On Wednesday 28th June 2023 we welcome Alessandro Bianchi from Switzerland 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 a Scottish Rhapsody by a previous Wednesday@One organist; travelling to new places; and playing to over 3000 people at Koeln Cathedral.
Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I was educated and introduced into the classical music since my mother was a professional violinist (but she never did it as a job) and my father played a piano so it was possible to listen a lot of classical music at home.
When we moved to a new house, my father bought an electronic organ so I started to play on it and to listen a lot of organ music from the radio where every Sunday an organ recital was broadcasted, I can remember that I was always ready with my recorder machine and my father who liked very much organ music, accompanied me to listen many organ recitals and it was love at first sight.
I started to study professionally and I got my diploma in a very short time starting to play the first recitals and this became my life.
What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
I think people attending the recital will enjoy with a “mixed” program that is easy listening with some very well known tunes, a classical british “Grand Choeur” and a funny piece by my dear friend and colleague Hans Uwe Hielscher who played last year in Bradford: his Scottish Rhapsody is a feast for ears.
Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
I enjoy very much playing the organ because I love to travel and always to know different and new instruments, trying to get from them the most various colours.
Travelling permits me to meet always new people and to visit new places and I consider myself very lucky, I’ve friends over all the world and very often, I’m invited to be back so often, I feel myself at home everywhere.
Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
In my programme I’ve a favourite piece by the Italian composer Arturo Clementoni, it’s a Symphonic Choral on the very well known Eater Tune “Cristo Risusciti”, it’s modelled on the Troisieme Choral by Cesar Franck but a little more modern in the harmonies with a beautiful Adagio in the middle part and a stunning and powerful Toccata at the end: the tune is well known over all the world and I played it really extensively : anytime people enjoyed a lot listening it.
This recital season we are celebrating ‘music for royal occasions’. Which of your pieces represents this, and why did you choose it?
In this season for “Music for Royal Occasions” I choose Charles Ives Variations on “America” since the tune uses the same melody of the National Anthem “God save the King”. At the beginning I thought about other pieces like Walton’s Crown Imperial or Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance or also Haendel’s Zadok the Priest ( I’ve a fine transcription of this one) but I think they will be played for sure from some British colleague so I decided for the Ives’s so popular and funny too .
Have you ever met any royalty and / or played for them?
Unfortunately I never met a Royalty, I would love to meet them. Only one in Edinburgh I had the chance to see the Late Queen Elizabeth II really very close and I’ve a nice remembrance of her smile in that occasion.
Have you found any differences in the styles of organ music popular in Italy compared to the UK?
I love any time to come to UK because here you have still a wonderful tradition in choral music ( completely lost in Italy) and also first class performers on the organ, I think honestly the best over all the world so to come here is always a good chance to learn something on both the sides.
You’ve played all over the world; have there been any particular places that you’ve most enjoyed playing?
There are many places that I remember with a great joy and emotion: I can name St. Paul’s Cathedral with his wonderful organ and acoustic, many other English Cathedrals, Koeln Cathedral where I played for 3000 people and the same in St. Petersburg Grand Hall with a fantastic audience.
You’ve also been a juror in organ competitions. Do you enjoy doing that?
Yes, I liked it very much and I have the pleasure to see that some winners in those competitions have now a great career, sometime it’s very stressing, listening the same piece also 20 times in one morning!!
In 2014 the City of Cantu awarded you with the title of “Honor Deserved Citizen” – what was it like to receive such an honour?
It was a great honour indeed for me and a great emotion and they asked me to play too a piece during the ceremony ( the Bach’s Toccata and fuge in d minor of course).
It was a great emotion too because my parents (very old, my father was 92) were able to attend this event and I can remember the joy and the tears in his eyes: my father passed away peacefully only after two months… but I’m so happy that he was there for that occasion with my mother, what a moment!
Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
It will be a great experience and a wonderful occasion to play a fine instrument, I really hope to give some joy to the audience, in our days we always need for quiet moments of peace and joy and my goal is to reach this.
You can join us on Wednesday 28th June at 1pm for Alessandro Bianchi‘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