CHRISTCHURCH Priory is gearing up for eight days of ‘exceptional concerts’ as part of its midsummer Music and Arts Festival.

From June 15 to 22, the historic nave will stage orchestras, choruses, and exquisite ensembles in a spectacular showcase of classical, choral and jazz music.

The festival will open with a large-scale performance of British composer Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, with 90 singers and a professional orchestra.

Other musical highlights include Vivaldi’s much-loved Four Seasons, Holst’s epic Jupiter from the Planet Suite and a finale featuring a special 100-year anniversary performance of Gershwin’s masterpiece Rhapsody in Blue followed by anthemic Proms-style favourites, with ticket-holders treated to a glass of prosecco from the bar.

The Priory will also be welcoming award-wining celebrity organist Thomas Trotter and internationally acclaimed The Gesualdo Six, as well as inviting the public to bring their voices to Hymnfest – an uplifting massed choir celebration of the nation’s favourite hymns.

Simon Earl, The Priory’s director of music, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community and visitors alike to experience the breathtaking 900-year old venue, with its incredible acoustics and stunning architecture.”

Film fans can also enjoy a rare screening of the 1925 silent movie The Phantom of the Opera, with live improvised organ playing by Jonathan Hope bringing the cult classic to life.

The Priory’s mighty 4603-piped Nicholson organ plays a key part in the festival, as the church celebrates 25 years since its rebuild.

Mr Earl added: “We urge all music-lovers to come to an organ event if you’ve not experienced the instrument before.

“It’s a feast for the senses – not only to see and hear it, but to feel those powerful low notes reverberate through you. It’s immense.”

The festival will be offering free events and educational workshops alongside ticketed events to make it accessible as possible to a wide range of audiences.

There will be a voluntary collection at each free event to help fund the music, the charitable mission and the upkeep of The Priory.

To see the full line-up and book tickets visit