AB.

For more details, contact Sara Bath, Admissions Officer, on 01904 527391 or email s.bath@stpetersyork.org.uk, or visit York Minster Choristers | St Peter’s School

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York Minster receives generous donation from Garfield Weston Foundation

York Minster is delighted to announce the exceptionally generous support of the Garfield Weston Foundation towards its new Centre of Excellence for Heritage Skills and Estate Management.

The Foundation’s grant of £500,000 is the largest philanthropic gift granted by a charitable foundation towards the Minster’s work to date and is a much-valued contribution towards the ongoing fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence.

The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family founded grant maker that gives money to support a wide range of charities across the UK, in total donating around £90m each year.

York Minster’s new Centre for Excellence will open later this year and will bring multiple benefits, including improving the productivity of restoration work; helping to retain traditional craft skills and practitioners; supporting young people in the early stages of their careers; and providing dedicated residential facilities for apprentices and trainees.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said: “This incredibly generous donation by the Foundation will help hugely towards realising our vision for the Centre of Excellence, in turn encouraging national and global learning and knowledge sharing of traditional heritage crafts and cutting-edge technologies.

“The Centre is crucial for helping us to secure the environmental, financial and heritage sustainability of York Minster for many years to come and the Trustees’ support has played a key part in enabling this to happen.”

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation said “We are delighted to support the state of the art training facilities and affordable trainee accommodation provided at the York Minster Centre for Excellence. In a time of dwindling numbers of heritage craft practitioners learning the skills required to preserve and maintain beautiful historic buildings such as York Minster, we are delighted to help support this important project.  We look forward to seeing the Centre develop”

The Garfield Weston Foundation’s donation has significantly helped towards the £2m fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence. All contributions towards this exciting project or the Minster’s ongoing conservation and restoration work are gratefully received as we near our final target.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit our dedicated website section at Centre for Excellence or contact Cate Birch, Head of Fundraising at cateb@yorkminster.org.

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Services and events at York Minster to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1984 fire

In the early hours of Monday 9 July 1984, York Minster was struck by lightning and suffered one of the worst cathedral fires of modern times. The damage that was done in just a few hours took over 4 years to be rebuilt and restored.

The cathedral has today announced a special programme of events and services to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the blaze, remembering the devastation caused and giving thanks for the dedicated and talented individuals who helped to rebuild and restore the magnificent building we see today.

The Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York, said: “Like every Christian church, York Minster stands as a sign of hope and new life, for that is the central message of the Gospel.

“In the summer of 1984, people watched in horror as flames consumed the roof of the South Transept, but (not for the first time in its existence) the cathedral survived this fierce fire, and continues to offer that message of resurrection within and well beyond the city, diocese and county we are called to serve.

“I hope you will join us this year as we mark this significant anniversary.”

The full programme is as follows:


A Service of Commemoration to mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1984 Fire
Tuesday 9 July, 5pm 

To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1984 fire, York Minster will be hosting a service of Choral Evensong which will include special prayers and readings, as well as a sermon by the Archbishop of York.

The Choir of York Minster, led by Robert Sharpe, Director of Music, will perform a selection of reflective music including Bernard Rose’s responses; Psalms 47, 48, 49 for the 9th evening; Herbert Sumsion’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in A; and Hymn to the Creator of Light by John Rutter. Ben Morris, Assistant Director of Music, will play Cecilia McDowall’s Sacred and Hallowed Fire on the cathedral’s Grand Organ.

All are welcome to attend, no booking is required.

Sightseeing activities

New exhibition – Out of the Ashes
Saturday 29 June – 1 June 2025

Discover the story behind the 1984 fire that threatened to destroy York Minster through a new exhibition – Out of the Ashes – commemorating the 40th anniversary of the blaze.

The exhibition journeys through the dramatic events of 9 July 1984, when the roof of the South Transept was struck by lightning. It details the heroic rescue efforts, clean-up operation and four-year restoration using eye witness accounts.

See fire damaged furniture that survived the blaze and images from York Minster’s archive, including original drawings for six roof bosses designed by Blue Peter competition winners. Visitors will also have the chance to explore other major fires in York Minster’s history and find out more about restoration and conservation today.

Entry to the exhibition is included with a general admission ticket.

New trail – On This Spot
Saturday 29 June – Saturday 30 November 2024

Stand in the footsteps of those who saw the 1984 fire and its aftermath by following a new digital-visual trail – On this Spot.

Scan QR codes placed in and around the cathedral to unlock dramatic archive photos revealing the shocking events of 9 July 1984. Each stop on the trail will include chance for reflection and prayer.

Entry to the trail is included with a general admission ticket.

