Music, Organ, Building, Organist notes:
Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach on the western edge of the central German state of Thuringia; members of the Bach family lived and worked in this area for generations, and many of them were musicians. A few months after his ninth birthday, Johann Sebastian’s mother died; less than a year later his father was also dead. The young J. S. Bach was therefore brought up by his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach, an organist. Inevitably a succession of church appointments as organist provided the framework for the career of this towering genius of the late Baroque, culminating in his appointment to the Thomasschule in Leipzig in 1723. Bach spent the rest of his life in Leipzig. As Thomaskantor, responsible not only for training the choir of St. Thomas School but also teaching Latin, he provided music for the town’s principal churches, especially the famous mediaeval foundations of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. It was at the same Thomaskirche that Martin Luther had preached in 1539, proclaiming the Reformation to the people of Leipzig after the death of George, Duke of Saxony. Although Duke George had been aware of the need for correcting various aspects of the life of the Church, he had remained a staunch Catholic and had vigorously resisted Luther. However, Luther was in any case already well-known in Leipzig as he had engaged in public debate there with the Catholic theologian Johann Eck in 1519, a debate instigated by Duke George.
Bach’s appointment at Leipzig came after a six-year break in his work as organist at Lutheran churches. His appointment to the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen in 1717 had brought about an especially productive period of instrumental writing as the Prince, being a Calvinist, did not require elaborate music in his chapel.
The Baroque toccata developed in various ways in different parts of Europe. North German composers such as Buxtehude developed substantial toccatas where free-flowing sections contrasted with the complexities of that most highly organised of musical forms, the fugue. The reputation of Buxtehude was such that Bach, when a young man of 20, journeyed from Arnstadt to Lübeck to hear him and to study his music. Although Bach’s absence from the church of St. Boniface in Arnstadt had been agreed in advance, the fact that Bach decided to extend his stay in Lübeck by three months did not endear him to the church authorities in Arnstadt.
The oldest extant copy is in the hand of another organist from Thuringia, Johannes Ringk (1717-1778). This exhuberant composition is now not only one of the most instantly recognisable works in the entire organ repertoire but also a favourite source for transcription, two well-known examples being Busoni’s typically virtuosic piano arrangement and Stokowski’s lush 1927 orchestration for full symphony orchestra (the latter made famous through Disney’s film Fantasia). In 1980 a version made by the Classic/Rock fusion band Sky entered the Top 10.
However, some scholars believe that this piece is itself a transcription, having originally been written for violin; other theories include the suggestion that it was not composed by J. S. Bach at all. Certain features of the work, some of them unique (including the opening passages in octaves and the statement of the fugue subject unaccompanied in the pedals) are enough to cause doubt as to its generally accepted provenance. Whatever its origins, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor will continue to captivate the casual listener as well as the organ enthusiast.
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam (BWV 684) Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
In 1521/1522 Luther stayed secretly in the Wartburg Castle overlooking Eisenach; here he translated the New Testament into German. With the formation of new liturgies for Luther’s congregations, the opportunity arose for composers to provide musical settings of German rather than Latin texts. For Luther, music was an indispensable part of worship; he was no mean musician himself. The chorale became the cornerstone of Lutheran church music, and whatever the complexity of musical composition for liturgical use the importance of the chorale as the hymn tune to be sung by the whole assembly was not forgotten. In J.S. Bach’s cycles of cantatas for the church year, for instance, and in his sublime settings of the Passion according to St. Matthew and St. John, chorales provide moments of focus and reflection.
Chorale melodies were sometimes adapted from earlier Latin plainchant melodies or from sources such as folk tunes. Some chorale melodies were newly composed, as in the case of Ein’ feste Burg (A mighty fortress is our God); the words and melody of this famous hymn (sometimes known as the Battle Hymn of the Reformation) were written by Martin Luther during the late 1520s.
