Planet Three Eleven Thousand: workshops around Holst’s The Planets

Since November, 2022, we have been running workshops introducing students from Exeter House School and Salisbury Cathedral School to the wonderful new organ transcription by Salisbury Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, John Challenger, of  Gustav Holst’s masterpiece The Planets.  After nine workshops held from November 2022 to February 2023, the student’s have responded to Holst’s work, by creating their very own brand new musical planet Planet Three Eleven Thousand.  Working with Martin Figura (poet), Howard Moody and La Folia musicians have introduced the students to three of Holst’s planets: Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, and in turn the students have responded with their own words and music. The grand finale, where all their hard work comes together, held in Salisbury Cathedral, will be when the students share their new planet with John Challenger, and he, in turn, will blow their socks off playing his organ transcription of Holst’s Mars, Jupiter and Neptune. 

Photo credit: Finnbarr Webster

Photo credit: Finnbarr Webster

Photo: Finnbarr Webster










Here’s what Howard Moody has to say about this very special project:

“Meeting John Challenger in the street after lockdown was a happy coincidence. I asked him the La Folia question that I ask all creative artists who want to take their work to new places – “what do you want to do?”. John immediately knew the answer – to make a transcription of Holst’s The Planets on the newly restored Cathedral organ. He also wanted to be involved in another Evening Songs project with la Folia, involving Exeter House School and the Cathedral School. Every project takes about two years to put together, so here we at last, making The Planets project, warming up to the larger scale Evening Songs project, hopefully in 2024. Thank you John for inspiring two La Folia projects that restore the link with Exeter House School, the Cathedral and The Cathedral School.

Holst’s music gave us wonderful riffs that became starting points for improvisations in the workshops. We focussed on  Mars, Jupiter and Neptune – anger, joy and mystery. The first session was purely musical, taking the students to three different musical zones from which they started to create melodies, songs and lyrics.  At a time when scientists are discovering new planets on a relatively regular basis, the imaginative starting point became about somewhere undiscovered. For the Exeter House students, the three titles became places of colour – green, yellow and red.  Mars was anger from inside out. Their Jupiter was a place where I wake up spinning, dancing on Jupiter.  In the style of Holst’s vocalise at the end of Neptune, beautiful lyrics and melodies emerged over an “E major six over C sharp” chord: Rainbow dreams, Autumn smiles, hand in hand. Peace and calm.

The Cathedral school students’ songs came from a place of imagination inside our heads. We can fly. I asked for a title of such a planet that can be constantly rediscovered. The result was Planet Three Eleven Thousand. Of course! At last I felt able to fulfil a long held dream to find an excuse to make non-patriotic lyrics for the Holst’s well-known tune from Jupiter.  The students had already voiced all the required ideas during the song writing:

Planet Three Eleven Thousand,

A space inside my head,

Where numbers always spin around,

Green, Yellow and Red.

A place where Autumn smiles,

A place where we can fly,

A planet of happiness

A place of no goodbyes.

Planet Three Eleven Thousand,

A place of no goodbyes.

At this point, we were joined by the poet Martin Figura.  Martin asked the groups for everyday impressions of what a planet could be for them. Their responses will have informed Martin’s own writing that he presents at John’s evening recital, giving the project another dimension.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the project – students, artists, managers and funders, with Holst’s music and John Challenger’s supreme artistry at its core. The collaboration between the Cathedral and La Folia is precious. Next stop Evening Songs!”

Howard Moody, February 2023

Raise funds for La Folia via online shopping with The Giving Machine


Are you getting ready to shop online for all the bargains on Black Friday?

Do you shop online for all your Christmas gifts?

Remember, when you are buying Christmas presents or anything online, you can generate a free cash donation for us via The Giving Machine, just by clicking HERE

You’ll find over 2,200 of the most popular stores, so it’s easy for you to make a difference without it costing you a penny more than the normal purchase price of your item.

Thank you in advance for choosing to shop online to raise funds for La Folia Music on Shop&Give:

Join us as a Trustee


Are you passionate about making the arts accessible to all? If so, we are looking for Trustees to join the Management Board of our unique and innovative charity. 

