On Wednesday 8th November we welcome Dr Ed Jones from Wakefield for our next organ recital. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about him, and what to expect from his recital, including playing a piece with a grand fanfare; how our organ compares to one of French origin; and his preference for coffee over – gasp – tea!
Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I started to learn the organ at university. It was very much a side hobby, until I embarked on a career in music. Now, it has become a hobby again, which allows me to enjoy it wherever I want!
What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
An exciting opening piece, by Gigout, which is quite well known. Also a quirky but excellent sonata by Francis Jackson, which isn’t well known! Not the usual head movers and shakers, but something interesting to ponder!
Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
Each instrument has it’s own character, and works better or worse for some music. There are many pipes to listen to, and getting to know which ones work best for the music is a tiresome procedure, but exhilarating when you get the right ones!
Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
Not really – this is the first time I’ve played the Jackson, so ask me again after the recital!
This recital season we are celebrating ‘Fanfares and Fireworks – Celebrating the Return of the Organ’. How are you weaving that theme into your recital?
The opening piece is by Gigout, and is a conversation between the a solo trumpet stop (very loud and brash), and the rest of the organ. Not linked to any refurbishment of any organ, but certainly opens with a grand fanfare!
The main body of the programme is a complete Sonata by the late Francis Jackson. He wrote it many years ago for the opening of the new Blackburn Cathedral Organ.
Are you looking forward to playing / hearing our refurbished organ?
I did the other day, when I played for the All Souls’ Requiem…! It was delightful, with a few tweaks to the stop list (in my humble opinion) and all sounding clear and clean with a fresh tuning making it sound resplendent. Many French organs are known for being out of tune and rather ‘fruity’ in tone, so I’m afraid Eugène Gigout’s home timbre won’t be replicated!
You are now working in the finance industry. How is that going?
Extremely well. I am awaiting results of my final exam (all others went swimmingly) and then will have to await a rather heavily regulated vetting process. At the moment I’m somewhat in limbo, but hope to be advising people very soon, which is exciting!
You have recently had a commission from the American choral society. How do you find the process of arranging / composing music, and what are your top tips?
The two main tips are relatively simple. Firstly, to make it singable. You’d be surprised at the number of people who can’t effectively write for choirs, and especially so for amateurs. The second is to think ‘what can I add to the repertoire, that hasn’t been done already?’. If you can’t think of anything new and worthwhile doing, someone else will have probably done it better than you!
You’re a keen distance running – what’s the longest you’ve run, and how did you find that challenge?
I did the Gloucester Marathon (26.2 miles) a few years ago. That was brilliant but a lot of hard work needs to go into it with months of structured runs and scheduling when your legs might hurt and of course eating kilos of pasta. It’s my one way of getting away from everything, which in this busy world is much needed. I tend to stay below half marathons now, since I can enjoy a pint and curry without fear of adding minutes to my time!
And you confess in your biography to not enjoying a cup of tea. How has that been during your many years in Yorkshire?
I am a self-confessed coffee snob, and quite happily accept all liability for being called so. I’ve always preferred one of those, and tea just seems less appealing, so never got into it. I do get some odd reactions, but I’ve learned to deal with criticism in this way!
You can join us on Wednesday 8th November 2023 at 1pm to hear Dr 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