Fire anniversary guided tours
Saturday 29 June – Monday 30 September 2024

Throughout the summer months, York Minster’s expert volunteer tour guides will explore the cathedral’s rich history, with a special focus on the 1984 fire. Visitors can choose from a York Minster Guided Tour, Stained Glass Tour, or Family-Friendly Discovery Tour.

Guided tours are included with a general admission ticket, subject to availability.


Saturday 19 October – Saturday 2 November.

Experience York Minster in a new light this autumn when the cathedral is illuminated with PHOENIX, a brand-new sound and light projection.

The story of the 1984 fire is not just one of damage caused to one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, but also a story of bravery, resilience, and determination to rebuild. PHOENIX will commemorate the bravery of those that responded to the fire, celebrating the resilience of York Minster and the people of York through their own words, in the very place where it happened.

PHOENIX is a major new projection mapping and sound installation by award-winning artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid which will transform the nave of York Minster. The installation is bespoke, having been specially created to bring the cathedral’s unique architecture and history to life. Ashton and Monid also created ‘Northern Lights’ in 2019 and ‘Platinum and Light’ in 2022, two spectacular installations which attracted tens of thousands of people to the cathedral.

The events will help raise funds for the continuing restoration of the cathedral’s fabric. York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, but with the current building dating from the 13th century, it is a fragile masterpiece which needs constant care.

PHOENIX will open on Saturday 19 October and run each evening until Saturday 2 November.

Tickets priced at £7.50 will go on sale on Tuesday 9 July via yorkminster.org.

Activities for schools

Poetry on Fire
Designed for pupils in Key Stages 1 and 2, ‘Poetry on Fire’ is an interactive two-hour journey to discover the three major fires of York Minster.

Pupils will follow a fire tour around York Minster and enter the world of arson, accident and an act of nature. They will collect fiery vocabulary to compose a collaborative class composition, and step into the shoes of key characters and roleplay the fearless firefighters before reciting their rhythmic rhymes.

Traitor on Trial
Designed for pupils in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, ‘Traitor on Trial’ is an immersive two-hour experience exploring the world of Jonathan Martin. Who was he? Why did he set fire to the Minster? What did he take with him from the scene of the crime and what did the witnesses say about his character?

Pupils will study the sources and evidence to decide what should happen to this complicated and intriguing character. They will take part in a mock trial to decide Jonathan Martin’s fate.

Both workshops will be available from Monday 3 June as part of York Minster’s Learning Programme for schools.

The York Minster Shops

York Minster Firewood Pens – last chance to buy!
Take home a piece of York Minster’s history with our popular firewood pens.

The handcrafted biro and fountain pens are turned from 13th century oak timber recovered from the South Transept of York Minster after the 1984 fire. Made by a local York craftsperson, each pen comes complete with a Chapter of York Authentication Certificate and presentation box.

Limited stock available. When they’re gone, they’re gone!

The pens are available to buy instore or online via shop.yorkminster.org

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Generous grant from Benefact Trust awarded to apprentice joiner at York Minster

A grant of £71,726 has been awarded to York Minster to support the costs of Benefact Trust apprentice joiner, William Dixon.

York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, at the centre of Christianity since the 7th century. It has a rich tradition of heritage crafts, with one of the oldest and largest workforces and stoneyards in the country. York Minster was built for the glory of God, with every aspect of this ancient building from exquisite, handcrafted stone to an unrivalled collection of medieval stained glass telling the story of Jesus Christ.

Apprentices have enjoyed the chance to train with the cathedral’s skilled craftspeople since medieval times and today’s trainees learn across a complex and ongoing cycle of repair, restoration and conservation.

With the continued challenge of young people entering the heritage skills sector and a rapidly aging workforce, the Benefact Trust apprentice joiner will help reverse this trend by offering sustainable and much needed experience in the craft of heritage joinery.

During 2024, Will’s work will include working on joinery across the Minster’s estate, understanding the opportunities and challenges within listed buildings and how to overcome them. He will also be one of the first apprentices to benefit from York Minster’s new Centre of Excellence for Heritage Skills and Estate Management where he will use cutting edge technology and facilities, interacting with heritage professionals from around the world and inspiring young visitors to pursue a career in this field.

Alexander McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct said: “Apprentices are the lifeblood of the Minster’s continuing work and development and we are absolutely delighted to welcome Will as our new Benefact Trust apprentice joiner. The Trust’s generous support for heritage skills for Christian buildings enables the training of the next generation of heritage crafts professionals who will work on one of the most iconic buildings in the country. We look forward very much to seeing Will’s experience and skills grow and to working with him on many different joinery projects. We are very grateful to the Trust for their investment in our work and the future of heritage skills”.

Paul Playford, Senior Grants and Operations Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “It is a privilege to support William’s apprenticeship at York Minster. This is not only a fantastic opportunity for him to gain skills and experience in one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world; it is another talented individual securing the future of the cathedral.

