For the latest amateur classical music listings in and around Portsmouth, including Fareham, Petersfield, Chichester, Havant and Hayling Island

The Organ Project: Organ Recital Series – Anthony Froggatt

Our 2021 monthly Organ Recital series continues with a LIVE recital given by Anthony Froggatt on 1 July.

Anthony Froggatt is a former Organist and Master of the Choristers at Portsmouth Cathedral, having previously started his cathedral career as Sub-Organist at Guildford Cathedral. At Portsmouth, over a period of thirteen years, he made many television and radio broadcasts with the choir and several highly acclaimed recordings.

He has given recitals in many British cathedrals, including St. Paul’s, St. Alban’s, Southwark, Coventry and York Minster, and is a percussionist with Southern Pro Musica. He has examined in many countries worldwide for ABRSM, most recently to Singapore and the USA. In 2000 and 2007 he directed the choir at Magdalen College, Oxford, as Acting Organist.

He has recorded two popular albums of organ and violin music with the Japanese violinist, Fuminori Shinozaki, on the Akane label. The first, Resonate Eternally, in Chichester Cathedral, and the second, Flourish Eternally, in Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford.

Please do join us in-person at St Mary’s Church, Portsea, and enjoy the opportunity to hear Anthony perform on our temporary digital organ, installed to support worship and recitals during the historic restoration of our 1889 J.W. Walker & Sons pipe organ.

Book your FREE ticket online now: https://orgproj.co/KxMw.


Profile: Tim Ravalde, organist, pianist, choral director and teacher

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career?

Inspiring teachers, fortunate opportunities, and varied musical experiences. I have had so many wonderful and brilliant mentors and teachers that I would struggle to name them all here; I have learnt something from all of them.

As for family background, my mother is a piano teacher and my father a vicar, so for me to end up as a church organist makes some sense. Three organ scholarships were significant opportunities for me: Carlisle Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral and St John’s College, Cambridge.

I can still remember Angela Hewitt and Peter Donohoe coming to give piano recitals in Penrith and Cockermouth when I was young. It is a reminder to me now that all performances are important, even if they might seem to be in the middle of nowhere. You don’t know who is there and what effect it might have on them.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

Cathedral organists learn on the job: because the ratio of rehearsal to performance is relatively low, we can end up making a lot our mistakes in public, especially in the early days. And no amount of solitary preparation can teach you how to accompany.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

In making music with others we have to sacrifice some autonomy; in return, we achieve things that are impossible on our own. Like in any healthy relationship, you have to listen in order to contribute.

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

No. I find the achievements of the greatest composers completely incomprehensible: the work ethic, imagination, control, and persistence are beyond me. I most admire those who can engage heart and mind simultaneously: Palestrina, Bach, Brahms.

Which works/performances are you most proud of?

I can’t remember!

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Practise: the standard expected of professional musicians, quite rightly, is high. Get as good as you can at sight reading: this unlocks many opportunities. Be flexible: play, sing, conduct, write, teach, improvise, compose, arrange, organise. You won’t be equally good at all these things, but you might be pleasantly surprised. Most viable musical careers are based on a variety of activities.

How would you define success as a musician?

Wanting to keep doing it.

What’s keeping you busy at the moment?

I’m always practising for whatever is coming next. Right now it’s Messiaen’s L’Ascension for a performance in Chichester Cathedral and after that it’ll be preparation for a recital in a few weeks’ time. Teaching is a constant, as is thinking about and taking rehearsals for Fernhurst Choral Society.


Since 2010 Tim has been the Assistant Organist of Chichester Cathedral where he is responsible for accompanying the Cathedral Choir for the daily services, as well as all concerts, tours, recordings, and broadcasts. He also assists Charles Harrison with the training of the choir.

He is a busy and experienced teacher of organ, piano and music theory, and many of his students succeeded in exams and auditions. He is the Organ Tutor at the University of Chichester, piano teacher at the Prebendal School, and also teaches privately.

Since 2011 he has been Musical Director of Fernhurst Choral Society, a large and busy SATB choir which gives regular concerts in West Sussex and Surrey.

He is a frequent organ recitalist, and has given concerts in numerous places around the UK, as well as in France and Germany. He is an experienced piano accompanist and has played with a large number of singers, instrumentalists and ensembles. He also appears on various recordings.

He gave the first performance of Terence Allbright’s Toccata for Organ in 2018 and recorded it in 2019. He made the first recording of Salve Regina by George Haynes in 2020. As organ accompanist, he has taken part in first performances of works by Gabriel Jackson, James Macmillan, John McCabe, Philip Moore and Frederick Stocken.

 He was educated at the Nelson Thomlinson School, Wigton, and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he studied music. He has held organ scholarships at Carlisle Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral and St John’s, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

Visit https://www.ravalde.uk for further information.


Concerts at St. Peters are returning!

Dear Concert Supporters,

A year after the first coronavirus lockdown, the people at St Peter’s Church are preparing plans to re-start the much-loved concert programme in the church.

Many of you will have heard the sad news of the death of David Francombe in 2020, to whom we owe a massive debt of gratitude for setting up the concert series and working tirelessly over the years to bring so much music to the town. A new team, led by Brenda James, is starting work on the continuation of his marvellous project.

You will be delighted to know that Mark Dancer has agreed to perform a special organ recital on Tuesday 17th July 2021 at 2.30pm. His programme will include a mixture of old favourites and feature music by two important composers with significant anniversaries this year: Sweelinck, a baroque virtuoso who died in 1621 and Saint-Saens, he of Carnival of the Animals and the Organ Symphony fame, who died a hundred years ago in 1921. A truly wonderful way to kickstart our concert programme. This is currently allowed under the Church of England’s Covid regulations.

In anticipation of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the summer, we are working on plans for a number of concerts in the autumn, and a full programme for 2022 and we would like to keep you informed about what’s coming up.

We look forward to offering you lots more musical delights in the near future!


The Organ Project: Organ Recital Series – Chris Milburn

Our 2021 monthly Organ Recital series continues with a LIVE virtual recital given by Chris Milburn on 15 April.

Chris Milburn first played an organ at the age of 8 and was hooked, first playing for a church service at 9. He was the full time church organist for St Bridget’s, Brean, by the age of 10. Chris continued in this role until going to university.

Chris was lucky enough to later learn on Wells Cathedral Organ, quickly finding that you could bribe vergers (with cake) to lock you in the cathedral for an hour or so in the evening. Chris continued to play whilst at university and found it was a great source of Sunday lunches with the church locals!

Chris spent his industrial year at ARE Portsdown and joined the choir of St Mary’s Church, Portsea. He also played for several services and most of the weddings during that year, and still gets invited to play for the odd service which is a great privilege. Chris is looking forward to entertaining a remote crowd with an unconventional repertoire at this organ recital!

Please do join us online LIVE and enjoy the opportunity to hear an alternative soundscape from our temporary digital organ, installed to support worship during the interregnum of our J.W. Walker & Sons pipe organ.

Watch the recital online at 7.30pm on 15 April.
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Don’t forget to view our restoration photo gallery online here *updated weekly*: https://orgproj.co/AAGp.