In common with other composers of his time, Bach published sets of keyboard works entitled Clavier-Übung. Under this somewhat prosaic title, meaning Keyboard Practice, some of Bach’s best known keyboard writing was disseminated to musical enthusiasts, including such well-known works as the six Partitas (first published separately, then together as the first volume of Clavier-Übung in 1731) and the Italian Concerto (published together with the French Overture within Clavier-Übung II of 1735). In 1739, the 3rd volume of the Clavier-Übung appeared, consisting of “Various Preludes on the Catechism and other Hymns for the Organ” (bestehend in verschiedenen Vorspielen über die Catechismus - und andere Gesaenge, vor die Orgel). The 4th volume of the Clavier-Übung (The Goldberg Variations) appeared in 1741. The year of publication of Bach’s organ preludes related to the Lutheran Catechism may be significant: 1739 saw the 200th anniversary of Martin Luther’s historic Leipzig sermon.
The chorale preludes within the Clavier-Übung include pairs of preludes for the six catechism chorales, each tune being set first with pedals then in a simpler style for manuals only. BWV684 sets the chorale tune in the pedals accompanied by three flowing parts for the manuals. Bach was well-known for his picturesque treatment of chorale melodies from his younger days in Arnstadt, and had been taken to task there for his ‘surprising variations’ on chorale melodies which were said to cause confusion amongst members of the congregation. Bach’s remarkable inventiveness was always at the root of his musical style, and it is easy to imagine that he may be depicting the waters of the River Jordan in this prelude upon Luther’s baptismal chorale of 1541.
Fugue in G minor (BWV 578) Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
This fugue dates from Bach’s time in Arnstadt (1703-1707) and shows the influence of Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). It is sometimes referred to as the “Little” G minor, to distinguish it from the “Great” G minor Fantasia and Fugue (BWV542), which is a later composition.
[It is worth remembering that the generally accepted numbering of the compositions of J.S. Bach contained in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis dates only from 1950. The works are grouped thematically rather than chronologically, the precedent having been set in a catalogue established by the Bach Gesellschaft in the 19th century. Many of Bach’s works are of uncertain date, a date on a copy possibly only referring to the date of the copy or re-arrangement of the work].
Although never travelling abroad in the manner enjoyed by his famous contemporary G. F. Handel, Bach was forever absorbing musical influences from other composers. French and Italian masters were studied avidly; it is part of Bach’s genius that he was able to absorb so much and make it his own. Corelli on the other hand did travel widely, and his visits took him to Paris and Bavaria as well as various cities in his native Italy; he is buried in Rome. Corelli’s work was central to the development of the work of violinist-composers of the Baroque. Bach’s 4-voice fugue uses a favourite device of Corelli between entries of the subject when imitative entries between two parts on a quaver upbeat form a sequential progression downwards. About this time, Bach also wrote a fugue based on a theme of Corelli (the Fugue in B minor, BWV579).
Toccata Septima Georg Muffat (bapt.1653–d.1704)
Muffat was born in Mégève, now in France (not far from Mont Blanc) but then in the Duchy of Savoy. His father’s family, being Scottish Catholics, had fled to France early in the 17th century to avoid possible persecution; his mother was French. Muffat grew up in Alsace, where French and German cultures mix. At the age of ten he commenced six years of study in Paris at a time when the development of French music was principally influenced by the work of Lully. Muffat then returned to Alsace where he worked as an organist, after which he studied law in Bavaria. He also lived in Vienna and Prague. In 1678 Muffat was appointed organist to the Archbishop of Salzburg where his duties included work as an orchestral musician, Archbishops of Salzburg at that time being Prince-Archbishops. During the 1680s Muffat travelled to Rome where he met Corelli.
In 1690 Muffat was appointed Kapellmeister to the Bishop of Passau where he also served as a writer of orchestral music.
Although prominent as a composer of instrumental music through which he was responsible for introducing French and Italian style into Germany, Muffat also wrote organ music.
His Apparatus Musico-Organisticus, published in Salzburg in 1690, was dedicated to the Austrian Emperor Leopold I. Most of this work consists of a series of 12 toccatas, there being a Ciacona, a Passacaglia, and an Aria followed by Variations on a theme to round out the collection. The toccatas are sectional works in which the tradition of German organ writing is combined with elements derived from French and Italian instrumental music.
The toccatas make use of the traditional church modes as found in Gregorian chant, the Toccata Septima therefore using the 7th mode; it begins and ends on a chord of C, but with a key signature of B flat.
Vater unser im Himmelreich Georg Böhm (1661–1733)
Georg Böhm, like J. S. Bach, was born in Thuringia, and was at one time taught by students of members of the Bach family. In the 1690s he went to Hamburg, where he was able to become acquainted with French and Italian musical style, especially through the music performed at the opera house there. Hamburg also provided opportunity for hearing fine organists, and Böhm was able to meet Buxtehude at this time. From 1698 until his death, Böhm was organist of the Johanniskirche in Lüneburg. Since J.S. Bach was educated in Lüneburg from the age of 15 for about two years, and came from the same part of Germany as Böhm, it is quite possible that Böhm was at least a strong influence on the young Johann Sebastian if not his teacher at one time; J.S. Bach’s eldest son, C.P.E Bach, recounted how his father valued his study of the works of Böhm. Georg’s keyboard works show the influence of French music, an idiom that was encouraged in the area of Germany, especially at the nearby court of the Duke of Celle.
Vater unser im Himmelreich, being Luther’s version of the Lord’s Prayer in verse form, is indissolubly linked with the melody that forms the basis of this chorale prelude by Böhm. The melody probably dates from the Middle Ages and may well have secular origins. Luther knew a good tune when he heard one, and may have helped to select it for its current purpose; the melody, together with associated text, was first published in a book of Geistliche Lieder in Leipzig in 1539.
Passacaglia in D minor Dietrich Buxtehude (1637–1707)
Buxtehude’s place of birth has been a matter for dispute, and his name is found in different spellings, but he considered himself Danish. His father was an organist and schoolmaster, and therefore taught the young Dietrich. The family settled in the Danish city of Helsingør (Hamlet’s Elsinore) where Dietrich’s father became organist at the church of St. Olai until his retirement. Dietrich was appointed organist at the Mariekirke in Helsingborg, across the Oresund Sound, before finding a similar post in Helsingør. In 1668, Dietrich (or Dieterich as he was sometimes known in later life) settled in Germany when he succeeded Franz Tunder as organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, a notable brick Gothic church which is one of the largest in Germany and now designated by UNESCO as being of cultural significance. Buxtehude settled in Lübeck for the rest of his life, having married Tunder’s younger daughter.
The old Hanseatic city of Lübeck, for several centuries the ‘capital’ of the Hanseatic League, gave notable opportunities for Buxtehude. Particularly well-known were his Abendmusiken concerts on five Sundays before Christmas. Being a free Imperial city, Lübeck offered Buxtehude a degree of liberty in his work that was noticed by younger men: Mattheson, Telemann, Handel, and J.S. Bach all made their way to Lübeck, though Mattheson and Handel were not keen on taking over Buxtehude’s job when offered it as the condition was that the new organist should marry Buxtehude’s daughter, as Buxtehude had married Tunder’s!
For many years, Buxtehude was chiefly known for his organ music and sacred choral works, but much greater attention is now paid to his chamber music, and he is considered to be one of the most important and influential composers of the German mid-Baroque.
Buxtehude’s Passacaglia in D minor is found in only one source, compiled by Johann Christoph Bach, Johann Sebastian’s eldest brother. It is not known for certain when it was written. The work is in 3/2 time and based on a seven-note ostinato (i.e. repeating) pattern. There are four sections, each containing seven variations on the seven-note theme. The seven-note theme is four bars long and appears 28 times (Buxtehude had a great interest in numbers!). The four sections are respectively in the keys of D minor, F major, A minor, and D minor.
Philipp Spitta, who did so much to restore interest in the music of J.S. Bach, referred to Buxtehude’s music of this type, based on an ostinato, in his 1873 biography of Bach; Spitta considered these works of Buxtehude as being of the highest quality. The Passacaglia was also greatly admired by Brahms.
O Gott, du frommer Gott Opus 122: No. 7 Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
Although Brahms is chiefly known for his fine orchestral, piano, and chamber music, together with a rich vein of Lieder and works such as the German Requiem, his last compositions were for the organ. Previously, he had written two preludes and fugues during the 1850s. He then abandoned organ composition until the last years of his life. The Eleven Chorale Preludes date from 1896, and the music was published posthumously.
The 1890s were difficult times for Brahms. Not only did he lose his sister Elise (she died in 1892), but various close friends as well, such as the Bach scholar Philipp Spitta and the conductor Hans von Bülow (both died in 1894). In 1896, Brahms had to cope with the loss of his dearest friend, Clara Schumann. It is thought that the stroke she suffered in March of that year, and the realisation that death might not be far away, gave Brahms the impetus to compose the Vier Ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs), Opus 121, although the songs were dedicated to another friend. Clara died soon after Opus 121 was completed in May 1896.
A seriousness is also evident in Opus 122, which includes two settings of the melody known as the Passion Chorale (but with its earlier text Herzlich thut mich verlangen praying for a peaceful end), and two of O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (O World I must leave thee); the life to come is contemplated in O wie selig seid ihr doch (O how blest are ye). O Gott, du frommer Gott (O God, thou righteous God) is one of the more substantial pieces in the set, an intricate contrapuntal texture setting off the unadorned chorale melody.
Thema met Variaties Hendrik Andriessen (1892–1981)
The Dutch composer Hendrik Andriessen was born in Haarlem. After completing his studies at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, Andriessen took over the organist’s post in Haarlem previously occupied by his father in 1913. In 1934 he was appointed to a similar post at the cathedral in Utrecht. He also taught at conservatoires in Amsterdam, Utrecht (where he was Director), and The Hague (also as Director).
The Andriessen family has produced a noted group of composers, including Hendrik’s brother (Willem) and sons Jurriann and Louis. Jurriann studied with Messiaen in Paris and is known as a composer of film music; Louis combines influences from Stravinsky, jazz, and American minimalism. Their father Hendrik, by contrast, was noted for his organ improvisations, and wrote a quantity of liturgical choral music in a mystical French-inspired idiom. Between 1930 and 1949 he taught at the Institute for Catholic Church Music in Utrecht. He was later appointed to a professorship at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. During the Nazi occupation of Holland, Hendrik Andriessen’s musical activities were severely curtailed; he was only allowed to teach and play for church services, and for six months in 1942 he was detained by the occupying forces.
Returning to a more public profile in 1945, Andriessen produced his third symphony in 1946 (his fourth, and last, was completed in 1954). He wrote in a variety of genres, but periodically turned to organ composition, his Choral No.1 having been written as far back as 1913. The Theme and Variations recorded here appeared in 1949. This is one of the most popular of Andriessen’s organ works, and allows considerable scope for tonal variety.
Serenade Opus 22 Derek Bourgeois (b. 1941)
Derek Bourgeois was born in Kingston upon Thames. He graduated in Music at the University of Cambridge where he subsequently took a Doctorate. He also studied composition with Herbert Howells and conducting with Sir Adrian Boult at the Royal College of Music. In 1970 he was appointed to the music staff of Bristol University where he remained until 1984.
For a time he was also conductor of the Sun Life Band, Chairman of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain, and a member of the Arts Council. In 1984, Derek Bourgeois was appointed as Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain; he remained with the NYO until 1993 when he was appointed Director of Music at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in London. Since his retirement in 2002 he has concentrated on composition.
Derek Bourgeois has written extensively for ensembles of all kinds, including well over 40 symphonies and a considerable number of works for brass band and concert band; his music is frequently heard at band competitions.
The Serenade was written in 1965 for the composer’s wedding. Three arrangements of the music appeared subsequently: for orchestra, brass band, and concert band. The piece has a light touch and, typically, shows that the composer is not afraid to write a tune; the 11/8 time signature provides a gently humorous contrast to more solemn pieces used for the same purpose.
Prelude and Fugue in C Minor Opus 37: No. 1 Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847)
Felix Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg in 1809 into a family with a strong artistic and intellectual outlook. His father was a wealthy banker and his grandfather the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, one of the great men of the Enlightenment and of European Judaism. When Felix was still young the family converted from Judaism to Christianity; the family name was then changed to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the name by which the composer is still known in his native Germany. Brought up as a Lutheran, Felix acquired the additional names of Jacob Ludwig at his baptism.
Mendelssohn was regarded as a child prodigy. Comparisons were made with Mozart, for example by Goethe who had known the young Mozart and met Mendelssohn in 1821. Abraham Mendelssohn was not initially in favour of his son Felix making a life in music, but the quality of early works such as the String octet in E flat (1825) and the Overture to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826) inevitably pointed the way to a musical career. Travels throughout Europe brought success, and Felix was especially well received in Britain. He made ten visits to Britain, and was popular at the court of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Wedding March from his incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream was played at the wedding of Princess Victoria, the Princess Royal, to Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1858: the start of a long tradition. Mendelssohn’s visits to Britain inspired such works as the overture Fingal’s Cave (The Hebrides Overture) and the Scottish Symphony; his oratorio Elijah received its first performance at the Birmingham Festival of 1846 to great acclaim.
