On Wednesday 11th January 2023 we welcome Shaun Turnbull from Ripon Cathedral to the Cathedral for our first organ recital of the year. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about his musical background, how he plans to shake the choir stalls, and his golfing and comedy tips!

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I took up the organ in the long summer vacation following my GCSE exams.  I loved the breadth of colour, and the imposing power of the instrument.  Plans changed from intended study in Genetic sciences to conservatoire-based organ study.   Following almost a decade in Lancashire, I’ve been working at Ripon for the last 18 months.

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
I have selected a programme of musical suitable for the Epiphany.

Why do you enjoy playing the organ? 
Very much like the beginning of my experience with the instrument: I enjoy making the choir stalls shake!

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
I very much enjoy Buxtehude’s cheerful setting of ‘How brightly shines the morning star’.

This recital season we are celebrating music written by female composers. Which piece(s) have you selected, and why did you choose it / them? 
Shamefully this repertoire is underrepresented in my library, and as a late substitute, I have selected two works which are simple enough to learn in the time available.

You appeared next to Emilia Fox in a Spanish release film. What was the film about, and what was it like to be involved in?
The film was about a boy diagnosed with a terminal illness. The filming session lasted hours for a few 20 second scenes! I had a speaking role, I understand (though dubbed into Spanish)

You were the service organist for the Office of the Royal Maundy in 2014. What did that involve?
The Maundy service was a tremendous occasion where the Queen and Duke Of Edinburgh came to Blackburn. A great honour to provide the music jointly with the Chapel Royal for this service, which by tradition includes ‘Zadok the Priest’ by Handel- written for the coronation for one of the queen’s ancestors of course.

You are a keen golfer. What are your tips for playing, and are there any parallels between being an organist / musician and a golfer?
Knowing one’s game: play to your strengths. There are similarities with organ playing – a calmness under pressure especially. Both disciplines definitely benefit from regular practice!

Another interest you have is in comedy shows. Do you have any favourite comedians you’d recommend?
I really enjoy Bill Bailey for his musical capabilities. More locally, I find Justin Moorhouse’s quick wit when MCing local comedy clubs.

Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral? 
I think it should be tuneful, and I hope people can hear the star!

You can join us on Wednesday 11th January at 1pm for Shaun Turnbull’s organ recital, with an optional £4 buffet lunch beforehand at 12:30pm.

You can discover more about our organ recital season on our dedicated page.

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