On Wednesday 7th June 2023 we welcome Dr Ed Jones from the Wakefield to the Cathedral at our next recital of the 2023 summer season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about him and the recital, including the bells and smells of high liturgy, meeting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and playing the organ solely with his feet!
Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I am Ed, and initially got into church music through a countertenor – I was playing the ‘cello for a concert, and he invited me to sing with him in a choir. A few weeks later, it was a minister who phoned me and asked if I’d be interested in playing the organ, to which I said yes. I started learning on the job in a parish choir, five devoted singers, small organ, but a very high liturgy (bells and smells) which gave me insight into what goes on!
What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Variety of music, some tasteless, and some interesting. I’m playing a piece of music written entirely for the feet – which should be fun to watch, as well as explore what sounds can be achieved! I shall also be playing a piece by Langlais, who was entirely blind by the age of two, and had to transcribe his music, note by note. A painstaking process no doubt, but certainly worth it.
Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
I sometimes describe it as an orchestral conductor, choosing which instruments they want to play, at what point, with the whole ensemble willing to experiment with sounds. The pros are not having to deal with oboe players taking a tantrum because they don’t like Durufle, or string players that can’t play in tune. Cons are that I have to learn the notes…!
Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
Not really – my favourites change from one to the other within hours. I do however have a soft spot for the Passacalia from Walton’s suite. The Langlais at the end is also rather wonderful – short and spiky, it’s quite a remarkable finisher!
This recital season we are celebrating ‘music for royal occasions’. Which of your pieces represents this, and why did you choose it?
There are three pieces with a royal theme. A delightful surprise at the Coronation of HM Charles III was the inclusion of plainsong, and particularly ‘Veni Creator’. I shall be playing M. Durufle’s variations on this very melody. The second piece is King related, but not Charles related – a Suite by Walton which has two sublime movements surrounded by a raucous march! The third piece is by the Organist Emeritus of Blackburn Cathedral – based on the tune “Regent Square” with words commonly associated with a different sort of “royalty”.
Have you ever met any royalty and / or played for them?
I once met HM the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. When I was in Aberdeen, my university built a new library that she opened and we sang for her. She asked a few questions about our musical pursuits and gave a rather amusing opinion of the music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
The old library was the Queen Mother Library, and the university accidentally forgot to tell her we were demolishing her late mother’s library, so she was slightly miffed to say the least!
Earlier in the year you returned to Bradford Cathedral whilst the Director of Music was on study leave. Did you enjoy your time back in Bradford, and what were your highlights?
Yes! It was brilliant fun – lovely to see everyone again, going from strength to strength. A particular highlight is certainly seeing the progression of choristers, and investment the department made (and continue to makes) becoming fruitful now.
I am now a trainee Financial Advisor with Quilter, so it is great to be involved with music and the wonderment that is the wider music department of Bradford Cathedral! I’m doing playing and rehearsing choristers at many places now, so hope to keep the links with Bradford!
Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Who knows! I’ll certainly enjoy playing it to the audience, and I hope there is something for everyone, with repertoire well known and new!
You can join us on Wednesday 7th June at 1pm for Ed Jones’ 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