 


Profile: Sachin Gunga, singer, choral director, organist, and teacher

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career?

My parents were not musicians but always had music in their lives, and ensured immersion for my siblings and myself.

Peter Gould, then the Master of the Choristers at Derby Cathedral (and now retired to our area near Portsmouth) went round the schools looking for singing talent and that is how I managed to become a chorister there. I’d previously learnt the piano and violin but it was Tom Corfield, the assistant organist, who got me really interested in the organ: along with Peter, he was hugely influential and encouraging. Tom used to say, “the organ is not really an instrument; it’s a machine”, and showed me how to modulate its output by altering phrasing, length of notes, emphasis, tempo and sound.

Though I’m primarily now an instrumentalist, I still have a strong attachment to singing. The voice is a very personal instrument, and I believe music is expressed more sincerely when it is sung; the singer puts a little bit of themselves into the performance.

I studied Classics at Cambridge: I started to appreciate the bridge between language and music. My real love at this time was singing in the college and university choirs and playing in the orchestra, and after graduation I was able to stay on as the acting chapel organist for a year.

I then did a post-grad Master’s degree in Music at the Birmingham Conservatoire, under Henry Fairs. He did make sure I played the right notes, but was gently encouraging about interpretation.

I subsequently held organ scholarships at Truro Cathedral (under Chris Gray) and Wells Cathedral (under Matthew Owens), completing my ARCO diploma in 2011.

My first Assistant Organist position was at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff. Unfortunately I was made redundant after only a few months as it was suffering from financial issues, which made me question the stability of the job.

However I then spent ten months at Lincoln Cathedral as Acting Assistant Director of Music. This had a superb music department and a stunning organ. I much admired the improvising style of Colin Walsh, who used the harmonic influences of Langlais and Messiaen to great effect in the cathedral’s grand acoustic. Aric Prentice, Director of Music, was also a great inspiration.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

It’s been sometimes challenging to follow a professional music career without a music degree, but I benefited from spending two years studying at Birmingham, allowing additional time to improve my technique.

I’ve often been the accompanist for choirs, which to be effective especially with accomplished choirs needs a lot of communication with the MD: you need to be able to anticipate, and this is further complicated if you are sat up in the organ loft relying on a screen!

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

The job relies on close collaboration, and is so varied. I have found myself arranging for close harmony (at Llandaff this was for the “Low Rangers” group), and at the other extreme arranging for choral scholars here at Portsmouth Cathedral.

As a teacher, it’s great to work with younger people, especially when there’s the rhythm of regular services. It’s satisfying to teach them something new, to get the notes and interpretation sorted.

The pandemic has made things difficult in this respect, but the Cathedral team has shown itself to be adaptable, using Zoom and recordings to enable me to hear the individual voices, and then pulling in the recordings together for use in services. I’ve also taken this approach with the St Richard Singers, and with my separate “Hoc Exsilium” project I’ve made 13 virtual recordings of choral pieces (and counting). Listen to the most recent Hoc Exsilium recording (Allegri’s Miserere).

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

As an organist, I love Baroque music, but also a lot of C20th English composers, such as Howells: his Requiem is a favourite, as it is unaccompanied and very moving, speaking about the loss of his son. It can be very effective in the right acoustic. I also admire Elgar and Vaughan-Williams, balanced by C20th French composers such as Langlais and Duruflé.

Which works do you think you perform best?

Those pieces which I can connect to most closely emotionally.

Which works or performances are you most proud of?

One example of a close emotional connection, while I was in Wakefield, was a Passiontide service in which I conducted movements from Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St John Passion. I found this deeply moving, particularly the simple but heartfelt beauty of the Bach.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

While music is something certainly to be enjoyed, be prepared to put in the time and effort!

How are you keeping yourself usefully occupied and sane in the pandemic?

I am busy with a lot of different projects, including virtual choir practices, which have gone much better than I had expected. I am grateful that I am able to continue to play at the Cathedral. However I am also really looking forward to a return to normal music-making with full choirs and no need for social distancing.

When this happens, I hope that our audiences and congregations will give us their full support.

Please come and support St Richard Singers in its Come & Sing Stainer’s Crucifixion, either as a singer or viewer.

Born in Derby, Sachin trained as a chorister in Derby Cathedral Choir and studied organ under Dr Tom Corfield. He read Classics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, before going on to study for a Master’s degree at the Birmingham Conservatoire. He subsequently held organ scholarships at Truro Cathedral and Wells Cathedral, and assistantships at Llandaff, Lincoln (acting) and Wakefield Cathedrals.

Sachin has been Sub-Organist of Portsmouth Cathedral since January 2018, as well as School Organist of The Portsmouth Grammar School. In September 2019 he became Music Director of St Richard Singers in Chichester. In April 2020, he set up the Hoc Exsilium virtual choir project, an online initiative to give choral singers the opportunity to sing sacred works during lockdown.

Sachin lives in Portsmouth with his wife Hannah. He still enjoys singing, and maintains an interest in languages.

Here’s one of his organ solos on the Cathedral Facebook page (Bach’s O Mensch bewein’).


Chichester Music Press: a new publication by Rosemary Field

Please see the linked page below for this new publication: Veni Creator Spiritus by Rosemary Field (formerly sub-organist at Portsmouth Cathedral). It’s a fusion of traditional plainsong and a George Herbert text from 1633. The piece was written for what was then the Parish Choir at Portsmouth Cathedral, about 20 years ago.

Rosemary Field is the outgoing Deputy Director for Education of the RSCM, having previously held appointments in the dioceses of Portsmouth and Lincoln. She is a very experienced organist and choir trainer. I have two newly-published pieces by her to tell you about.

Veni Creator Spiritus is a clever fusion of the plainsong hymn with a text by George Herbert (The Starre). The texts are complementary and contrasted. That contrast is mirrored in the music; there are moments of word-painting and a few harmonic surprises, mostly to colour particular syllables. There is one very short de-synchronised moment where recitative style in the tenor part is set between regular note-values. The overall effect is layered and rhapsodic.

Then O Emmanuel is based on the last Advent (Magnificat) Antiphon, O Emmanuel. It centres on an insistently-building chorus of “Veni” as fits the calendar moment, contrasted with solid chordal writing for the ‘King and lawgiver’ line, and framed by imitative reflections on the opening phrase of the plainsong. It would suit a late-Advent service, form a pivot-point between prophecies and a Gospel reading, or sit in the classic pre-Evensong slot, being a cappella.

Read about Neil Sands and Chichester Music Press.


Profile: Brian Moles, organist, teacher, singer and composer

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career?

My musical beginnings were seeded when I was at a prep school and ended up joining a Parish choir in Windsor. The organist, Rick Erickson, also happened to be my school piano and singing teacher. He introduced a love and respect for choral music, in particular the music of Stanford and Vaughan Williams. He played a pivotal role in inspiring me to pursue music, even when I was having doubts during my teenage years.

Another great influence was Ron Ferris, who had taken on the role of Musical Director of Surrey Heath Choral Society at the time I was leaving school, and I took up the position of accompanist. He encouraged me to pursue my music career and to apply to Royal Holloway as an Organ Scholar, where I met Doctor (now Professor) Lionel Pike.