La Folia is a music charity and production company bringing together instrumentalists, singers, actors, dancers, visual artists and writers to create new music, original projects and ground-breaking performances under the artistic directorship of Howard Moody. At the heart of La Folia is the core value of transforming music by making extraordinary performances in unexpected places, breaking through conventional barriers, working with people in challenging circumstances and with artists of the highest quality. We aim to challenge the idea of who gets to make, perform and experience live performance. 

La Folia’s Trustees play a vital role in delivering the charity’s objectives and are responsible for the strategic direction and governance of the organisation. You will be expected to challenge and contribute to ensure that our governance is robust, transparent, and compliant with legislation. 

We wish to improve the diversity of our Board and seek new Trustees from a variety of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. We would welcome a Young Trustee to ensure that we have a fresh perspective for our future. We would particularly benefit from adding those with the following core skills and experience to the current Board: 

  • Legal/compliance
  • Data protection
  • Finance/accountancy 

Please don’t be put off from applying if you don’t have these skills, or if you have never been a Trustee before. The most important qualities for our Trustees are enthusiasm, engagement and a desire to be involved and make a contribution to the charity, as well as a belief that the arts can be a catalyst for social change. 

We hold 4 board meetings every year and sub-committees when the need arises. All our meetings are currently online to ensure they are accessible and inclusive. We may have occasional in-person meetings at a suitable location, always with a virtual option. This is a voluntary role, though reasonable expenses can be claimed. 

To apply, please send a copy of your CV plus a cover letter (max 2 pages) to the Chair of the Board John Cox at, outlining your interest in the charity and what you would bring to the Board. If you would like to have an informal chat before submitting your application, please contact John Cox on 07772 567326 

The closing date for applications is 25th October 2022. 

Shortlisted candidates will initially be invited to meet with at least one Trustee and our Production and Administration Manager during October. You will then be invited to join a Board meeting in January before confirmation of your appointment which is subject to a 6- month probationary period.

Please note: these roles are subject to DBS checks.

Watch our short video, in which La Folia trustee Louise Govier explains what’s involved:

Wonderful memories from a Stone Songs rehearsal

During our rehearsals of Stone Songs, a film crew from BBC South Today paid us a visit.  We have edited their 2 cameras together to give you a wonderful reminder of Howard Moody’s new choral work.

Written 800 years after the laying of the Cathedral’s foundation stone, Stone Songs is a work for soloists, chorus and orchestra, reflecting on the skill, vision and dedication that it took to build such a magnificent building, and inspired by the ancient chants that have resonated from the stones since the 13th century.

Composed and conducted by
Howard Moody

Nazan Fikret – soprano
Helen Charlston – mezzo soprano
Nick Pritchard – tenor
Sam Poppleton – baritone
Jamie Woollard – bass

Salisbury Festival Chorus
La Folia Players
David Halls – organ

Camera – Pete Doherty

CLICK HERE for the programme notes and libretto

Stone Songs Triumph

Howard Moody’s new choral work, STONE SONGS, finally kicked off the Salisbury International Arts Festival on 27th May with two sold out
performances in the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral.

Produced in partnership with Wiltshire Creative, and featuring the 120 voices of Salisbury Festival Chorus, top class orchestral musicians, and
a stellar line up of soloists, the piece was due to be premiered in May 2020, but, due to Covid restrictions, it had to be postponed.

Written 800 years after the laying of the Cathedral’s foundation stone, Stone Songs is a work that reflects on the skill, vision and dedication that it took to build such a magnificent building, and inspired by the ancient chants that have resonated from the stones since the 13th century. A promenade performance with the audience able to roam freely amongst the singers and the stones, the orchestra was joined by two of the Cathedral’s very own stonemasons, Alan Spittle and Joe O’Connell, adding their unique chipping and tapping to the orchestral sound.

Stone Songs performance at Salisbury Cathedral as part of Salisbury International Arts Festival.
Photo by Finnbarr Webster for Wiltshire Creative


CLICK HERE to read Joe’s blog about his experience.

Short clip from a rehearsal of Stone Songs


We have received numerous comments from audience and performers alike, here are just a few:

“A tremendous piece of music and spectacle – this was a triumph!”