“This latest grant is in addition to funding we awarded last year, which is helping to develop York Minster’s Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills and Estate Management. We’re delighted to be able to support this innovative project which is inspiring the next generation of heritage crafters.”

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Top organists set to pull out all the stops for summer recital series at York Minster

York Minster’s popular organ recitals return this summer with seven internationally renowned musicians taking centre stage in one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals.

The summer recitals will take place on Thursday evenings from 18 July to 29 August, beginning at 7pm. The first six performances will feature world renowned organists including Naji Hakim, prolific organist, composer and improviser; Katelyn Emerson, American virtuoso and scholar; Thomas Trotter, recipient of The Queen’s Medal for Music; and Gordon Stewart, a performer, teacher and conductor who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for services to music. The guest soloists will be joined by York Minster’s own talented musicians – Robert Sharpe, Director of Music, and Benjamin Morris, Assistant Director of Music, both experienced organists performing in the UK and abroad – for six nights of spectacular organ music.

The seventh performance will see star soloist Roger Sayer perform Hans Zimmer’s epic Oscar-nominated Interstellar suite. Sayer, who featured on the film’s official soundtrack as the organ soloist, will bring Christopher Nolan’s dystopian masterpiece to life, as well as performing intergalactic favourites from A Space Odyssey and Holst’s The Planets.

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming you to the 2024 organ recital series with a great line-up of guest artists joining us to showcase York Minster’s renowned Grand Organ in this third series of concerts since its refurbishment by Harrison & Harrison.”

Tickets for the recitals are available HERE priced at £15. A combined season ticket price of £75 for all seven recitals is also available, as well as a concession ticket for under-27s priced at £7.50.


Organist details:

Thursday 18 July, 7pm – Thomas Trotter.

Thomas Trotter is one of Britain’s most widely admired musicians, reflected in Her Majesty The Queen awarding him The Queen’s Medal for Music on St Cecilia’s Day 2020. He has performed in Berlin’s “Philharmonie”, the “Gewandhaus” in Leipzig, the “Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam, the “Musikverein” and the “Konzerthaus” in Vienna and London’s Royal Festival Hall. He has played inaugural concerts in places such as Princeton University Chapel USA, Auckland Town Hall in New Zealand and the Royal Albert Hall London. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society award for Best Instrumentalist in 2002, and in 2012 he was named International Performer of the Year by the New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In 2016 he was awarded the Medal of the Royal College of Organists for his achievements in organ-playing.

Thomas Trotter was appointed Birmingham City Organist in 1983 in succession to Sir George Thalben-Ball, celebrating his 800th concert in February 2020. Earlier in his career he was organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, winning the First Prize at the St Albans International Organ Competition in his final year. He has received Honorary Doctorates from Birmingham City University and Birmingham University, and in 2022 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Music.

Alongside his regular recitals in Birmingham, Thomas Trotter tours on four continents and plays at many international festivals such as Bath, Salzburg, and the BBC Proms. He is an active recording artist, appearing most recently on the King’s College Cambridge label playing the complete works of Maurice Duruflé. Current engagements include tours to China and Australia, and organ inaugurations in Finland, Switzerland and the UK.


Thursday 25 July, 7pm – Robert Sharpe.

Robert Sharpe succeeded Dr Philip Moore as Director of Music at York Minster in 2008, being only the fifth holder of that position since 1897. He previously held positions at Truro Cathedral; Lichfield Cathedral; Exeter College, Oxford; and St Albans Abbey.

His work at York Minster centres around the daily choral tradition, with its two treble lines (one each of boys and girls) and the famous Minster Grand Organ. In addition, he performs frequently as an organ soloist. He has developed the profile of the Choir of York Minster through recordings, broadcasts and the daily Evensong service. The daily service has gained a reputation both at home and, since livestreaming began as a response to the Covid pandemic, abroad, for the chanting of the psalms and for the breadth of repertoire performed. Robert seeks not only to include the greatest works of the past, but also regularly to commission new works, as well as to champion the work of women composers.

On Easter Day 2021, the Grand Organ was rededicated by the Archbishop of York after a significant (and groundbreaking) reconstruction by the Durham firm of Harrison & Harrison.  This sought to recapture the character of the instrument, as left by Sir Edward Bairstow and Arthur Harrison in 1931. The results have already attracted considerable interest in the world of organ building and are widely acclaimed.

Robert has a keen interest in liturgy and music and the interplay between them, and also in interiors and antique clocks and furniture. He holds fellowships of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal College of Organists.  In 2008, before moving to York, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians and awarded the 2008 Cornwhylen Cross by the Cornish Gorsedd “for an outstanding contribution to religious music in Cornwall”.

From 2019 to 2021, he served as President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association. He is currently serving as President of the Incorporated Association of Organists.


