Stephen Tharp

Stephen Tharp

Gala Opening Recital - 22nd April

Stephen Tharp, hailed as “the organist for the connoisseur” ((organ – Journal für die Orgel, Germany), “the thinking person’s performer” (Het Orgel), “every bit the equal of any organist” (The American Organist magazine) and “the consummate creative artist” (Michael Barone, Pipedreams), is recognized as one of the great concert organists of our age.

Having played more than 1400 concerts across 48 tours worldwide, Stephen Tharp has built one of the most well-respected international careers in the world, earning him the reputation as the most traveled concert organist of his generation. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World, and has been given the 2011 International Performer of the Year Award by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In May 2015, he was given the Paul Creston Award which recognizes artistic excellence by a significant figure in church music and the performing arts.

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“Stephen Tharp is the best organist in America.” The Diapason “…performed colorfully, rousing and splendid…” The New York Times “Stephen Tharp had the riskiest billing, closing out the (Boston AGO National) Convention in the only recital before the entire gathering. Tharp responded with the performance of a lifetime […] the whole thing so dazzlingly executed as to emboss itself upon the memory.” Choir & Organ MagazineHis list of performances since 1987 includes such distinguished venues as St. Bavo, Haarlem; St. Eustache, Paris; Ste. Croix, Bordeaux; The Hong Kong Cultural Centre; the Town Halls of Sydney and Adelaide, Australia; Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow; the Tonhalle, Zürich; the Duomo, Milano, Italy; the cathedrals in Berlin, Köln, München, Münster, Passau und Monaco, and the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany; the Frauenkirche, Dresden; Igreja da Lapa, Porto, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lissabon; Antwerp Cathedral, Belgium; Dvorak Hall, Prague; the Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland; The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas; Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles; The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; The Riverside Church, New York City; Rice University, Houston; Spivey Hall, Atlanta; and Severance Hall, Cleveland. He has given master classes at Yale University; Westminster Choir College; the Cleveland Institute of Music, Bethel University (St. Paul, MN); the Hochschulen für Musik in Stuttgart, Trossingen and Bochum (Germany); and for chapters of the American Guild of Organists. He has also adjudicated for competitions at the Juilliard School and Northwestern University. Stephen Tharp remains an important champion of new organ music, and continues to commission and premiere numerous compositions for the instrument. The first such piece was Jean Guillou’s symphonic poem Instants, Op. 57, which Tharp premiered at King’s College, Cambridge, England in February 1998. Works dedicated to him include George Baker’s Variations on “Rouen” (2009); David Briggs’ Toccata Labyrinth (2006); Samuel Adler’s Sonata (2005); Eugenio Fagiani’s Psalm 100 (2009) and Stèle (2003); Thierry Escaich’s Trois Poèmes (2002); Philip Moore’s Sinfonietta (2001); Anthony Newman’s Tombeau d’Igor Stravinsky (2000), Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on BACH (1999) and the Second Symphony (1992); Martha Sullivan’s Slingshot Shivaree for Organ and Percussion (1999); and Morgan Simmons Exercitatio Fantastica (1997). Himself a composer, Tharp was commissioned by Cologne Cathedral, Germany to compose for Easter Sunday, 2006 his Easter Fanfares for the inauguration of the organ’s new en chamade Tuba stops, as well Disney’s Trumpets, composed in February 2011 for the organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, where it was premiered by the composer the following month. In April 2008, Stephen Tharp was named the Official Organist for the NY visit of Pope Benedict XVI, playing for three major events attended by more than 60,000 people that were broadcast live worldwide. Mr. Tharp’s playing has also been heard on both English and Irish national television, on Radio Prague, orgelnieuws.nl in the Netherlands, and in the U. S. on American Public Media’s Pipedreams. In both 2005 and 2011, Pipedreams broadcast entire programmes dedicated exclusively to his career, making him one of the few organists in the world so honoured. He is also an active chamber musician nationwide, having performed on organ, piano and harpsichord with artists such as Thomas Hampson, Itzhak Perlman, Jennifer Larmore, Rachel Barton Pine, the American Boychoir (James Litton, conductor), the St. Thomas Choir (John Scott, conductor, in Duruflé’s Requiem), and at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. His 14 solo organ recordings can be found on the JAV, Aeolus, Naxos, Organum and Ethereal labels, and are available from the Organ Historical Society (http://www.ohscatalog.org/), JAV Recordings (http://www.pipeorgancds.com/) and Aeolus (http://www.aeolus-music.com/). His commercial release The Complete Organ Works of Jeanne Demessieux on Aeolus Recordings, received the 2009 Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Germany’s premier critic’s prize for recordings, as well as the French 5 Diapason award. The release was celebrated in October 2010 with Mr. Tharp’s performance of the complete Demessieux works live over three concerts at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Stephen Tharp plays St. Bavo, Haarlem, The Netherlands on the JAV label was called “the most beautiful CD of 2009” by Resmusica in France. Stephen Tharp earned his BA degree, magna cum laude, from Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL and his MM from Northwestern University, Chicago, where he studied with Rudolf Zuiderveld and Wolfgang Rübsam, respectively. He has also worked privately with Jean Guillou in Paris.
David Hardie

David Hardie

Monday 24th April: 13:10-13:50

David Hardie was born and educated in Stirlingshire, holding organ scholarships at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling and Dunblane Cathedral.  He was subsequently appointed organ scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in law.  On graduating, David moved to Manchester to qualify as a solicitor while simultaneously holding appointments as Director of Music at St Peter’s Hale, Cheshire, and Director of the Chester St Cecilia Singers.

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In 2011, David resigned from his legal practice to study for a Master’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with distinction in 2013 and winning the Organ Recital Prize.  During his postgraduate studies he was also organ scholar at Manchester Cathedral.  David moved to the West Midlands in 2014 to take up the posts of Assistant Director of Music at Birmingham Cathedral and Organist of the Blue Coat School, Edgbaston. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and continues his organ studies with Henry Fairs at Birmingham Conservatoire.

 

Paul Walton

Paul Walton

Tuesday 25th April: 13:10-13:50

Paul Walton began his musical career as a chorister at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s church), and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, with Margaret Philips, Matthew Owens and Kevin Bowyer. During this time, he was Organ Scholar at St. Ann’s Church, Manchester, and then Sydney Nicholson Organ Scholar at Manchester Cathedral, where his numerous recitals included seven all-Bach programmes. He undertook two years of postgraduate study, gaining his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists (winning the Dixon Prize for Improvisation), the RNCM’s Postgraduate Diploma, Professional Performance Diploma (the highest award for performance offered by the College), and the Master’s degree, with distinction in performance.

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Since September 2001, Paul has been Assistant Organist of Bristol Cathedral. As well as accompanying and assisting in the training of the Cathedral Choir, he directs the Cathedral Consort. He gives one recital per term at Bristol Cathedral, and has also given recitals at several other venues throughout Bristol such as St. Mary Redcliffe and Christ Church, Broad Street. Other solo recital venues have included St. Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, London (sponsored by the Keyboard Charitable Trust), cathedrals including St. Paul’s, Liverpool, Coventry and Hereford, Westminster Abbey, Tewkesbury Abbey, Rochdale Town Hall, Parr Hall, Warrington, and the Marktkirche, Hannover. He has been accompanist for Bristol Cathedral Choir’s tours to France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the USA. In Autumn 2012, Paul was appointed the Musical Director of Bristol Phoenix Choir, and also recorded his first commercial CD, Rejoice and be merry!, a disc of Christmas organ music on Regent Records. This was released in 2013 to wide acclaim, including a 4-star rating in BBC Music Magazine, who said ‘Try his barnstorming assault on David Briggs’s jubilant Sortie on ‘In dulci jubilo’ for size – epic!’ Paul’s performance of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride is at number 2 in Gramophone’s Top Ten Seasonal Organ Showpieces. Paul’s second CD, In an Old Abbey, a programme of rare British organ music, was Editor’s Choice in the December 2014 Organists’ Review. His third CD, For the Iron Voice, a collection of 21st century organ music, was released last summer. Paul is also known as an arranger. He has penned an extensive collection of over 300 hymn arrangements, as well as numerous arrangements for organ and brass, including Verdi’s Grand March from Aida, Brewer’s Marche Héroïque, Gigout’s Grand Choeur Dialogué and the accompaniments to Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens and I was glad. These have become widely used, especially the latter, and have been performed in Australia, Canada and throughout the USA. Paul’s occasional forays into actual composition have met with reactions ranging from ‘a real piece of grand creation’ to ‘a collection of musical nightmares’. More information on Paul can be found at www.paul-walton.com.