“It has been truly an uplifting and positive experience.  I have come home from every rehearsal on a complete high.  Really wonderful, emotional music.”

“The soloists were fabulous and David [Halls] and the band, the stonemasons, the jazz, the blues – the beauty of the the soloists’ chants and that violin absolutely heart rending . . . and of course the medieval madness, wow, wow, wow!”

“To me, it is always a privilege and joy having the chance to sing in our wonderful Cathedral.  Without doubt my experience on Friday was the most memorable; so exciting, emotional and up-lifting.”

If you would like to read more about STONE SONGS, read the programme notes  and/or download a copy of the libretto, please CLICK HERE.


Stone Songs to open Salisbury International Arts Festival 2022

Friday 27 May 2022 at 7pm & 9pm.

Wiltshire Creative, in partnership with La Folia, presents STONE SONGS by Howard Moody. 

Over 800 years after the laying of the Cathedral’s foundation stone, STONE SONGS will reflect on the skill, vision and dedication that it took to build such a magnificent building, inspired by the ancient chants that have resonated from the stones since the 13th century. Underpinned by the power of the newly refurbished Cathedral organ, the voices of the Festival Chorus will explore the acoustic possibilities of the building and reflect on the incredible vision that created it.

STONE SONGS will involve a large chorus, five soloists, brass, percussion, violin, organ and a stone mason at work. This new work celebrates the metamorphosis of stones over geological time and the wonder that they inspire, once they have been crafted into the great cathedrals of the world.

Commissioned by La Folia in partnership with Wiltshire Creative, it was written for the 800th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of Salisbury Cathedral. Its first performance was originally planned for May 2020 but is now happily rescheduled to open the Salisbury International Arts Festival in May 2022.

The Festival Chorus has long been a distinctive and central part of the Festival’s identity and Wiltshire Creative are delighted that this event will herald the start of two packed weeks of music, dance, circus, film, theatre, visual art, spoken word and much more. In pandemic times, the opportunity to have the community’s voices resounding off the resonant surfaces of the Cathedral’s stones will be especially powerful.

The lyrics of the final chorus will have a new and potent significance: “We like living stones will make it sound again”

General Ticket Sales OPEN NOW
CLICK HERE to buy tickets

Howard Moody introduces Stone Songs in the clip below.



Handel’s MESSIAH

After 2 years in hibernation due to the Covid pandemic, on 20th November 2021, La Folia took part in our very first baroque outing, providing the orchestra for a performance of Handel’s MESSIAH on period instruments, in Priory School Chapel in Lewes, East Sussex.  With Howard Moody playing organ continuo, we performed alongside the Esterhazy Chamber Choir, conducted by Richard Dawson, and soloists Alexandra Kidgell, Rebecca Leggett, Ruairi Bowen and Malachy Frame.

It was a completely joyous performance for which the audience not only stood as is the custom during the Hallelujah chorus, but also gave us a standing ovation at the end.  Below are just some of the wonderful comments that were received from both musicians, soloists and audience:

“What an amazing evening!  Will live long in the memory! I still can’t get the smile off my face from last night!” (Richard Dawson, conductor)

“Honestly one of the warmest most wholesome concerts I can remember – just so much joy and fun in the room.  Could tell the audience had been starved of Messiah!” (Ruairi Bowen, tenor soloist)

“It was one of the best Messiah’s I’ve ever been involved with!” (Rebecca Leggett, alto soloist)

“I couldn’t believe what an amazing sound those instrumentalists made! And the choir sounded fab too!” (Audience member)

“It was an absolute joy to play in last night’s concert – and a privilege to lead Folia’s first baroque outing. I was so pleased with the way that the violin section worked together – a great little group and a nice mix of experience and youth.” (Alison Bury, leader)

I really felt the piece ‘ took off’ in the most exciting way and am still on a high from it… The orchestra felt so homogenised from the first note” (Julia Bishop, violin)

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Saturday’s concert.  It was a truly special occasion and one I will remember for a long time.  Especially after the couple of years we have all had, it really meant a lot to be there with you all.” (Alexandra Kidgell, soprano soloist)

