On Wednesday 24th January we welcome our very own Anthony Gray for our third organ recital of the new 2024 season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about them, and what to expect from their recital, including playing a piece dedicated to a former PM; fitting in the theme; and how they spent the Christmas break…

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Music Department here in an official capacity since September 2023. Graham, Daisy, Marta and I thoroughly enjoy working with the plethora of children and adult singers we see each week, and I have been loving getting to know our ‘new’ organ.

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
This programme is centered around a major work by Herbert Howells. His Partita, written in 1972, is dedicated to Prime Minister Edward Heath, with whom Howells was a colleague at school. The story (possibly apocryphal) goes that Howells agreed to write Edward Heath a large-scale work like this if he ever became Prime Minister. It’s a remarkable piece of many colours and characters, in the tonal language which is unmistakably Howells, but in his more mature style he cultivated towards the end of his life. There is also the delightful ‘Allein Gott’ trio in A Major, and two pieces from ‘Rubrics’ by the American composer, Dan Locklair, taking inspiration from the ceremonial instructions in the Book of Common Prayer.

Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
The organ is undeniably the king of instruments, and I most enjoy the variety of colours, textures and styles a single instrument is able to achieve.

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
Both of the Dan Locklair pieces are new to me for this recital. I have especially enjoyed learning the second one (‘The People Respond – Amen’) which is a sprightly and lively number, including plenty of double-pedalling. I will be attempting not to fall off the side of the organ whilst doing this…

This season’s theme is ‘Trios and Trio Sonatas’ which features JS Bach’s six trio sonatas in full. Are you playing one and, if so, which one is it, why did you choose this one, and why are you looking forward to playing it?
I have included at the start of the programme the Allein Gott Trio BWV 664, which is included as an option in the Oxbridge organ scholarship audition process. I didn’t play it in my audition, but I thought I would give myself some gentle flashbacks to this experience in the process. We’re hugely looking forward to Louisa Denby visiting us at the end of February to both play a fantastic recital for us, and to lead a masterclass with lots of local students on the audition process for Choral and Organ Scholarships. Do encourage anyone you know to sign up!

What are your hopes or plans musically for 2024?
There are lots of exciting plans in 2024 both at the Cathedral and with my other groups. I’m looking forward to some fantastic concerts with Halifax Choral Society, Harrogate Choral Society and the Cathedral Choir as well as the regular pattern of Evensongs and other services.

    What have you been up to musically over the Christmas and New Year period?
    We had a wonderful Christmas period here at the Cathedral with concerts with the Black Dyke Band and the fabulous Christmas recital on 23rd. Over New Year, I could mainly be found in a jacuzzi just off the M1…

    Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
    A showcase of one of the finest organ composers’ biggest works alongside gems in contrasting styles.

    You can join us on Wednesday 24th January at 1pm to hear Anthony’s organ recital, with an optional £4 buffet lunch beforehand at 12:30pm. You can find out more about Anthony on his website; X account; or on Instagram.

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

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