On Wednesday 3rd July we welcome Jonathan Kingston from Stony Stratford for the final 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 what he’s been up to since last playing here eighteen months ago; playing our re-voiced organ; and recordings being interrupted by buses struggling up Church Bank!

Could you introduce yourself, how you got into music / become an organist and your musical journey to where you are today?
I’m Jonathan Kingston and I now enjoy a portfolio career as a musical director, teacher, examiner and musical consultant. My very early days were spent as a chorister and musician at Leeds Grammar School, prior to my family re-locating to Liverpool, where I was an organ student at the Anglican Cathedral. Safe to say, it was those two places where I got ‘the bug’ and loved my immersion in church music.

What can people expect from your recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Hopefully, a good deal of variety. I know the Cathedral organ very well and its ability to do a great deal of justice to a wide repertoire of music is remarkable. I’ve therefore included some lighter items from the town and concert hall repertoire as well as some engaging classical works.

Why do you enjoy playing the organ?
It was the sound of the instrument which first attracted me to it, followed by the seemingly magical way many keyboards, stops and a separate keyboard for the feet all had to be manipulated simultaneously! The huge musical effects a large pipe organ can conjure when being played most robustly was also a great attraction in those early days, though hopefully I’ve also learnt a degree of decibel restraint in more recent years!

Do you have a particular favourite piece out of those you are playing?
Ah – they’re all favourites in a way. Pachelbel’s variations are a real gem and not very well known and the Widor finale from Symphonie No. 2 is a place I hold very dear to Bradford, as I recorded it for radio broadcast and a CD way back in 1998. Buses still struggled up Stott Hill in those days and I remember a very good first take having to be done again, due to traffic noise pollution!

This season’s theme is ‘The French Connection (Post-Revolution France)’. How are you reflecting this in your programme?
Well… the Widor work mentioned above as he was a titan of the Romantic period for the instrument. I’ve contrasted this with a much earlier, pre Revolution work by the lesser known Pierre du Mage.

What are your hopes or plans musically for 2024?
To keep doing more of the same, I hope. I greatly enjoy my varied musical existence and the different challenges each week brings. I will offer the ABRSM dates in the Summer of 2025 to examine internationally once again.

You last played here back in September 2022; what have you been up to musically since then?
I’ve been continuing to look after the vocal opportunities for the choirs and individuals at Stowe School, Buckingham, where I am based two days a week. We have enjoyed great success with the reformed school Choral Society too and plan to deliver a concert at St John’s Smith Square next year.

Since then you’ve been appointed Musical Director of Banbury Choral Society – how has that role been so far?
Hugely enjoyable. The Choir is around 80 strong and brings together people from very diverse backgrounds, all of whom are united by a love of music, performing and singing. Carmina Burana was our last concert and was met with much acclaim.

You were once the sub organist here – are you looking forward to coming back again?
YES! Returning to the Cathedral is an absolute highlight. Memories of nearly 30 years ago are still vivid and through the wonderful work led by Alan Horsey and Martin Baker, I learnt so many invaluable interpersonal and musical skills which have shaped my career since. It’s also splendid to be in touch with the current Music Departmental professionals, Graham and Anthony,  in order to hear their plans for the future. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing how the Cathedral organ has evolved since the programme of restoration and re-voicing work was undertaken last Summer.

Finally, how would you sum up your upcoming recital at Bradford Cathedral?
Musically, there’s something there for everyone  – the Bradford audiences are wonderful in their appreciation. Personally, it remains a highlight in my calendar to return.

You can join us on Wednesday 3rd July at 1pm to hear Jonathan’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.

The next organ recital season will be begin on Wednesday 4th September 2024.

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