“I just wanted to say thank you for your very kind words. It was such a pleasure to play and be spurred on by the choir and orchestra and soloists fizzing along joyously! That’s how concerts should be!” (Neil Brough, trumpet)

Images from the rehearsal (photography John Astbury)

Esterhazy Chamber Choir and La Folia

Alison Bury_Dominika Fehér_Pablo Guttiérez

Howard Moody with Rebecca Leggett

Howard Moody, Catherine Rimer, Pablo Gutiérrez, Dominika Fehér, Alison Bury

Rebecca Bell and Alison Bury

Jan Zahourek and Alexandra Kidgell



La Folia welcomes new Production and Administration Manager

As La Folia prepares to emerge from a period of hibernation, we are delighted to welcome Cesca Eaton as our new Production and Administration Manager.

Cesca holds a rich and varied portfolio of work within the arts and charity sectors, incorporating film-making, concert management, and running Sussex-based charity Doctors for Nepal. Cesca has extensive experience making documentaries and series for television, including the International Emmy award-winning ‘Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne’ (BBC2) and ‘Angelic Voices: the choristers of Salisbury Cathedral’ (BBC4). Cesca has a particular interest in classical music, having begun her career as a professional singer.

Cesca Eaton, newly-appointed Production and Administration Manager for La Folia, comments:

‘I am extremely pleased to be working with Howard and all at La Folia, and am looking forward to continuing the amazing work that Sue Kent has done over the years. Exciting times ahead.’

La Folia’s recent projects have included Howard Moody’s community opera PUSH, which was performed in St Thomas’s Church in 2018 and told the extraordinary story of a man who escaped from a train bound for Auschwitz. La Folia also produced two ground-breaking ‘Evening Songs‘ services in Salisbury Cathedral in 2019 and 2016, both of which featured original text and music written and sung by students from Exeter House Special School alongside Salisbury Cathedral choristers.

La Folia’s previous General Manager, Sue Kent, retired in July 2020, having run eighty-five projects since taking on the role in 2003. Upon her retirement, she was awarded Wiltshire Music Connect’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Music Education Award 2020’ in recognition of her work with La Folia.

John Cox, Chair of Trustees for La Folia, comments:

‘Everyone on the Board is delighted to welcome Cesca in her new role as we look forward to La Folia’s exciting prospects once more.’

Thanks to the ongoing generosity of our supporters, La Folia will be relaunching project activity in earnest as soon as social distancing guidelines allow. Click here to receive project and performance updates via email.

Job vacancy at La Folia: Production & Administration Manager (Freelance)

As La Folia emerges from a period of hibernation, we are delighted to be opening applications for a freelance Production and Administration Manager to act as a central point of connection for all aspects of La Folia and its activities. Working closely with the Artistic Director, Board of Trustees, Finance Manager, project artists and freelance professionals, the successful candidate will be responsible for carrying out all the day-to-day administrative operations of the charity and co-ordinating all project activity.

Fee: £200-£250 per day, depending on experience.

Hours: 4 days per month for 1 year, subject to review after 6 months. Additional project-based hours may be available depending on the programme of activity.

Location: Home‐based, although attendance at meetings and events will be required. La Folia is currently based in Salisbury, but is open to applicants from a wider geographical area.

Please note, this is a freelance role.

Your skills and experience (a passion for communication through music and the arts is a given):

  • A successful manager with experience of working within a charity and/or arts organisation
  • Ability to develop and maintain strong working relationships with trustees, partners, supporters, sponsors, artists, freelance professionals and volunteers
  • Outstanding and persuasive written, oral and interpersonal skills
  • IT competent
  • Ability to work effectively with varying degrees of support – from working completely under own initiative to working collaboratively with a lot of input
  • Willingness to work flexibly and responsively
  • Ability to think laterally
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills
  • Energy, enthusiasm, imagination and drive

Please click here to download a full job description

To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to
In your letter, please explain how your skills and experience match the role description and person specification, why you would like to join us, and any other relevant details in support of your application.

Application deadline: Tuesday 25 May 2021, 5pm

First interviews: Tuesday 15 June 2021 (to be held on Zoom)

For further information about the role, please contact John Cox, Chair of Trustees: