It is always a pleasure to welcome Jonathan Kingston to St Mary and St Giles Church. We got to know him in 2005, when he spent 2 years here as organist and choirmaster, whilst teaching at Stowe School.
Since his move, initially to Bromsgrove School, he has always been a friend to us and the organ here. His generosity of time, talent, advice and encouragement has been humbling and so very gratefully received. To have him give our inaugural organ recital after the completed restoration was a real celebration!
Forty people came to the Parish Hall for the pre-concert showing of our Heritage Lottery funded video, which charts the restoration, history and mechanics of the Fr Willis organ. Jonathan featured in the video too! Tea and chat followed, before moving into the church to see and hear the results of that restoration.
Jonathan's recital began with the majestic Overture from Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks. Followed by the Bouree, Largo, La Rejouissance and Minuet, we were given examples of the full colour range of the instrument immediately.
A large screen, suspended from the gallery, and a camera near the console allowed the audience to see the manuals and pedals being played. The intricacies of using the stops, changing manuals, producing the dynamics and turning the pages were all visible and greatly enhanced the performance, giving us all a greater insight into the complexities of playing 'the King of instruments'.
The choice of programme brought us familiar favourites like 'Knightsbridge March' from Eric Coates' London Suite alongside lesser known pieces, such as Virgil Fox's arrangement for organ of 'Now thank we all our God' by J.S. Bach. To end the recital, Jonathan gave his first public performance of Flor Peters' Lied to the Sun; a stunning end to an impressive concert.
Throughout the performance Jonathan punctuated his playing with informative and humorous explanations of the music and his reasons for choosing it. His love of the organ, the music, and the joy of playing shone through in the interpretation of the varied repertoire and the skill with which they showed off the many facets of our Fr Willis organ.
The audience was entranced and left with the memories of a splendid evening's entertainment. The words 'awesome', 'magnificent', and 'wonderful' were just some of the descriptions of the evening - and so it was!
At the end we presented Jonathan with a framed pipe dedication of Middle C of the new 16ft Waldhorn and his own copy of the video which we had screened in the parish hall before his concert.
The programme by Jonathan Kingston, King’s School Ely, Ely Cathedral & Musical Director of Stony Stratford Organ Festival:
- Music for the Royal Fireworks (Overture, Bouree, Largo, La Rejouissance, Minuet) - G. F. Handel arr for the organ by E. Power Biggs
- Sicilienne - Maria Theresa von Paradis
- Concerto in G major BWV 592 - J S Bach/Ernst
- War March of the Priests - Mendelssohn arr. W.T. Best
- Master Tallis’ Testament - Herbert Howells
- Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne in C - Dietrich Buxtehude
- Grand March ‘Aida’ - Verdi arr. Brown
- Adagio in E - Frank Bridge
- London Suite ‘Knightsbridge’ - Eric Coates
- Offertoire sur les grand jeux - Francois Couperin
- Now thank we all our God - J S Bach arr. Virgil Fox
- Lied to the Sun - Flor Peeters
- Encore: Ceremonial March - Herbert Sumsion
135 people attended this recital and £1,181.04 was raised to sustain the upkeep of our Fr Willis organ for the future. Thank you to all our volunteers for their help and support before, during and after this concert.
Words by Lesley Salter, photos by Eleanor Page