On Monday lunchtime 12 July 2021 Jonathan Kingston gave the first live organ recital on the Willis organ of 2021, after more than a year of the still present pandemic prevented so much live music making.
Our pre-pandemic First Friday organ concerts have moved to Monthly Monday lunchtime concerts.
After Dave King joyfully welcomed the audience of 22 people back, Jonanthan noted that “Live music has suffered greatly” and as a performer he was delighted to see his audience again, after doing his 2020 online organ festival performance and 2 online concerts in February and March 2021 via YouTube.
As usual Jonathan introduced each piece with interesting information and I've added my responses as well.
Festive March - Henry Smart.
Henry was a bit of an underdog according to Jonathan and composed some good tunes including some hymn tunes (Edwardian church music). Jonathan noted that contemporary Music critics described his music as “effective and melodious”. This march has plenty of variety with tuneful interludes interspersing the main march theme.
Prelude in B flat - Richard Shepherd (of York Minster), who died recently.
This piece was Richard's tribute to Francis Jackson (former musical director at York Minster) and was dedicated to him 'In sincere and deep affection'.
A lovely, contemplative piece played mainly on the Choir organ but some on the Great.
Jonathan introduced this as the first of 2 pieces in the programme with a link of 'old meets new'.
Pastichio from Suite Breve - Jean Langlais.
There were some interesting juicy combinations going on as the piece progressed, with some medieval influences in this 20th century piece. I noted it made lovely use of the quieter, newer stops in the Choir organ.
Aria - Noel Rawsthorne.
Noel was revered as Liverpool Cathedral organist and City Hall organist, who gave Jonathan one lesson before Noel retired.
This piece was out of print, but Jonathan found out during lockdown it is back in print.
The next piece was the second 'old meets new' piece in the programme.
Master Tallis’s testament - Herbert Howells.
Jonathan first played this when the SMSG Willis was restored in 2016 and it deserved another outing.
The music had a medieval feel to it, and was gently contemplative. It started off on the Swell organ, then moved to conversation with the Great organ. It gradually got much louder, then moved to quiet playing on the Choir organ.
Toccata by Robert Prizeman (Songs of Praise)
Jonathan said that at the aged of 16 he thought it was the best piece ever composed! His tastes have changed a bit since then. He learned it specially for this concert after finding his copy while sorting through all his organ music collection during lockdown.
The piece used all the manuals in different question and answer phases, with a variety of stop changes, including the Great trumpet sounding very regal.
It was such a pleasure to hear the Willis organ played in concert again. Dave King commented as he thanked Jonathan for a “Varied and uplifting start to opening up the doors”. Dave also gave a special thanks to Lesley, as she is the one who keeps everyone in touch via the monthly enewsletters.
I was able to attend the lunchtime concert during my working day because I'm still working at home, only a few minutes walk from the church. It was very good to hear the organ sounding so good in a concert again, thankfully I have heard it in church services since they resumed later in 2020.
Words and photos by Anna Page