Cathedral offers prog-rock Christmas

Michael Stoddart in full practice of Tull Classic AqualungKeith Blundy / Aegies Associates

The Christmas concert at the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas in Newcastle is having the rock star treatment this year with the addition of the legendary Ian Anderson.

The Jethro Tull leader will be performing a prog-rock Christmas concert at the cathedral this coming Friday.

Michael Stoddart, Director of Music at St Nicholas, said: "It's terribly exciting. It's a great way of bringing together all sorts of different aspects of life.

"It's not often you can bring together classical, rock and religious music under one roof and that's what makes it very exciting. And what a great musician to be working with.

"It brings a whole new dimension to what we can do in the cathedral, especially with the new lighting and the effects which they will bring.

"Historically, rock music has been associated with cathedrals and it should be a fantastic event."

Anderson and Jethro Tull remain one of the most unique British rock acts. Anderson, who is credited with introducing the flute to rock music, regularly performs to support churches and cathedrals.

Previous performances have been held in Salisbury and Canterbury cathedrals. Proceeds from this Friday's concert will also go towards St Nicholas's cathedral funds.

Anderson will be joined by local musicians, Bob Fox and Kathryn Tickell. He said the concert offered audiences a chance to celebrate the Christmas season in great style.

"Bringing a different audience to the experience of the Anglican Church traditions offers them the chance to feel involved with their local church or cathedral life," he said.

"No, I am not a true-blue Christian but I support the Church and value our great traditions of faith and worship.

"Even more, I value the architectural heritage of an age which will not come again. Once the roof falls in, it will turn into a block of flats or a Starbucks."

The evening will include carols, classic music and several Jethro Tull tracks, including the 1971 classic Aqualung, which will be accompanied by an introduction played on the cathedral organ.

"As the organ and choir are integral to the Christmas Carol service, it feels appropriate to include them in the mix. As we do with prayer, blessing and readings," he explained.

"It is a very delicate balance of tradition, Anglican worship, and the secular musical world of rock and roll. And all of this for the modest, princely sum that is the price of a ticket, 100% of which goes to the Cathedral fund. Everyone's a winner."

Doors open 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are available via the ticket office at The Sage Gateshead on 0191 443 4661