On Wednesday 21st June 2023 we welcome our very own Graham Thorpe as our next recitalist of the 2023 summer season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about him and the recital, including imitating a cannon using the organ, attending Garter at Windsor Castle, and why organ recitals are important.
Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
It was a long-term dream to become a cathedral assistant organist. I was a pianist and trombonist, and took up the organ at secondary school. With help from Manchester and Guildford Cathedrals, I was then able to study in London and come to Bradford from there.
Being in Bradford has afforded me many opportunities and a wealth of experience, happily continuing next year.
What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
A varied programme, which as I do more recitals at Bradford, seem to get sillier… this recital even includes slapping the keys to imitate a cannon!
Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
It’s loud! But also, shaping and colouring accompaniments and the liturgy; the repertoire, and also trying to make the conductor/choir laugh during services.
Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
I always love Bach, but the highlight for me this recital will be the Mulet, which is a new learn!
This recital season we are celebrating ‘music for royal occasions’. Which of your pieces represents this, and why did you choose it?
I’ve chosen some quieter Elgar pieces, Salut d’amour and Chanson de matin which both have been used at royal occasions. Glorious tunes which help balance the bombast of some of the rest of the programme.
Have you ever met any royalty and / or played for them?
Errr… I attended Garter at Windsor Castle, but I don’t think I’ve played for any.
You are the Assistant Director of Music at Bradford Cathedral. Organ recital series are held across the country – why are they important for the musical landscape?
The organ is part of the country’s history and traditions. As an instrument it probably has the largest span of repertoire. They are heard at some of the most important national occasions, eg. royal services. Organ recitals inspire audiences young and old, and hopefully, bring in the next generation of cathedral and church musicians.
Bradford Cathedral organ will soon be undergoing refurbishment – what do you hope from the organ from this autumn?
I expect it to be a much better blended sound, that is somewhat less abrasive. I think it will be better for accompanying both the choir and the congregation. It will also be more reliable, after aging leatherwork is replaced and pipes are cleaned.
Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
As ever, I hope an accessible programme with something for everyone.
You can join us on Wednesday 21st June at 1pm for Graham Thorpe’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