Lionel was another key influence for me – working with him as both lecturer and Director of the Chapel choir, I gained valuable insight and experience and cemented a love of choral music. I owe all three of them a debt of gratitude for the position I am in today.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

Finding the role that fits you as a musician, I would say, has been the challenge. After leaving University I was not entirely sure in which direction my career was going. My twenties saw me acting as a Cathedral assistant organist; teaching primary and secondary classroom music in schools; a peripatetic music teacher; a freelance conductor, and singing as a lay clerk in a cathedral.

It was only in 2009 that, when I moved to Portsmouth to take on the position of Organist and Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, that I found my feet, so to speak. Portsmouth has become my home and I am very happy living and working in the city, contributing to the musical life through teaching in schools, my work at the church, and helping support the outreach work at the Anglican Cathedral. It has also given me time to focus on composing and arranging too.

I’ve always sought those musical opportunities that present a challenge in various ways – be it collaborating to provide music for a new youth theatre production, working with a composer and fellow conductor to produce new music outside in the round in front of a fire for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, or laying down jazz piano and backing vocals for a rock album – all these challenges present new and refreshing opportunities which I enjoy doing and, I suppose, allowing me to appreciate the many different facets of the musical world.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a variety of musicians – both professional, semi-professional and amateur. Singing with a cathedral choir (St Albans) as a tenor lay clerk was a joy and delight: particularly to perform top quality music week in, week out, with a team of top-rate musicians and singers, was a real privilege.

Music is though a universal thing, and it’s been equally rewarding to introduce works to various different choirs and groups and to see them as they journey through from learning to enjoying this music, particularly if they felt it was beyond them. The reward of seeing others develop their musical abilities and confidence is an amazing thing: I’m proud to think I play a part in helping others be enlightened by music.

How would you describe your musical language?

There are definite English influences in my works – probably inspired by twentieth-century composers like Gerald Finzi and Herbert Howells. The harmonic language speaks to me and has always touched me in a profound way. If I could write as half as well as them, I would be happy! I’d like to think I follow in that English tradition. Recently I’ve developed a love of jazz and that idiom, and I am sure as my works mature there is more of an influence of this coming in too.

How do you work?

Often my compositions start life at the piano, exploring phrases and ideas. The ideas then grow out of that – in the old-fashioned way of pencil on manuscript paper! I then refine and often rewrite ideas to improve on what I have scribbled down, and then slowly bring the work together. This is true for all genres that I compose in – not just choral works (although these are my main compositional focus). I’ve written for various different instruments and genres, arranging as well as composing.

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

I’ve alluded to Howells and Finzi already, but I enjoy much of the 20th-century English world – I would add Vaughan Williams and Holst to that list. I have an appreciation for contemporary composers, but also equally a deep respect and admiration for the language of the Tudor world too. Some of the writing of English composers of the time of Henry VIII through to Elizabeth I (and beyond) is sublime and cannot be equalled.

Which works do you think you are able to perform best, and why?

Strangely, I enjoy performing contemporary works, or ones that challenge me. I think it’s the challenge of the new that I like, and I think respond well to.

Which works or performances are you most proud of?

That’s a hard one to answer – mainly due to the variety of performances that I have done, from directing large scale choir and orchestras, down to solo performances, or even working in the pit for staged musical productions, often producing music from scratch.

It’s equally rewarding helping young people take their first steps in performing, and seeing youngsters realise their potential is equally one that I gain great pleasure in.

I’ve been fortunate to work with the Anglican Cathedral in Portsmouth, helping deliver its outreach project to schools across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and it’s been wonderful to expose schoolchildren to a world of different musical styles they wouldn’t normally encounter – from great cathedral music to folk songs, even some Christmas carols! It’s amazing to be a part of that experience for them.

As a composer, recently I had a work premiered by the choir at St German’s Cathedral on the Isle of Man for their 40th anniversary of consecration – to see a work come to fruition and the response it had from both performers and those in attendance at its premiere has also been memorable.

What are your most memorable concert experiences?

I recall many choral evensongs sung and played whilst at university – singing the Great Service by William Byrd on a sultry June afternoon with the sounds of the choir echoing around the college chapel stick in my mind, or the performance of Walton’s Coronation Te Deum, at which I played the organ.

I was fortunate to be able to sing many concerts and services with the Cathedral choir in St Albans, and there are particular ones that stick in my mind, including a performance of the Messe Solennelle by Langlais in a three choirs’ concert, that was scintillating!

Being able to conduct a performance of Duruflé Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria with choir and orchestra in aid of the Music Foundation at St Mary’s was another moment that sticks in my mind, amongst many. There are many performances where the combination of the music, the performance and atmosphere have combined in such a way as to leave a mark on the memory.

Sometimes, however, the most memorable experiences don’t come from the singing – there have been moments in concert tours and the associated escapades related to them – quite often the music being enhanced by the musical escapades and anecdotes associated with them!

One such experience was helping page turn for an organ whilst holding up the front panel of the pedalboard which had come off mid concert! The organ was situated behind the audience, but the choir was able to see the whole thing and fought hard not to laugh at the sight of me comically holding the organ together. The organist was unfazed however, and finished playing to a resounding cheer. Moments like that sometimes make a concert.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Don’t give up! It’s a hard graft and it will take you on a path you sometimes don’t expect. Be prepared for challenges, opportunities and also things to go in strange directions at times – sometimes things don’t go the way you would like, but don’t despair and keep doing what you believe in and love, and you will persevere.

How would you define success as a musician?

The legacy we leave as performers, composers, and teachers – helping inspire others through our contribution to life and society through our musical endeavours. Whether big or small, the impact can make a difference to people, and to be able to do that, in whatever means, I think is a measure of success and is something I strive through, by directing, teaching, performing, and composing.

How are you keeping yourself usefully occupied and sane under lockdown?

Teaching on-line, recording, and through rehearsals over Zoom. It’s great to be able to see people in choirs on the screen and have that sense of connectivity. To help them with some kind of musical element to their lives is important, and whilst it can be strangely eerie playing through a piece and then the silence that follows, it’s reassuring to turn back and see faces smiling back and appreciating the music. It is the thought that there IS an end where we can get back together to make music that acts as a beacon of hope – music is a unifying force and it’s vital to keep people engaged with it, even from afar.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I honestly don’t know, but I hope I am still able to educate, inspire and encourage people through music, wherever I am!

What is your present state of mind?

Probably similar to many others! Frustrated, but hopefully we’ll weather this and looking forward to the future with hope.

 

Brian Moles is an organist, teacher, singer and composer, based in Portsmouth. A Masters in Music Graduate from Royal Holloway, University of London, he was both an Organ and Choral Scholar and, for a time, acting Director of Music of the Chapel Choir. For many years he had a diverse career, including the posts of Assistant Organist at St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff, Tenor Lay Clerk at St Albans Cathedral, whilst maintaining a busy career as a teacher: teaching both in the classroom and as a peripatetic, and as a freelance musician directing, performing, composing and singing with various choirs and musical groups.

