On Wednesday 15th May we welcome Christopher Stokes from Manchester for our fifth organ recital of the 2024 summer season. In this edition of ‘Notes from an Organist’ we discover more about them, and what to expect from their recital, including swapping tax discs for organ stops; playing in the USA; and passing on music to the next generation.

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today? I was fortunate enough to go to a school which had a splendid three-manual organ in the chapel. They couldn’t drag me away from it! After school, and after a two-year stint of working – dispensing car tax discs in County Hall, Maidstone! – I went to Trinity College of Music. I had a wonderful four years there, receiving tuition from some truly amazing musicians.

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
I was delighted when I was told the theme of the series, as that fits both with my favourite period of music – other than Bach, of course – and the marvellous instrument in the Cathedral. I’m looking forward to exploring its rich sonorities on Tuesday evening!

Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
The music.

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
Anything by Franck is a sheer delight to play: the depth of feeling and intensity of expression in his music is a journey that I am always willing to undertake.

This season’s theme is ‘The French Connection (Post-Revolution France)’. How are you reflecting this in your programme?
Using Franck as the springboard and branching outwards. His influence lasts through to the present day and contemporary writings.

What are your hopes or plans musically for 2024?
Getting to know as much music as possible: a life-long quest. Working with my wonderful choir in Manchester is an essential part of my work, as is teaching the organ to some highly talented students at Chetham’s School of Music.

You were the professor of organ at Trinity College of Music – what was your time there like?
Truly wonderful: as Alan Bennett – 90 today, as I write this – says in the History Boys ‘it’s all about passing it on.’

Outside of your Cathedral work, you have worked with many other choirs and orchestras. Have there been any particular groups you’ve really enjoyed working with?
All have quite different flavours and all have been enjoyable and stimulating, but working with Sir Mark Elder over years has been an experience which has given me great pleasure.

You have performed all around the world; have there been any particular countries you’ve most enjoyed visiting?
USA, San Francisco in particular.

You have been involved with many recordings for the BBC. For you, what makes for a compelling performance on either television or radio?
Live broadcasting yields the best results. Nothing stale, in my experience, comes from it.

Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
The music must speak for itself: it is repertoire bursting with exuberance, expression, intensity and virtuosity.

You can join us on Wednesday 15th May at 1pm to hear Christopher’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.

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