On Wednesday 5th October 2022 we welcome organist Simon Hogan to Bradford Cathedral for the next of this season’s organ recitals. Here we find out more about him, including his organ scholarship at St. Paul’s, the palette of sounds created by an organ, and why his recital will be festive!
Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
My name is Simon, and I have loved playing the organ since first starting at the age of eleven! I got into the organ through being a chorister at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, where the organists would always let me watch the organ voluntaries from the loft so I could see what was going on. One thing led to another, and I became Organ Student there, before going on to organ scholarships at the cathedrals of Bristol, Salisbury and St Paul’s.
I became Assistant Director of Music at Southwell Minster in 2012, did a short stint as Sub Organist at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford in 2019, went freelance in 2020, and this December will be starting a new job as Sub Organist and Assistant Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral.
What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
I always like to program a variety of styles, mixing the familiar names with less-known and often quirky ones. For this recital, I am starting with a very short piece from the Orgelbuchlein Project by Iain Farrington. It’s based on the hymn ‘All people that on earth do dwell’ which many listeners will know, but it’s offered in a very rhythmic and jazzy style. I’m following that with three movements of the Suite de Danses, an improvised suite on traditional dances by French organist Pierre Cochereau. Contrasting completely is a more serious work, the Fantasie Choral no 1 by Percy Whitlock.
This is an extended work based on an original theme. In this piece you’ll hear just how much variety the organ can offer, both in terms of orchestral colours, and range of dynamics. Then a short piece of Bach acts as a little sorbet, before I finish the recital with the well-known and vibrant Finale from Louis Vierne’s First Symphony.
Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
The organ is unique in being able to produce such a vast variety of sounds, and I have always been attracted to being able to mix the sounds together, like an artist with different colours of paint, and come up with one’s own unique palette of sound. I enjoy the repertoire, and love the organist lifestyle, which entails meeting and working with so many different people from day to day.
Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
From the player’s perspective, the Whitlock Fantasie Choral is most fun, as it offers such a range of textures, and is very cleverly written, always lying nicely under the fingers.
Each recital this season includes a piece from The Orgelbüchlein Project – what was it like learning this piece / why did you pick that particular piece?
Rather to my shame I didn’t actually play any pieces from the Orgelbüchlein Project until now. The appeal of Iain Farrington’s piece is that the tune will be well known to audiences, and with its jazz-infused character, it’ll get the recital off to a really positive start. I shall certainly be getting to know some of the other pieces too!
Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
I think a good word for my recital is ‘festive’ – lots of joy to be had within this programme!
You can join us on Wednesday 5th October at 1pm for Simon Hogan’s organ recital, with an optional £4 buffet lunch beforehand at 12:30pm. You can find out more about Simon on his website or Twitter account.
You can discover more about our organ recital season on our dedicated page.