He is currently Director of Music at St Mary’s Church in Portsmouth, where he leads the mixed voice choir, alongside a career teaching across the city, as well as helping deliver a successful musical outreach programme at Portsmouth Cathedral.

His work as an accompanist has seen him play with a variety of different choirs and group and in various genres, from working with small chamber choirs to Choral Societies, across all ages and abilities. He has made several performances on both Radio and TV, most notably as accompanist on BBC Songs of Praise, recorded at St. Mary’s. He is currently the accompanist for Fareham Philharmonic Choir.

As a musical director, he has also worked with a diverse variety of different choirs and musical groups – from acting as MD for shows presented by young people in theatres in Portsmouth and Winchester, to helping direct the shows for the National Youth Music Camps, based in Milton Keynes. He helped conduct a performance of Fire by David Bruce, as part of the cultural Olympiad in 2012, with Jeremy Backhouse and the Salisbury Community Choir – which was broadcast on Radio 4 that same year.

His work as a composer is widespread, with a variety of different works for various different genres, and performed across the UK and abroad, with many pieces commissioned, composed and performed by cathedral choirs, choral societies, and mixed ability school choirs. His music and style have been described as “sympathetic and approachable, and yet musically interesting and often with a complexity that encourages and enthuses performers of all abilities, often allowing them to realise their potential.” Works extend from simple choral motets, to a full-scale symphonic Requiem. Recent works have included a mass setting written for Portsmouth Cathedral choir, and a setting of the Te Deum Laudamus commissioned by Peel Cathedral on the Isle of Man, for the 40th Anniversary of their consecration.

Brian will be giving a recital of organ music from St Mary’s Church, streamed on the Organ Project’s page, on Thursday March 4th at 7:30pm. Please do visit www.theorganproject.org for more information.


Chichester Cathedral lunchtime concerts resume

At 1pm on Tuesday 23rd February, Chichester Cathedral’s weekly lunchtime concert series will resume, online, for five weeks. Details of programmes and performers can be found on the cathedral website or by downloading the Chichester Cathedral spring 2021 lunchtime programme.

Each concert will be preceded by a short talk on the programme led by the Cathedral’s assistant organist Tim Ravalde. You can register for these by following this link: Register for pre-concert talks on Zoom.

Future concerts:
Tuesday 23 February, 1.00pm – Charles Harrison, organ – watch this on YouTube
Tuesday 2 March 2021, 1.00pm – Tim Ravalde, organ – watch this on YouTube
Tuesday 9 March 2021, 1.00pm – David Alexander, piano – watch the pre-concert talk and watch the recital
Tuesday 16 March 2021, 1.00pm – Louise Salmond Smith, recorder, and Charles Harrison, piano – watch the pre-concert talk by Louise and watch the recital
Tuesday 23 March 2021, 1.00pm – Maria Luc, piano

Tim says, “We look forward to welcoming our community and beyond back to the Cathedral’s Nave for the irreplaceable experience of enjoying live music in person. Until then, we invite you to join us online for music by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Franck, Handel, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Telemann, Widor and more.”


The Organ Project: Organ Recital Series – Brian Moles

Our 2021 monthly Organ Recital series continues with a recital given by Brian Moles on March 4th, which will premiere on our YouTube channel at 19.30.

Brian Moles is Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, Portsea. His work as an accompanist covers a variety of fields, from classical to popular; accompanying solo recitals through to forming and leading bands in shows for theatre in all different genres. As an organist and recitalist, he is often in demand, most recently playing at Durham Cathedral. His work as a composer and arranger is widespread, with a variety of works for sacred and non-sacred genres, performing across the UK and abroad.

Our J.W. Walker & Sons pipe organ is currently being restored by Nicholson & Co. Ltd, and we hope to celebrate its re-dedication in late 2021. We still have some way to go on our fundraising; please consider sponsoring a pipe: https://orgproj.co/MxTC.

Programme

This recital will use the New English Hymnal as a starting point. Churches like St Mary’s, Portsea, would normally resound to the strains of great and glorious hymnody during the church year, with congregations and choir in chorus with the organ, singing the great songs of old throughout the seasons. Unfortunately that isn’t possible at present, so Brian Moles presents a different way of approaching these familiar tunes and melodies.

As with the New English Hymnal, this recital takes us on a journey from Advent, through Christmas and Epiphany, into Lent, Passiontide and Easter.


An interview with Neil Sands, founder of Chichester Music Press

Why was Chichester Music Press founded by you in 2003?

Chichester Music Press (CMP) was originally a vehicle for me to publish my own music. I’d not had any success trying to interest publishers in my music. Then one day, in the bath actually, it occurred to me that I had the skills to be able to publish myself. I was already working as a freelance music typesetter, having served an 18-month apprenticeship to learn the art. This is different from merely being a musician who owns Sibelius. I also had the skills to build a functional website, which was a different proposition in 2003 from today. I wrote all the HTML by hand and programmed the scripts which handle the shop and the catalogue myself. Once I had a website functioning as a shop window, very soon other composers wanted to come on board. Now there are nearly 40 of us!

What does CMP do?

The CMP publishes new choral music for liturgical use, which usually means small-scale pieces which can be used in C of E or RC services. The first part of the job is to select which music to take on, from the wealth of music offered to me. I can’t take it all – there’s simply too much of it.

Next, I prepare an edition from the score supplied by the composer. Usually these are in PDF format, but I can take Sibelius, Finale, Musescore or my favourite Dorico. I always typeset them again completely from scratch, for two reasons: one, because it allows me to have a consistent set of house styles which are recognisably CMP, and two because with the best will in the world composers are not routinely schooled in music typography, and there are always blemishes to fix!

Once my edition is ready it gets proofread by the composer. Then I prepare an audio version, using Dorico’s own sounds and Voices of Prague, and that ends up on the website alongside the catalogue entry for the piece. For any new score you can sit down at the website and read the score through and hear the audio I’ve made (or in some cases I’m able to use a real live performance), so you can always see and hear exactly what you’re buying. This is a bonus, because ordinarily you wouldn’t expect to be able to peruse an entire score on a publisher’s website, so you are to an extent buying blind.

Once a piece is ready, it’s time to tell the world, through my mailing list and through posts on social media, and hopefully the word begins to spread.

What is special (or unique) about CMP? Why do composers like to work with CMP?

Because I am small, I can move quickly. I’m proud of how fast I can turn a score around sometimes, if a composer approaches me to publish some music in time for a performance that’s already in the diary. I always have a lot of pieces in the queue, but I can bump things to the front if they’re needed in a hurry. Thanks to my background as a trained typesetter I can produce a nice, swish, professional-looking score quickly and efficiently.

What kinds of music does it tend to specialise in?

The CMP publishes new music aimed at church and cathedral choirs. Most of the composers work in church music, as organists or as the directors of cathedral choirs etc. We have a very healthy set of mass settings and canticles for evensong available, and these are the mainstay of church and cathedral choir repertoire. But I like to concentrate on more unusual music, for example settings of lesser-known texts to be sung as introits or anthems. These aren’t always specifically religious, by the way – some of them are secular but useful nevertheless in Christian worship, for example for Remembrance.

Have there been any milestones during the history of CMP – composers “launched, and so on?

