On Wednesday 5th July 2023 we welcome William Saunders from Ipswich as our final recitalist of the 2023 summer season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about him and the recital, including creating music for adverts, playing for members of the Royal Family, and ‘painting with music’.

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
Hi everyone! I’m William and I hail from Suffolk. Growing up in Framlingham, my deep appreciation for music began early, influenced by very special and historic organ in the local church which left an indelible mark on my young mind. Supported by an exceptional music teacher at school, I embarked on a rich and varied career in music. Positions were then held at Ipswich School, then the Royal Hospital School and finally St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Today, I regularly perform around the country and dep at various cathedrals. I also am co-owner of a business which provides music for TV, film and adverts

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Hopefully an enthralling recital programme filled with a captivating range of musical masterpieces! That’s the plan! Starting with the Concert Overture in F minor by Alfred Hollins, setting the stage with its virtuosic and dramatic episodes. Next, the enchanting tones of Ketelbey’s “In a Persian Market” will transport listeners to a world of exotic allure and mystique. The programme continues with Butterworth’s “The Banks of Green Willow”, an idyllic composition that evokes the serene beauty of nature. Then, prepare to be mesmerized by Saint-Saëns’ hauntingly enchanting “Danse Macabre”, as the orchestra paints a vivid picture of the supernatural realm. Finally, the recital will conclude with selections from Gustav Holst’s iconic “The Planets”, including the awe-inspiring “Jupiter.”

Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
Playing the organ is a thrilling symphony of emotions and expression. It’s like painting with music, where every note becomes a brushstroke that creates a masterpiece of sound.

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
One stands out: “Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saëns. This hauntingly enchanting composition evokes a mesmerizing atmosphere, painting a vivid picture of the supernatural realm. The swirling melodies, the pulsating rhythms, and the spine-tingling harmonies ignite a sense of excitement. The challenge of capturing the eerie essence of the piece and the opportunity to unleash its dramatic power make “Danse Macabre” a true masterpiece.

This recital season we are celebrating ‘music for royal occasions’. Which of your pieces represents this, and why did you choose it?
“Jupiter” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. This piece is associated with royalty due to its historical significance and its frequent performance during. “The Planets” suite, composed between 1914 and 1916, gained immense popularity and acclaim, leading to Holst’s appointment as Director of Music at St Paul’s Girls’ School, where he taught several members of the British royal family. Additionally, “Jupiter” was also included in the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Have you ever met any royalty and / or played for them?
Yes, I have had the privilege of performing for and meeting the royal family on multiple occasions. Apart from attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace, I had the incredible opportunity to conduct part of the annual British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, with the entire royal family in attendance. Additionally, members of the royal family visited the Royal Hospital School and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Embark on a captivating musical journey at my recital, filled with dramatic pieces that showcase the vibrant range and versatility of this fabulous organ. Experience the power and variety of this remarkable instrument firsthand.

You can join us on Wednesday 5th July at 1pm for William Saunder’s organ recital, with an optional £4 buffet lunch beforehand at 12:30pm. You can find out more about William on his website, Twitter or YouTube.

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

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