Thursday 1 August, 7pm – Katelyn Emerson.

Organist Katelyn Emerson, praised for her ‘loving approach [and] technical excellence, with great sense for lyricism and beauty’ (orgelnieuws.nl), performs throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, showcasing repertoire spanning the 14th—21st centuries and presenting lectures on subjects ranging from organ interpretation and healthy playing techniques, to performance studies and empirical music analysis. Recent and upcoming concert venues include Walt Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Benaroya Hall (Seattle), West Point (New York), Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavík, Iceland), Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid), Kurhaus Wiesbaden (Germany), and Musashino Civic Cultural Hall (Japan).

Katelyn is laureate of organ competitions on three continents, including the American Guild of Organists’ (AGO) National Young Artists, Musashino International Organ Competition (Japan), International Organ Competition “Pierre de Manchicourt” (France), and Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition (Russia). One of The Diapason’s inaugural ‘20 under 30 – Class of 2015’, Katelyn was featured alongside exceptional colleagues for “superior accomplishments… and innovative thinking.” She is regularly invited to adjudicate international playing competitions and to join the faculties of organ academies in France, the UK, the USA, and Canada, as well as to present workshops and concerts at conventions in North America and abroad. She additionally volunteers with charitable organisations such as Scotland’s Sowne of Organe that help increase public awareness of the cultural and technological significance of historic and newly built instruments. Katelyn’s CD recordings, Evocations (2017) and Inspirations (2018), appear on the Pro Organo label.

Katelyn holds degrees from the Musikhochschule Stuttgart (MA Orgel), supported by a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD), University of Cambridge (MPhil Music), supported by a 1+3 ESRC/UKRI Studentship, Oberlin College and Conservatory (BMus Organ/BA French), and Colorado State University (Certificate in Occupational Ergonomics). As recipient of a J. William Fulbright Study/Research Grant, she additionally studied en perfectionnement at the Conservatoire de Toulouse.


Thursday 8 August, 7pm – Benjamin Morris.

Benjamin Morris is Assistant Director of Music at York Minster. In this role, he plays for services and accompanies the choir in the Minster’s daily cycle of music, in concerts, tours, recordings and broadcasts, and assists in the training of the choristers. Prior to this, he was Organ Scholar and then Assistant Organist at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating with First-class honours in Music. Before starting university, Ben spent a year as Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral. An experienced conductor and choir trainer, Ben regularly conducts York Minster Choir and is Musical Director of the York-based Chapter House Choir. Ben has spent time as Acting Director of Music both at York Minster and Jesus College, Cambridge.

A prizewinning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, Benjamin Morris is active as an organ soloist, accompanist and continuo player. He has performed as organ soloist under Sir Roger Norrington, Howard Shelley, Paul McCreesh, and Sir Stephen Cleobury, and has played organ and harpsichord continuo alongside His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia. He studied organ with Gordon Stewart, Colin Walsh, David Briggs and Richard Pinel, and harpsichord with Terence Charlston.


Thursday 15 August, 7pm – Naji Hakim.

Naji Subhy Paul Irénée Hakim was born in Beirut, 31 October, 1955. He studied with Jean Langlais (organ), Evelyne Aïello (conducting), and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris – classes of Roger Boutry (harmony), Jean-Claude Henry (counterpoint), Marcel Bitsch (fugue), Rolande Falcinelli (organ), Jacques Castérède (analysis) and Serge Nigg (orchestration), where he was awarded seven first prizes.

He is a licentiate teacher in organ from Trinity College of Music in London and won ten first prizes at international organ and composition competitions. In 1991 he was awarded the Prix André Caplet from the Académie des Beaux-Arts and in 2009 the Premier Prix du Concours de Musique Sacrée de la Cathédrale de Monaco.

At first organist of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Paris from 1985 until 1993, he then became organist of l’église de la Trinité, in succession to Olivier Messiaen (1993-2008). He was professor of musical analysis at the Conservatoire National de Région de Boulogne-Billancourt (1988-2019). He is visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications in Paris, member of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae in Rome and Doctor honoris causa of the Pontifical University Saint-Esprit of Kaslik, Lebanon.

In 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI awarded Naji Hakim The Augustae crucis insigne pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, for his excellent commitment and work for the benefit of the Church and the Holy Father.

His works include instrumental music (organ, flute, bassoon, horn, trumpet, harp, guitar, violin, viola, cello, piano), symphonic music (Les Noces de l’Agneau, Hymne de l’Univers, Ouverture Libanaise, Påskeblomst, Augsburger Symphonie, five organ concertos, a violin concerto, a piano concerto), and vocal music (oratorio Saul de Tarse, cantata Phèdre, Magnificat and four masses).