I knew I was onto something special when I published an evening service by Francis Jackson, his St Bride’s Service. Francis has been a giant in the world of choral music for many decades, and we published St Bride’s on his 100th birthday in 2017. He’s still going strong at the age of 103. I was absolutely over the moon to bring his St Bride’s Service to the world. He’d written it for the choir of St Bride’s Church in London in the 1970s, but I’ve been able to make it available more widely for the first time.

Which composers would you like our readers to be especially aware of right now?

Some of my recent signings are Charles Paterson, Rosemary Field, Simon Mold, Sarah MacDonald, Graham Keitch and Alastair Borthwick. You can read the list here.

What else do you do in your spare time? 

I play the organ and direct the choir at St Richard’s Church in Chichester. Since a recent illness I bizarrely can no longer sing alto, and the opportunities to do so during the pandemic are few and far between anyway. Outside music, I am a keen astronomer, and at the moment am taking as many photos as I can of features on the moon. The weather has not been favourable for that in recent months, however!

Neil Sands, a professional music typesetter, founded Chichester Music Press in 2003. He studied Composition at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and subsequently at the University of Wales in Bangor.

Neil plays the organ and directs the choir at St Richard’s Church in Chichester. He has sung with Chichester’s Chantry Quire, and sang for a year with Chichester Cathedral choir as a countertenor. More recently, he has sung as a dep with Portsmouth Cathedral choir.

He has also been Musical Director of Bognor Regis Choir, and of Chichester Amateur Operatic Society, mounting Annie Get Your Gun in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. Previously, he was the conductor of the Portsmouth University Choral Union, the University of Wales’ Aberystwyth Elizabethan Madrigal Singers, and Aberystwyth’s Showtime Singers.

Neil has taught music composition at Chichester’s Prebendal School, as well as teaching music theory, composition and piano to private pupils. He’s done some programming for Sibelius, and several of his plugins ship with the program. He served as Technical Editor for the Sibelius tutor book Sibelius 7 Music Notation Essentials. He has also worked as an English and Welsh teacher, and as a newsreader for Radio Manhattan in Łódź in Poland.


Profile: Philip Drew, singer, choral trainer, organist, recorder and crumhorn player, composer and teacher

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career or interest in music?

I was born and bred in Portsmouth and sang in the choir of St Mark’s church where I also had my first organ lessons under Russell Shepherd.  I first studied singing with Freda Foster while in the 6th form, and took an Honours Music degree and Post Graduate Certificate in Education at Durham University.

Both my parents were from musical families and my maternal grandfather played in the Royal Marines Artillery Band before joining what is now the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as principal trombonist. My mother had 14 cousins in military bands!

My mother developed in me a love of musical theatre but since the countertenor voice is not used in this genre, my own involvement has been mainly back stage, particularly in lighting.  Indeed I am the only person to have made the transition from lighting designer to musical director in the history of Durham University Light Opera Group!

My choral experience has included a choral scholarship at Durham Cathedral and a lay-clerk’s post at Llandaff Cathedral (where I taught in the Cathedral school). While in Cardiff I continued my singing studies with the redoubtable Mme Hilger at the Welsh College of Music and Drama and subsequently with Andrew Phillips who trained me for my singing teaching diploma. Subsequently I have been a deputy singer at Guildford and Chichester Cathedrals for several years.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

“Dep-ing” can be exciting and challenging, as it often consists of one short rehearsal before a service. You have to think on your feet. I can recall significant challenges when singing Tippett’s Canticles in Guildford with its modern idiom and Grayston Ives’ Edington Service in St Paul’s, with its enormous echo.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I have so much enjoyed the wonderful collaborative effort of singing the daily service in a Cathedral choir. I also enjoy the challenges of accompanying singers or instrumentalists on piano or organ.

I am currently playing organ duets with David Hansell. If we’re both at the keyboard, one can imagine the potential for the clashes of four hands and four feet! It’s hard to play the pedals because this is usually done by feel and in this instance we’re not sitting in our normal positions. If we are playing on two separate organs, these may be positioned up to 40’ apart, which means that you have to rely on visual rather than audible clues, especially in echoey churches such as the Church of the Holy Spirit in Southsea (where I am director of music).

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

I admire two English composers in particular: William Byrd and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. Both were by all accounts extremely likeable and gifted. Byrd was uncompromising about his Catholic faith, and wrote a huge number of pieces, most of which are a joy to perform. Vaughan-Williams especially considered the needs and abilities of amateur groups, encouraging them to have a go: “It’s better to do something badly than not at all”.

Which works do you think you perform best, and enjoy?

I love some of the organ music written in the late 18th and early 19th century, such as by John Stanley, Charles Burney, Samuel Wesley and his son Samuel Sebastian Wesley. They are elegant in style, melodic and very useful for voluntaries! It may be of interest that their works were not written for organs with pedals. Such an innovation only appeared from after the time when Mendelssohn visited Britain in 1829. Instead, the manuals were larger, with the keyboards sometimes extending down to the F below bottom C.

What have been your most memorable performing experiences?

In 1988 I was asked to set some Edward Thomas WW1 poems to music for a performance in Steep Church. Thomas composed many of his poems in the village.  I set A Collection of Birds for countertenor, piano, cello and flute and sang in the performance. Michael Hordern (of Paddington Bear voice-over fame) was also at the event reading some of the poems which had not been set to music. The influence of both Vaughan-Williams and Messiaen can be heard in the piece.

At the funeral service for Bishop Ian Ramsey at Durham Cathedral, Conrad Eden deafened the choir for the Alleluia in For all the Saints by using the big tuba stop. There wasn’t a dry eye in the building.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

If you are looking at a professional career, go for it, but expect to have to practise hard and keep on top of things. Don’t give up if you are rejected. It’s not in itself a means of making much money, but you can earn money by teaching. And since they have experience of managing people, musicians are also often well-suited to working in HR!

How are you keeping yourself busy?

My music-making at the Church of the Holy Spirit and teaching voice at Chichester University is keeping going. The current hiatus has also allowed me to research aspects of musical theatre, which has helped with my teaching. I regularly record myself playing the organ for the church’s Facebook page.

I would like to encourage singers to keep singing, to practise daily and prepare for when they will be able to sing together again.

Philip Drew was born in Portsmouth in 1951. He started taking piano lessons at the age of 8 and his first involvement with church music was in the choir of St Mark’s Church, Portsea. He went on to learn the organ with the Organist and Choirmaster, Russell Shepherd. He read for an Honours degree in Music at the University of Durham where he was also a choral scholar in the Cathedral Choir. He continued his organ studies first with Conrad Eden and later with Alan Thurlow.

He took up a post as Alto Lay Clerk in Llandaff Cathedral Choir in 1975 and taught in the Cathedral School. In 1979 he became organist and choirmaster at Christchurch, Llanishen in Cardiff. 1981 saw a move to Derbyshire to be Director of Music in a boarding preparatory school. Then in December 1982, Philip moved back to Portsmouth as organist and choirmaster at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Southsea.