Mendelssohn’s own musical tastes were more conservative than others of his time, his blend of gentle romantic expression and classical restraint contrasting with the more flamboyant romanticism of Liszt and Berlioz. Acutely aware of German musical tradition, he organised a performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin in 1829, the first performance of that work since the composer’s death in 1750. The music of Bach had fallen out of fashion and was little known in the early 19th century; Mendelssohn took on the task of bringing his music before a new audience. He also helped promote the oratorios of Handel in Britain by preparing new editions of these works as well as providing British publishers with new editions of the organ works of Bach.
In 1835 Mendelssohn was appointed conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He worked tirelessly to further the musical life of the city, his activities involving various institutions there including the Choir of St. Thomas Church which Bach had directed a century before. Like Bach, Mendelssohn’s crowning achievements were in Leipzig where he died; his legacy in that city is the Music Conservatory that he founded.
Foremost among Mendelssohn’s own organ works are the Three Preludes and Fugues of (Opus 37) of 1837 and the Six Sonatas (Opus 65) dating from 1845. Mendelssohn’s C minor fugue was first sketched out after an improvisation when he was visiting his friend Thomas Attwood in London in 1833. Attwood (1765-1838), who had studied with Mozart in Vienna in the 1780s, was organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1796 until his death. The whole of Mendelssohn’s Opus 37 is dedicated to Attwood. The Prelude in C minor, written shortly before publication of the complete work, is marked vivace, its momentum maintained by energetic quaver movement which recalls the mood and style of some of the preludes of Bach. The prelude leads to a fugue in 12/8 that maintains the same sense of energy and momentum. There is a sense here that Mendelssohn is looking back to music from the previous century, yet he also provides the impetus for organ composition in the century ahead.
Mendelssohn’s reputation has had its ups and downs. The earnest side of his nature as well as the polished technique of compositions such as his Songs without Words ensured his success in Victorian England; in Leipzig, too, his popularity never faded. But Mendelssohn has also had his detractors, including Wagner who sniped at Mendelssohn’s music in an anti-Semitic article (Das Judenthum in der Musik) first published in 1850 and later re-printed. The 1930s saw a more severe set-back when performances of Mendelssohn’s music were banned by the Nazi regime because of his Jewish background.
Post-war rehabilitation of the composer’s reputation was slow, especially with Leipzig finding itself on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, but his cause was taken up by Kurt Masur, conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra from 1970 to 1996. Leipzig became a focus for the world’s attention in October 1989 when a series of Prayer Services in the Nikolaikirche together with peaceful demonstrations on the streets proved to be part of the prelude to the disintegration of the East German Communist regime. Later that year, the demolition of the Berlin Wall began; German re-unification followed in 1990. With freedom of travel in a new era, progress in Mendelssohn scholarship has gathered pace, helped by the formation of an International Mendelssohn Foundation; a re-evaluation of his complete life’s work is now possible. In 1991, under Masur’s leadership, an initiative to save Mendelssohn’s last house in Leipzig led to its restoration and re-opening in 1997 as a museum dedicated to the composer’s life and work. In the same year, a Mendelssohn Memorial Window was dedicated in the Thomaskirche, the church which is also the final resting place of J. S. Bach; Leipzig can now celebrate the memory of its two famous adopted sons in the ancient church that both of them knew so well.
© 2009 Richard J. Jones
The Organ at Clifton Cathedral, Bristol, UK
The Cathedral organ is a three-manual pipe organ built by Rieger Orgelbau of Austria for the opening of the Cathedral in June 1973. The specification was drawn up by Joseph von Glatter-Götz, then managing director of Rieger, in conjunction with John Rowntree of the Society of Saint Gregory Organ Advisory Group. It has 1,830 pipes.