Naji Hakim is married to Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet, organist, composer and musicologist. They have two children: Katia-Sofía, poet, pianist and musicologist, and Jean-Paul, lawyer, pianist and composer.


Thursday 22 August, 7pm – Gordon Stewart.

Gordon Stewart was born in Dundee and after studies in Manchester and Geneva with Gillian Weir, Eric Chadwick and Lionel Rogg, was for 15 years a cathedral organist, first in Manchester then in Blackburn. For 30 years he was Borough Organist of Kirklees where he played regular concerts on the Father Willis organ in Huddersfield Town Hall. He is now Organist Emeritus.

He has recorded on organs in the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa on the Priory, Dolcan and Lammas labels and has played concertos with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North and Orchestra Victoria. For over 20 years he broadcast regularly as organist and conductor on BBC radio and television, chiefly as a musical director on Daily Service, Sunday Half Hour and Songs of Praise.

Gordon’s repertoire is large and covers all the major schools of organ composition. He is well-known as a teacher, and after several years as Senior Organ Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, was one of the organ teachers at Cambridge University, teaching the organ scholars at, amongst others, King’s, St John’s and Jesus Colleges. He has appeared as visiting tutor at courses for the Royal College of Organists, Oundle Organ Week, Gothenburg Organ Academy and Shenandoah Church Music Institute in Virginia.

Gordon has played concerts throughout the United Kingdom including Celebrity Concerts at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, throughout Europe, and in the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

He is a former president of the Incorporated Association of Organists. He has been awarded honorary fellowships by the Royal College of Organists, the Royal School of Church Music and the Guild of Church Musicians, and an honorary doctorate by the University of Huddersfield. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the King’s first Birthday Honours.


Thursday 29 August, 7pm – Roger Sayer.

Virtuosic and versatile, international organ star Roger Sayer was chosen by Hans Zimmer to create the prominent organ role for Christopher Nolan’s gripping film INTERSTELLAR. It was recorded at Temple Church, London in 2014, where Roger was Director of Music. In 2024 he marks the 10th anniversary of its massive global impact with Interstellar 10. He shares his experience of working with two living geniuses of the cinema before playing his own version of the soundtrack, which no other organist is able to do. Performances in Australia and several European countries have already received enthusiastic acclaim. One listener observed ‘if Hans Zimmer is the heart of Interstellar, then you, Sir, are its soul’. The programme will include other space-related music including movements from Holst’s The Planets. A thrilling late-night event not to be missed!

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Landmark Sermons for Holy Week by Rhidian Brook

‘Notes on an Execution’ (Reports from the last days of Jesus)

Landmark Sermons for Holy Week by Rhidian Brook

In a special sermon series for Holy Week at York Minster, award-winning writer and broadcaster, Rhidian Brook, will lead us through the last days of Jesus.

Beginning on Palm Sunday (24 March), Rhidian will be giving a sermon on each day of Holy Week. He will cover the events from Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem through to The Last Supper, via Jesus’s brilliant and confrontational teaching in The Temple. On Good Friday (29 March), Rhidian will give two meditations and a main sermon on the crucifixion. He will complete the series with a final sermon on Easter Eve (30 March).

Rhidian said: “I want us to follow Jesus from his arrival in Jerusalem to his execution, to be contemporary to the moment as reported, by trying to imagine the events unfolding as though for the first time, in real time, without relying on the after-the-event wisdom that we carry.

“I want to help us imagine being a follower, not always knowing what comes next, or how it ends, and without possessing the weight or comfort of the theological or cultural understanding that has gathered the far side of history – and the far side of His Story. I am putting my trust in the gospel accounts – Mark in particular – and any inspiration that the Holy Spirit may give.”

The Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York said: “I am enormously excited to welcome Rhidian to York Minster. For a quarter of a century, he has inspired many people around the country with his Thoughts for the Day on Radio 4, and we are uniquely privileged that he will be helping to bring the events of Holy Week to life in this sermon series.”

All are welcome to attend Rhidian’s sermons, which will be given at the following services:

Sunday 24 March – Palm Sunday – ‘Coronation’
10.30am: Procession with donkeys followed by Eucharist for Palm Sunday

Monday 25 March – ‘Confrontation’
12:30pm: Holy Communion
7.30pm: Compline

Tuesday 26 March – ‘Interrogation’
7.30pm: Compline

Wednesday 27 March – ‘Anointing’
12:30pm: Holy Communion
7.30pm: Compline

Thursday 28 March – Maundy Thursday – ‘Parting’
7pm: Eucharist of the Last Supper for Maundy Thursday

Friday 29 March – Good Friday – Three Meditations: ‘Noise’, ‘Silence’, ‘Execution’
12noon: The Three Hours’ Devotion
1.30pm: The Liturgy of Good Friday

Saturday 30 March – Easter Eve – ‘Encounter’
8pm: The Vigil and First Eucharist of Easter.