As well as his work at Holy Spirit Church, Philip is a visiting teacher of Singing at the University of Chichester. He has given organ recitals and accompanied choirs and choral societies in many venues in South Wales, Derbyshire and Southern England including playing regularly in the Tuesday lunchtime recital series at Marlborough Rd Methodist Church in St Albans. He also conducts the choirs Wyndcliffe Voices and Cantores Vagantes.

Philip is widowed with two grown-up, married children and four grandchildren. Interests outside of music include Trains, Buses, Architecture and brewing and drinking real ale.


Lockdown organ recital live from St Mary’s Petworth

Matthew Cooke, organist at St Mary’s Petworth, is offering a fundraising live-streamed organ recital from the church.

Featuring French, German and English music, it will take place on Sunday, January 31 at 5pm and will be live streamed simultaneously on St Mary’s Petworth Facebook page and the church’s YouTube channel.

If you can’t listen at the time, you will be able to catch up with it after the event. Hopefully this event will go some way to helping to lift people’s spirits at this time of the pandemic. The programme will last around 35 minutes and is shown below.

The recital will be free to view – however, donations to church funds would be much appreciated at this time – these may be made via the link on St Mary’s website.

PROGRAMME
Coronation March (Le Prophete) Meyerbeer (transcribed by Bryan Hesford)
Chorale Prelude on ‘Abridge’ C S Lang
Violin Concerto in G: 1st movement (Allegro) Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe Weimar (transcribed by J S Bach)
Double Violin Concerto: 2nd movement (Largo ma non tanto) J S Bach (transcribed by Dom Gregory Murray)
Fanfare: ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ Christopher Tambling
Le jardin suspendu Jehan Alain
Chanson d’amour Gabriel Faure (transcribed by Martin Setchell)
Litanies Jehan Alain

Read more at the link below.


Experience the J.W. Walker & Sons organ in St Mary’s Church, Portsea, for one last time before restoration commences

At 7pm on Tuesday October 13, we will introduce you to The Organ Project, take you on a live video tour of the inside of the organ, present our plans for restoration and demonstrate this unique, awe-inspiring instrument.

Hosted by expert consultant, Dr William McVicker, Andrew Caskie of Nicholsons & Co. Ltd, Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Bob White, and project manager, Matt Dixon, we will guide you through our final Restoration Policy and present the current condition of the instrument, via a 12ft screen, console cameras and projector.

Interspersed with performances by Andrew and William, this Open Evening will encourage discussion about the what, why and how of our approach to restoring this fine 1889 instrument.

To book your free ticket, please visit Eventbrite here: https://orgproj.co/Hy8V.

Also on Noticeboard here.


The Organ Project at St Mary’s Portsea: join us for the last opportunity to hear the organ in concert before late 2021!

Join us for the last opportunity to hear the organ in concert before late 2021!

We will be closing our 2020 FREE monthly Organ Recital series with the fantastic John Sharples, ARCO, on the 1st October at 7.30pm, at St Mary’s Church, Portsea. Later in October, the organ will be removed for complete restoration – don’t miss the last chance to hear it before late 2021!

Previously an organist at Lambeth Palace, John Sharples is currently an Assistant Organist at Arundel Cathedral and has prepared a really exciting programme, including Elgar, Fasch and The Cat Suite (Prelude, Cats at play, Catnap and Toc-cat-a) by Denis Bedard.

Please do join us for a safe, socially distanced concert and enjoy the last opportunity to listen to our fantastic J.W. Walker & Sons pipe organ before historic restoration. Our console cameras and large screen will be installed for a close up of the performance.

View the full recital programme and book your free tickets online here: https://orgproj.co/UH44, or call the Project Manager, Matt Dixon on 02393 190998.

Concert page here.

 


Profile: Clive Osgood, organist, pianist, conductor and composer

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career?

I have had a number of great teachers (instrumental and at university) who have inspired my interest in music. I could not easily name them all!

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

I’ve always had an interest in 18th-century music, so much so that I did a Masters in Musicology specialising in that era. My favourite composer is Mozart, but as an organist Bach has to come a close second. Quite by contrast, I also admire a number of contemporary composers who have explored new ways of expressing tonal music (e.g. Pärt, Richter, Glass etc.). My music is in the classical tradition: it’s injected with elements of jazz harmony and the rhythmic vitality of Latin American music.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

Covid-19 has been a huge challenge to achieving a good work/life balance, as I have had to step in to home-school my two children while my wife (a nurse) goes to a stressful job.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

I very much enjoy playing chamber music and working with choirs. I am currently writing music based on Alice in Wonderland, in collaboration with the composer Hugh Benham. This is being recorded in September by Convivium Records and which will be released early in 2021.

How would you describe your musical language?

Tonal: I am interested in the fusion of 18th-century forms with 20th-century rhythms and harmony.

How do you work?

I often head off to my church (where I am the director of music) where I can compose without distractions. I use Sibelius and tend to work through many drafts.

Which works/performances are you most proud of?

I am particularly proud of my Sacred Choral Music album under Robert Lewis, Excelsis Choir and the London Mozart Players which was launched last year.

Which works do you think you perform best?

I am an organist, so possibly Bach.

What are your most memorable concert experiences?

I have had the opportunity of having compositions performed in a complete concert last year in the Grayshott Concerts, as well as a big performance of my music in St Paul’s and on another occasion in front of the Queen at Reed’s School, where I teach.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Be reliable and careful about treading the line between self-promotion and modesty. And only do it if you enjoy it – it’s not generally very rewarding financially.

How would you define success as a musician?

Putting the music first.

How are you keeping yourself usefully occupied and sane under lockdown?

With difficulty – I have been home-schooling!

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

In good health.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Achieving something, then sitting back to enjoy it – finishing a composition or watching the view from the top of a hill.

What is your most treasured possession?

My photo albums (I would also be inclined to rescue my Mozart CD box set from a burning building!).

What do you enjoy doing most?

Visiting new places.

What is your present state of mind?

Not too bad considering…

Clive Osgood is a composer, accompanist, organist and music teacher living near Haslemere. He is currently Director of Music and Organist at the Parish Church of St Bartholomew’s in Haslemere, Surrey and teaches ‘A’ Level Music at Reed’s School, Cobham. He is available for tuition in Piano, Jazz Piano, Organ and music theory. Visit https://www.cliveosgood.com to find out more about him and his compositions.


Profile: Andrew Cleary, organist, pianist, teacher and conductor

Who and what have been the main influencers on your decision to pursue a career in music?

Singing was always important in my family – my grandmother was a life-long member of the Hull Choral Union, I attended their concerts regularly from a young age, and my father still sings with the York Music Society – so it was not unusual that I become a chorister at the age of 7 at York Minster. When my family moved to St Albans at the age of 11, I sang in the Abbey choir there, and it was there that I had organ lessons with Stephen Darlington.

I gained an early interest in musical theatre in the Sixth Form at school, working with the National Youth Music Theatre, and going to the Edinburgh Festival to perform in the Band for productions of “Oliver” and “Annie”.

I read music, specialising in performance and conducting, at the University of East Anglia, where I was also organ scholar at Norwich Cathedral. I developed a love of the Baroque repertoire under Robert Wooley, and worked with the Norwich Philharmonic Choir and the Aldeburgh Festival Chorus.