The contract price in 1973 was £18,000 – the Brustwerk Cimbel being donated by Herr Glatter-Götz at his own expense. It was originally intended that the organ from the pro-Cathedral (a 19th-century Vowles instrument) would be installed in the new Cathedral, transformed into a row of pipes on a shelf suspended above where the choir would have been in that scenario. Part of the unfinished shelf can be seen to the left of the organ, as can the original console position to the right – a hexagonal space now often used by the Cantor.
The design of the case for the Rieger organ was by Herr Glatter-Götz, and reflects the triangles, hexagons and the proportions (1:√3) on which the design of the Cathedral building is based. The case is made of ash, great care having been taken to match the wood throughout the Cathedral to the extent that it was sourced from all over Europe. The pedal pipes have the copper flamed to complement the scheme. Copper was more economic as a pipe metal than lead or tin in 1973.
There are 26 speaking stops, with no extensions or duplexing. The keyboard, pedal and stop action is completely mechanical. Apart from five reversible foot pedals to the couplers (situated to the left of the swell pedal) there are no playing aids whatsoever. There is no III/I manual coupler. The keyboards are reversed with white sharps and ebony natural keys. The pedal board is a hybrid of the RCO standard pedal board specification (concave and radiating) and a straight pedal board as would have been found in earlier organs. The pedals extend to F and the manuals to G. The blower is a Swiss Meidinger model and the wind supply to the chests of the Schwimmer form.
The Cathedral building has two acoustic zones: one for music on the Sanctuary and one for speech in the Nave. The organ echoes this design with the tone cabinets projecting towards the Nave, apart from the Rückpositiv which speaks into the Narthex and thus supports singing on the Sanctuary and has as a consequence more indirect sound (reverberation) in the Nave. Originally the Brustwerk was to have been unenclosed, but this was felt to be a little too uncompromising and, after much discussion, it was encased in glass shutters. The Werkprinzip tonal design, with narrow scaling and tone cabinets, is ideal for the acoustic with its warm resonance.
Although of modest proportions and scale for a thousand-seat room, it speaks with great clarity (largely due to a neo-Baroque voicing style) and control (due to a sensitive, atmospherically compensated, mechanical action). It is the only instrument of its type in the South West of England, and attracts recitalists, recording artists and students from throughout the UK and abroad.
The organ enhances the liturgy with colour of tone, and is the sole instrument used to accompany the Solemn Mass each Sunday – quite a challenge, given the lack of pistons or other playing aids. This is the character of the organ: uncompromising and challenging, exciting to play – and consequently to hear – as the organist tackles all kinds of repertoire with an 18th century Austrian musical accent.
The great organ historian BB Edwards wrote: ‘I was allowed to play this for an hour. Superb… I would not, however, want to play it regularly in liturgical use.’ John Norman in The Organs of Britain wrote phrases such as: ‘a model of achievement [with a] strong personality’.
A specification is available on the Clifton Music Service website.
Stephen is Director of Music of St. Edward’s School, Cheltenham and Organist of Clifton Cathedral. He was educated in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and whilst in the sixth-form he was Organ Scholar at Newcastle Cathedral. He moved to Manchester University to read music, during which time he studied the organ with Gordon Stewart, directed several choirs and orchestras as well as being Organ Scholar at Blackburn Cathedral. After graduating he completed a PGCE course before initially teaching in Liverpool. In 1999 he moved to Bristol and has since taught in two of the independent schools within the city.
In September 2006, he was appointed Director of Music of St. Edward’s School, Cheltenham, where he is responsible for the direction of the music both academically and within the extensive extra-curricular framework. He conducts the school’s choirs and orchestras in their extensive programme of concerts and services, including visits to Tewkesbury Abbey and Clifton Cathedral as well as touring across Europe. The many significant performances he has directed include ‘The Snowman’ (playing live with the movie), Lionel Bart’s Oliver! and the world première of a specially commissioned mass setting by Ian Higginson, ‘Missa Sancti Eduarde’.
Stephen has been Organist of Clifton Cathedral since September 2000, a post he combines with his full-time teaching position. He has undertaken various recordings, broadcasts and tours with the cathedral choir, including broadcasting live on BBC1 as well as various broadcasts on BBC Radio 4. He is in demand as an organist, having already performed throughout the UK, Europe and America. He was a prizewinner at the Oundle International Summer School and a finalist in the Royal College of Organists’ Performer of the Year competition in 2002.
Booklet design and photography by Lesley Lee