Biographical details – Rhidian Brook
Rhidian Brook is an award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film. His first novel, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones (1996) won several prizes, including the Somerset Maugham Award and was adapted for a film starring Jonathan Pryce. His third novel, The Aftermath (2013) was an international bestseller and translated into 25 languages; he co-wrote the film adaptation that starred Keira Knightley. He wrote an original screenplay for the BBC drama, Mr Harvey Lights A Candle, starring Timothy Spall, was a writer on two seasons of Silent Witness and wrote the original screenplay of the Pathe film, Africa United.  He is currently adapting his most recent novel – The Killing of Butterfly Joe – for film. He has been a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day for 20 years. A collection of his Thoughts, entitled Godbothering, was published in March 2020.

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New Festival of Faith and Music to launch at York Minster

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell will give a keynote speech at the Church Times Festival of Faith and Music, a new venture created in partnership with the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), that will be staged for the first time at York Minster from Friday 26 until Sunday 28 April.

The event is for clergy, music leaders, people involved in church music and anyone with a general interest in sacred music. The festival aims to be a source of celebration inspiration, encouragement, support, learning and resource.

Sarah Meyrick, Assistant Editor of the Church Times and co-director of the festival, said: “This is a brand-new venture, created in partnership with our RSCM colleagues. Our aim has been to create a stimulating programme of music and worship, talks and workshops, that celebrates church music in all its glories. We’re so delighted to be coming to York and are grateful to the Minster for their warm welcome.”

The festival programme includes workshops and discussions on subjects as diverse as how to take a church choir into the community, using music to support church engagement with dementia, caring for a pipe organ, choosing hymns, and growing the church younger through music. An exciting and engaging range of speakers will share their perspectives on the world of church and choral music. Festival goers will also be able to experience York Minster’s choral music tradition at special services and at Evensong during the weekend.

York Minster’s outgoing Precentor, Canon Victoria Johnson, who is soon to take up a new role as Dean of St John’s College Cambridge, will return for the festival to give a talk based on her new book, “On Voice:  Speech, Song, Silence: Human and Divine” an exploration of the power, sound and sonics of the human voice in sacred and divine music.  Commenting on the Festival of Faith and Music, Canon Victoria said:

“Music is central to the life of the church; we are a people who are called to sing!  It’s wonderful to be part of the very first Church Times Festival of Faith and Music at York Minster, a cathedral with a rich history of music making.  Clergy and musicians from all over the country will come together in York to celebrate music and song within the life of faith and discipleship and encourage one another in making music to the glory of God.”

Tickets are available for booking.  Discounts will be available to RSCM members and Church Times subscribers. For the full festival programme and to book go to: https://faithandmusic.hymnsam.co.uk

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Top soloists join Choir of York Minster for Handel’s Messiah

Four internationally renowned singers will join the Choir of York Minster for a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the cathedral’s stunning Nave on Saturday 16 March at 7pm.

Acclaimed soloists Elin Pritchard (Soprano), Victoria Simmonds (Alto), Daniel Norman (Tenor), and Morgan Pearse (Baritone), will perform the oratorio alongside the choir and an orchestra.

Composed by George Frideric Handel and first performed in Dublin in 1742, Messiah has since become one of the most famous and popular English oratorios of all time.  From the sorrowful tones of He Was Despised to the jubilant culmination of God’s triumph in the Hallelujah chorus, Handel’s Messiah explores the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ through spectacular choral and orchestral music.

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said: “It is an honour and a joy to perform this moving, poignant and timeless piece of music during the season of Lent and Easter which is when it was first performed almost 300 years ago.

“Once again, we are thrilled to have an outstanding line-up of world-class soloists for this year’s performance, including baritone Morgan Pearse who will be singing his fourth York Minster Messiah, Elin Pritchard (Soprano), Daniel Norman (Tenor) and Victoria Simmonds (Alto). The staging of this exceptional piece of music in York’s most awe-inspiring setting is an event not to be missed.”

The concert takes place on Saturday 16 March at 7pm with tickets priced from £5 to £30. Tickets are available HERE or by calling 01904 557200.

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A new Canon Precentor for York Minster

The Chapter of York today announced that the Archbishop of York has appointed The Reverend Canon James Milne, currently Canon Precentor at St Paul’s Cathedral, as the new Canon Precentor at York Minster. James succeeds The Reverend Canon Dr Victoria Johnson who is to become Dean of Chapel at St John’s College, Cambridge.

At York Minster, James will lead and oversee the cathedral’s Music and Liturgy Team. He will enable the planning and delivery of worship and music day-to-day, supporting the work of the Director of Music, the 40 choristers (20 boys and 20 girls) and 12 adult singers of the world-renowned Choir of York Minster. As a Residentiary Canon of the cathedral, James will also share in its governance and in the overall responsibility for its mission and ministry.