Later I moved to study as a postgrad at the Royal College of Music, specialising in early music and performance. Nick Danby challenged me to play the organ with a glass of beer on my wrist!

I became Assistant Organist at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, making regular broadcasts for BBC Radio and television and directing the St Martin’s Scholars and the vocal Ensemble Le Nuove Musiche. One memorable experience was playing the organ in the memorial service for Frankie Howard, where Griff Rhys Jones and Rowan Atkinson gave some of the tributes.

After various posts teaching music at schools, I settled in Portsmouth as Director of Music at The Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS), where I worked closely with the Chamber Choir and the London Mozart Players, commissioning works from Sally Beamish, Cecilia MacDowell and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. I also set up and then directed the Portsmouth Cathedral Girls’ Choir, Cantate.

When working with PMD on a challenging Remembrance Day commission, The Five Acts of Harry Patch, I was struck by Maxwell Davies’ lack of condescension having provided us with quite a challenging work: “do not patronise young musicians, they can always do it, however challenging!”

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

The current lockdown has presented plenty of challenges for my musical groups, but we are starting rehearsals on Zoom shortly. We are keeping it simple, not doing whole performances but working on vocal technique, and enjoying the social side. It’s important to continue, to keep the flame alight amongst choral ensembles in preparation for times when it is safe to meet, rehearse and perform together.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

Music-making is inherently sociable and creative, and it is great to work with such fantastic musicians, young and old, to achieve such rewarding and special opportunities together…

How would you describe your musical language?

It’s very varied! I enjoy most styles of music, from Renaissance choral works through to jazz and (some) pop! I have been lucky enough to have been exposed to the wonderful repertoire of the English cathedral tradition, but equally I am now involved with the teaching and production of music theatre and jazz.

Which works/performances are you most proud of?

I’ve already mentioned my association with the London Mozart Players. We did a St John Passion together which was highly memorable. Other memorable performances include Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, rehearsed over a weekend in the Royal Festival Hall; a production of Dido and Aeneas at the New Theatre Royal; a superb Christmas concert with the Milton Glee Choir and Royal Marines Association Band last year; and a recording of works for Remembrance with PGS, again with the London Mozart Players.

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

I’ve got wide interests in keyboard and choral music, from Tallis to Gospel, from Bach and Mendelssohn through to Gershwin, Sondheim and Freddie Mercury. Church organists have to improvise during services and this approach appeals to me, leading me to find an interest in jazz piano. During lockdown I have recorded and broadcast a series of well-known jazz ‘muses’ on YouTube and Facebook.

Which works do you think you perform best?

I love performing choral works, such as those by Bach, Handel and Mozart, as well as the wide variety of the English cathedral repertoire, but equally I enjoy performing solo roles such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Conducting the PGS Chamber Choir at the Royal Albert Hall in the annual televised Festival of Remembrance on BBC television. I conducted the massed Bands and PGS Chamber Choir, in the work entitled They shall not grow old, with Bryn Terfel and Catherine Jenkins.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Keep an open mind on the kinds of music you will most like to perform, don’t put yourself in a box too early. Work and practice hard. Muck in, if only to gain credibility and experience. And listen to others’ advice!

How would you define success as a musician/composer?

Having an ability to inspire others, through listening and participation, to appreciate and experience the power and thrill of all kinds of music, and enabling inclusive music-making to all ages and abilities.

Andrew Cleary is a freelance teacher, accompanist, organist, choral director, conductor and examiner. He works at the University of Chichester as an Associate Lecturer, vocal coach and répétiteur, especially with students of musical theatre, and also at Portsmouth High School as a singing teacher. He conducts the Fareham Philharmonic Choir and the Milton Glee Choir, is the Assistant MD of the Lee Choral Society and is Music Director and Organist at St Peter’s Church, Bishop’s Waltham.

He always welcomes new members to join his choirs and even during his virtual rehearsals singers are encouraged to sign up and join.

The Fareham Philharmonic Choir has re-scheduled its performance of Bach’s St John Passion, postponed due to lockdown, to 6 March 2021 in Chichester Cathedral.

Andrew Cleary on MiP: https://musicinportsmouth.co.uk/?s=cleary


Profile: David Price, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Portsmouth Cathedral

I was a chorister at Bath Abbey and right from the start was enthralled by the noise from the organ. So, I started with piano at the age of nine. In those days one needed to be proficient at the piano before starting on the organ; these days, it’s easier: churches are welcoming to new organists, providing a performing space.

I recall the pain of finishing being a treble and having to leave the choir. I really sympathise with the plight of boy trebles whose voices are breaking during the current lockdown: they cannot complete their time as trebles.

But I carried on developing my skills as an organist, playing in a weekly service in the Georgian chapel of St John’s Hospice by the Roman baths. Once admonished by the vicar for starting a hymn too slowly, I now always ensure that hymns go at a good pace! I also played the organ in my village church.

My big break was when I attended the Royal School of Church Music 14-day course at Canterbury Cathedral, when I tried out being a chorister for 14 days, and loved it.

By the age of fifteen, I’d decided to be a church organist. This was met with some scepticism, though also support, by my parents.

Who have been the main influencers on your decision to pursue a career in music?

Marcus Sealy was assistant organist at Bath Abbey for 42 years, and a superb role model: he introduced interesting repertoire, and was a great accompanist.

I studied music at Trinity College, London. This was originally established as a training college for church musicians. It has some fabulous stained-glass windows with images of music in the context of worship.

I attended daily evensongs at Westminster Abbey. Its assistant organist Andrew Lumsden, now director of music at Winchester Cathedral, was also greatly influential, encouraging me to observe him playing its great instrument. Christopher Stokes (Organist of St Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey) showed me how to be a grounded church musician, leading choirs as well as playing the organ extremely well.

After in the course of my studies I did an apprenticeship for two years at Croydon Parish Church, where I assisted with the running of a boys’ and a girls’ choir, followed by a stint as Organ Scholar at Rochester Cathedral. Barry Ferguson and Roger Sayer (now organist at Temple Church in London) showed me how to efficiently manage the interactions with the chapter and congregation. This was my first experience of a boarding choir school, where youngsters rehearsed and performed an evensong every day.

While I was at Rochester, we did some great tours to France, Germany and Switzerland – these were early days for choirs going abroad – which included some recordings. For my sins as the organ scholar I was the tour librarian, with quite a challenge to ensure that all the music needed for two weeks away was available! This was before the days of bespoke booklets.

I can recall how I had to play at a service in Trier Cathedral at short notice. Roger Sayer is a brilliant organist but he does not have a good head for heights. Its glorious and vast cathedral is set against a high Roman wall with the console 120 ft up in the air. In order to access the organ, one had to go onto the roof of the north transept, then descend to the triforium gallery down a ladder to reach the “eagle’s nest”. This proved too much for Roger. I also recall how difficult it was to synchronise with the choir, as they were so far away.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

After five years as Assistant Organist of Ely Cathedral, I became director of music at Portsmouth Cathedral, the youngest cathedral organist at that time. Young choristers need to learn the repertoire in time for the services, and there’s always a lot to do to arrange the experienced and less-experienced singers, as well as to manage the expectations of their parents.

