Roger explains about Alain's music

Roger explains about Alain's music

On Sunday 11 September at 6:30 pm some people came to watch the Heritage Lottery funded organ video which we screened in the Parish Hall before the final recital.

We concluded the 2016 organ festival with Classic Romantic Organ Masterworks played with great skill by Roger Sayer.

Roger introduced each piece with fascinating insights into the music and the composers, three of whom were French who wrote for Cathedral organs much larger than the Stony Stratford organ.  Henry Willis had modeled his big organ sounds on the work of organ-builder Cavaille-Coll who built the iconic organ at Notre Dame in Paris.  Romantic French organ music therefore sounds good on our Willis organ, especially now that the Henry Willis III 1932 specification has been fully realised with 3 new stops on the Choir and one on the Swell organ.

Roger plays to a rapt audience

Roger plays to a rapt audience

His programme:

  • Litanies - Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
  • Prelude et Fugue sur le nom - Maurice Durufle (1902-1986)
  • Romance and Finale from Symphony no. 4 - Louis Vierne (1870-1937)


  • Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV543 - J S Bach (1685-1750)
  • Five Portraits for Home Organ - William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982)
  • Sonata Eroica - Joseph Jongen (1873-1953)
Roger at the Willis console

Roger at the Willis console

Jonathan Kingston turned pages for Roger for some pieces.  Roger included the Bach piece even though this was essentially a programme of Romantic inspired masterworks.  He explained that almost every composer for the organ refers to Bach for inspiration and he played it with sensitivity and precision.

My personal favourite was the Vierne as I love his Organ Symphonies, however the Bach was a revelation and it was great to be introduced to the Jongen and Lloyd Webber pieces.  Indeed the Jongen was a perfect choice for the final piece as it had great variety in volume including the dramatic blaze of sound towards the end.

Jonathan turns pages for Roger

Jonathan turns pages for Roger

Feedback comments from the audience included:

"Both recitalist and organ were stunning"

"Fantastic use of range of organ sounds"

"Really enjoyed meeting new music, especially when each piece was introduced"

"Love huge sound, excellent organist"

"Great to hear the organ put through its paces - in all it's wonderful variety."

"Wonderful to hear what the newly restored organ can do"

"What a versatile and varied programme, yet another excellent organ recital"

"I liked the wide range of varied sounds coming from the organ, especially the imaginative choice of stops for the works of Duruflé, Vierne and Jongen"

Roger and Jonathan at the console

Roger and Jonathan at the console

Reported afterwards to me by one of the volunteers: "Just one comment I heard from this evening. A gentleman was leaving and handed in his feedback form, no idea who he was, and Sue Womack said, 'I hope you enjoyed that.'  He said something about traveling miles for this evening.  As I hadn’t heard exactly what he said I asked him, 'May I ask how far you did travel for tonight’s performance?'  'Oh, no, he said, not far at all, I’m local – but I would have travelled miles for that, it was just magnificent.  Thank you.'"

I would like to thank Roger Sayer for an excellent recital - what a brilliant end to a super weekend of organ music and musical activities.

Thank you Roger

Thank you Roger

Thank you to Jonathan Kingston whose musical direction for the weekend started when we first began festival planning more than 18 months ago and who has been enormously encouraging and enthusiastic for the organ project ever since he first started playing it in 2006 when it was in a dire state.

The team of volunteers made the festival go so well - they all made a great contribution and it would have been impossible without them.  Thank you especially to Lesley for the mammoth task of co-ordinating volunteer coverage of all the events, Jane Wolfson for managing all the box office arrangements and keeping notes on everything and Joe Laredo for being a big help with publicity, Kate Davies for all her design work on the leaflet and programme and Sue Starr for putting together the photographic exhibition.

We are already thinking about plans for the 2017 Organ Festival.

More photos can be seen at

Words by Anna Page, photos by Ellie and Anna Page