Commenting on his appointment, James said:

“I am deeply honoured to have been appointed Canon Precentor of York Minster and I am greatly looking forward to joining a dynamic community of faith and worship in such a beautiful setting, and to being part of the next chapter in the life of the Cathedral. Having grown up in Edinburgh I am excited to be moving to another historic city within the United Kingdom, which I have greatly enjoyed visiting over the years.”

Welcoming James to York Minster, The Very Reverend Dominic Barrington, Dean of York, said:

“We are very fortunate to be able to welcome James to York Minster as our new Canon Precentor. James has already had a distinguished ministry in cathedral worship in one of the country’s busiest cathedrals, and we are excited that he will bring the fruits of this experience to the Mother Church of the Diocese of York and the Northern Province of the Church of England. I am much looking forward to working with James during this next phase of the Minster’s life.”

James will be collated and installed in his new role during Evensong on Saturday 18 May by the Archbishop of York and the Dean of York.

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Half-term fun at York Minster

Families can enjoy a range of fun events and activities at York Minster this half-term, all designed to help young explorers discover the medieval Minster.

Highlights of the holiday programme will include ‘Peter and the Wolf’, a family-friendly organ concert with exciting narration, and ‘P is for Pilgrim’, a special trail inspired by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell’s new book.

Archbishop Stephen said, “I am delighted that York Minster is offering this half-term trail activity for children, parents and carers, linked to my book P is for Pilgrim. Our church buildings have so much to teach us about aspects of the Christian faith, symbols often hidden in plain sight. I hope that many will enjoy exploring this fantastic place of worship and leave not only with more knowledge but having encountered something of the person of Jesus Christ.”

Visitors to the York Minster Precinct will also be able to experience welcoming, outdoor spaces with wonderful views of the Minster: the revamped and replanted College Green and Minster Gardens, a peaceful garden oasis next door to the York Minster Refectory. The ever-popular Dean’s Park is also open throughout the year, perfect for winter walks and escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

York Minster’s full February half-term programme is as follows:


P is for Pilgrim
Saturday 10 – Sunday 18 February
Free with General Admission

Follow a special trail inspired by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell’s new book P is for Pilgrim. Suitable for children of all faiths and none, the trail is designed to help young adventurers spot Christian symbols and concepts as they explore the Minster and learn more about faith.


Peter and the Wolf
Tuesday 13 February, 7pm
Tickets now available

Join brave young Peter as he overcomes his fear of a big bad wolf in Sergei Prokofiev’s classic Peter and the Wolf played on York Minster’s recently-refurbished Grand Organ.

Hear captivating instrumental characterisations of Peter’s animal friends as a live feed of the cathedral’s marvellous organ being played by Ben Morris, Assistant Director of Music at York Minster, is shown on screens to the audience. Using special stops on the organ, Ben will guide young listeners through the sounds of this magnificent instrument. The performance will be narrated by Stuart Perry, the Silly History Boys’ silliest boy.

Tickets cost £8 for an adult and £6 for a child. A family ticket of £22 for two adults and two children is also available.


STEM Trails
Free with General Admission
Have you ever wondered how many panes of glass make up the Five Sisters Window? Look for shapes, patterns and colours as you journey around York Minster with specially designed STEM trails: Maths Quest, Light Quest and Nature Quest. Perfect to keep little brains busy!


Little Explorer Backpacks
Free with General Admission
Grab one of our ever-popular Little Explorer Backpacks filled with gadgets including maps, binoculars, and a magnifying glass to help your young adventurer explore the medieval Minster.


Undercroft Museum
Free with General Admission
Follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers as you discover 2000 years of history in our state-of-the-art Undercroft Museum. Delve beneath the cathedral’s floor and see archaeological finds from across the centuries through digital displays and interactive chambers.


Enjoy our green spaces
Relax in Dean’s Park, College Green or Minster Gardens and take in these peaceful outdoor spaces nestled in the heart of York.

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Following in the footsteps of women of faith: York Minster hosts annual Hilda’s Heirs festival

York Minster is marking International Women’s Day by hosting the annual Hilda’s Heirs festival on Saturday 9 March, in partnership with the Diocese of York and the Yorkshire North and East Methodist District.

The festival will begin at 10am with a service giving thanks for the role that women of faith, past and present, have on our lives. After the service, women in positions of leadership, including Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, will host a market place, offering conversations and activities to visitors.

Two specially designed trails will also be available throughout the day. ‘Women in the Minster’ will journey through the cathedral, following in the steps of women of faith who have played a part in creating the magnificent building and supporting the life of the Minster. An outdoor trail will explore the City of York to discover and celebrate diverse women who have transformed their communities over the centuries.