Those early days were challenging, as I had to solve a lot of these challenges on my own, but we’ve developed strategies to improve things a great deal: there’s a whole supporting structure around the choristers, including three “choir matrons”, a librarian and gap year students besides the adult singers. The mixture of ages in the choirs gives them strength. The one remaining major challenge is around finance, especially because of Covid-19, where our income has been reduced by a third.

How would you describe your musical language?

I’ve a lot of interests in sounds, colour and textures, less on melody. I’m interested in the “stuff underneath” rather than a pretty tune, and how the voices interact with the texts.

How do you work?

Laboriously and slowly! I do envy people like David Briggs, who can Hear” music and transcribe a whole piece during one transatlantic plane journey! And cathedral musicians are still expected to write from time to time, for example if a new Bishop is being installed.

Which works/performances are you most proud of?

I am proud of my setting of the St John Passion we do most Good Fridays – much more of a prayer than a concert. Also we put on a Messiah every year, with the use of period instruments which always goes down well: it’s true to the original, with a neat ensemble of period instruments with voices from a wide range of ages.

There is a special relationship between the cathedral and the city of Portsmouth, with unique “threads”. I’ve been involved with many special events associated with the Royal Navy, including the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy in 2004.

On that occasion I led the voices singing a piece entitled D-Day 60: Valete in Pace by Harvey Brough in Caen Abbey, along with Fauré’s Requiem. The Brough piece was commissioned by Portsmouth City Council, and included a libretto by Lee Hall (he of Billy Elliot fame). It was most moving to hear French, German and British performers accompanied by the London Mozart Players. We also sang in the Bayeux Cemetery in the presence of HM The Queen, The Prime Minister and President of France.

Collaborating with Colin White from the Royal Maritime Museum, we recorded a CD with music to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s funeral in 2006. We went on tour with it and also had it featured on an episode of BBC Radio 3’s In Tune.

This in turn led to repeat annual tours for the choir– I’ve actually completed 25 of these, culminating earlier this year with a visit to Finland.

The choir has been involved with various events on HMS Victory as well as the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the aircraft carrier, in 2018 again in the presence of The Queen. It was a particular delight to sing Byrd’s miniature Tudor masterpiece O Lorde, save thy servant, Elizabeth our Queen on board a Queen Elizabeth The First Class warship and to Queen Elizabeth The Second.

Over the years I have recorded eighteen CDs. I’m most proud of a recording made at Ely in the medieval Lady Chapel of the music of Restoration composer, John Amner which was selected as Editor’s Choice.

In Portsmouth we’ve been able to collaborate with two excellent recording companies; HeraldAV who have a huge international portfolio, and also with Convivium Records, run by one of our Lay Clerks that has been steadily building a most impressive catalogue over the last ten years. From these two I would select a CD of Plainsong: The Echo of Angels from Convivium Records – a selection of Gregorian Chant – music that is at the foundation of all Western Classical music and sung in its original form and context. Hear Missa de Angelis: Kyrie on YouTube.

The second would be a release in 2019 from Herald Av of the music of Advent and Christmas Verbum caro factum est– and for two years how this has featured daily on Classic FM. I’m hugely proud of all the young people, aged from 7 upwards who have taken part in these recordings alongside our professional adults. Hear Gaudete (arr. Fitzgerald) performed in Ypres Cathedral as featured on our CD on YouTube. The CD is available to buy via this link.

Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?

Given my comments about musical language above, you won’t be surprised that I love composers such as Jackson, Stopford, Gorecki, Pärt and Tavener.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Do it! Don’t be put off by relatively low salaries: it’s vital to find a job that makes you happy.

How would you define success as a musician/composer?

Feeling fulfilled and happy in a role.

There is something very special about being part of a community of musicians such as one finds here at Portsmouth Cathedral. Compared to jobbing musicians, for cathedral musicians here there’s continuity around the building and the rhythm of worship. And that is satisfying.

Continuing to work during lockdown

We are working hard to carry on with this tradition during lockdown via Zoom, which enables us to keep our skills sharp and to brush up on complex repertoire, although we need to get back together soon so as to craft the homogeneity of sounds. I’m part of a group of people working with the RSCM to advise church authorities on how to get music back in a safe manner. It’s hard work but we will get there. Here’s an article about my work with the Bishop of London’s Recovery Group.

If you want to know more about the music programme at Portsmouth Cathedral please take a look here. And if you want to support our work with youngsters whether through our choristerships, our gap year scheme or Cathedral Sing (our schools’ outreach project), take a look here.

David Price is Organist and Master of the Choristers at Portsmouth Cathedral. Before he came to Portsmouth he was Assistant Organist of Ely Cathedral having previously held Organ Scholarships at Rochester Cathedral and Croydon Parish Church.

During his time at Ely he toured Germany, Belgium, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic with the Cathedral Choir. The choir’s John Amner recording for Hyperion was critically acclaimed and was the Editor’s Choice in ‘The Gramophone’ music magazine. His work with the choir also led to performances with John Rutter, The Britten Sinfonia, concerts at Snape Maltings, John Tavener, The Parley of Instruments and The Royal Academy of Music. Whilst at Ely he pioneered the use of the building for twilight tours using music, drama and poetry.

Since David has been at Portsmouth the profile of the Cathedral’s music has been raised to new heights through twenty international tours across Europe, numerous recordings, many flagship events with the Royal Navy and the City of Portsmouth as well as regular work for the BBC and ITV. The daily round of worship is now led by three cathedral choirs involving boy choristers, a dedicated team of Lay Clerks and Choral Scholars, girl choristers and a choir of mixed adults. The cathedral organ has been extensively refurbished and enhanced under his care culminating in the addition of a set West End en chamade Trumpets in 2017.

In addition to his duties at the Cathedral, David serves on the Council of the Royal School of Church Music. He served two terms on the Association of English Cathedral’s Music & Liturgy Committee and on term on the Church of England’s General Synod.

The University of Portsmouth conferred David Price with an Honorary Doctorate of Music in recognition of the significant contribution he has made to the development of music at the Cathedral and for his contribution to the cultural life of the city. In 2013 he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Guild of Church Musicians and presented with this at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral.

Recent recital venues for David include Westminster Abbey, Wells Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, Chambery Cathedral and Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps and Trinity Church, Copenhagen in Denmark. His St John Passion for Good Friday was published by Encore Publications in a series of the gospel passions alongside John Scott, Philip Moore and Richard Lloyd.

He is married to Kitty and they live in an historic house in Old Portsmouth, though they can often be found with their dog Minstrel, in their small retreat in The French Alps.


The Organ Project at St Mary’s Portsea appoints Nicholson & Co. Ltd to restore Victorian heritage

The Organ Project Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholson & Co. Ltd to deliver its capital works programme to restore awe-inspiring Victorian heritage.

Following a competitive tender process involving four IBO (Institute of British Organ Building) accredited organ builders, a newly signed contract with Nicholson & Co. Ltd will see the dismantlement of the 1889 J.W. Walker & Sons organ at St Mary’s Portsea in November 2020, for restoration and re-dedication in late 2021 (this schedule may be subject to change).

Read more at the link below.


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