The Revd Catriona Cumming, Succentor at York Minster, said: “We are delighted to be part of this amazing festival, celebrating and encouraging the leadership of women and girls in our communities. This will be a brilliant day of creativity, conversation and celebration.”

The festival, which will take place inside York Minster on Saturday 9 March, is free to attend. Free tickets can be booked in advance here.

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Symbolic York ledger stone leaves for New York

A ledger stone created by York Minster masons to commemorate the long-standing historic links between the cities of York and New York has officially started its journey to the American city.

A special dinner was recently held at the York Minster Refectory to mark the event and was attended by senior representatives from York Minster, the Lord Mayor of York, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and St. George’s Society of New York.

The ledger stone, an inscribed stone slab usually laid into the floor of a church, has been specially crafted by York Minster masons as a gift from York to New York to celebrate their historic connection. The ledger stone was designed by Richard Bossons, who was responsible for creating York Minster’s statue of Queen Elizabeth II.

Not only do the two cities have an unbreakable link through the history of their names – dating back to 1664 when New York was named – but in 1924, New York presented the city of York with a bronze plaque, which is currently housed in the York Guildhall. The new ledger stone marks the centenary of this gift.

The stone was unveiled by HRH Duke of Gloucester, Patron of the St George’s Society New York on July 11th last year, a date that also signified the formal affiliation of the Company of the Merchant Adventurers of the City of York and the St George’s Society of New York.

The stone will now head transatlantic and will be formally unveiled during a special evensong and civic reception at the Church of St Thomas in New York on 5th May 2024. York Minster shares a close relationship with St Thomas’ Church through its liturgy and music.

The Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York, said: “York and New York have a deeply rooted history, and continue to remain connected in many ways, from education, business, and culture. We’re extremely excited that we’ve reached the next step in the programme of celebration marking the centenary of this historic moment as we look to further develop connections between the two cities.

“It also comes at a time where work on our Centre of Excellence is well underway, a project that will establish the York Minster Precinct as a world class campus facility for heritage craft skills, so we’re delighted to be able to showcase the talent of our stonemasons and the scheme on an international scale through this gift.”

Alongside the unveiling of the stone, the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce will be visiting New York as part of a wider trade mission to highlight the many tourism, business, travel, and education and skills opportunities that North Yorkshire has to offer.

James Mason, Chief Executive of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This visit to New York creates an opportunity to open up new trade relationships between York and North Yorkshire businesses and new audiences in North America. As a collective group of North Yorkshire representatives across many sectors it will enable us to shine a light on the region for people to think about visiting, studying and travelling to North Yorkshire whether for business or pleasure.

“This is a self-funded trip with all organisations covering their own costs. Here at the Chamber, we are using our global reach and contacts to facilitate the trip at low cost with big impact. For example, on 2nd May we will be staging a Great Yorkshire show event at the British Consulate in Manhattan and hope to plan other trips dependent on its success. Our aim as always is to support our members and has certainly caught the imagination of businesses within our region who are thinking big and further afield to grow their own organisations.”

Sarah Czarnecki, President of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “I am delighted and excited to be working with my wonderful colleagues at York Minster to send the Centenary Ledger Stone on its way to New York.  The visit to unveil the stone in May presents a fantastic opportunity for York Minster, The Chamber of Commerce and our partners to represent York, Yorkshire and Britain and will be a fitting tribute to mark this historic landmark occasion.”

Mark Aiston, 2nd Vice President of St. George’s Society of New York and Owner of Aiston Fine Art Services, who is sponsoring the shipment of the stone and travelled to York especially to accompany the stone back to New York, added: “I am thrilled to be a part of such an important project for both the City of York and for New York City, particularly as it marks the 100th anniversary of a similar event for which the City of York was then the recipient. I hope many other visitors from York add this to their list of things to see in Manhattan too!”

The Centre of Excellence is a first-of-its-kind project which will see the creation of a world-class campus facility for research, education and training in the traditional craft skills required to preserve and maintain the Minster for future generations. It will also establish the Minster as an international example of best practice in managing complex heritage estates.

Find out more about the Centre of Excellence HERE.


Photo- L-R: Mark Aiston, Aiston Fine Art and representing the St George’s Society of New York; The Very Revd Dominic Barrington; Richard Bossons – York Minster Stonemason


Photo- L-R: James Mason – Chief Executive, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce; Adam Sinclaire – Andrew Jackson Solicitors; Sarah Czarnecki – President, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce; Mark Aiston, Aiston Fine Art and representing the St George’s Society of New York ; The Very Revd Dominic Barrington – Dean of York; David Colthup – Chapter Steward, York Minster; Alex McCallion – Director of Works & Precinct, York Minster; Richard Bossons – York Minster Stonemason; Daniel Sowden – BHP; Louise Barnaby – BHP

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