 

Alexander Ffinch

Alexander Ffinch

Thursday 27th April: 13:10-13:50

Alexander Ffinch studied at the Royal College of Music, and was later organ scholar of Keble College, Oxford where he subsequently became a pupil of Thomas Trotter. He was resident organist at Lancaster Town Hall where he gave over 100 recitals in the 1990’s and also gained recognition in the St Albans Interpretation Competition in 1999. He has performed in UK, Europe, USA and Asia and his schedule for 2016 includes numerous engagements across the globe.

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He was appointed College Organist of Cheltenham College in 2004, after a three-year tenure as Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and is responsible for the daily organ playing in the College Chapel as well as accompanying the Choirs. Throughout his time at Cheltenham, he has continued to give recitals regularly and he has more recently been organist for the Eton Choral Courses and also The Rodolfus Choir with whom he has appeared at the Cheltenham International Music Festival in 2010 and on BBC Radio 3 live broadcasts in 2011-2015.  Recent and forthcoming concert appearances include: The Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland CA; Cultural Centre Hong Kong; San Francisco Legion of Honor and Orgelfestival l’Europe & l’Orgue.  Please visit www.alexanderffinch.co.uk for further information and details.

Hugo Kennard

Hugo Kennard

Hugo Kennard started his musical career as a chorister at Chichester Cathedral where he studied the organ with Mark Wardell. He then took up the organ scholarship at Charterhouse School in Surrey and studied the organ with Mark Blatchley. On leaving Charterhouse Hugo returned to Chichester Cathedral as organ scholar.

He attended Canterbury Christ Church University studying Church Music. Since 2009 Hugo has enjoyed a varied free lance career as an organist, teacher and accompanist and has held two posts as Director of Music in large parishes in the Diocese of Gloucester.

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Hugo is currently the Assistant Organist at Cirencester Parish church and accompanist to St Stephen’s choir Canterbury. Hugo’s career has taken him all over the UK playing in Cathedrals such as, Chichester, Rochester, Canterbury, Portsmouth, Guildford, Salisbury, Chelmsford,  Southwell, Coventry, Glasgow to name just a few. Hugo is well known for his improvisation and enjoys liturgical playing and accompaniment as much as a hobby as a job!!

 

James Grainger

James Grainger

Friday 28th April: 13:10-13:50

James Grainger’s musical life began as a chorister in St Edmundsbury Cathedral. After leaving the choir James began learning the organ in 2001 combining his studies with an organ scholarship at St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds.

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James moved to London in 2004 and was appointed Assistant Organist at St Mary-le-Bow Church shortly after arriving.  Whilst living in London James studied under the likes of Andrew Arthur, Paul Brough and Anne Marsden Thomas. From 2006 James held the post of Organ Scholar at All Saints, Margaret Street for two years.  Between 2008 & 2016 he was then appointed as Organist at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich.  During this time James played in many concerts and high profile events including performances for senior members of the Royal Family.  In 2011 he was also the accompanist for the UK premier performance of a newly commissioned work “Anthem for Seafarers” by Malcolm Archer.   James is active across the UK as an accompanist and recitalist performing in a number of locations with a variety of different ensembles and soloists.  He has made numerous appearances on BBC Television and Radio’s 2, 3 & 4.  These have included broadcasts for significant events including the Diamond Jubilee, London 2012 Olympics, Remembrance Sunday and BBC Radio 3’s “Baroque Spring”.  James has also performed in many prestigious locations including St. Pauls, Salisbury, St. Edmundsbury, Canterbury & Worcester Cathedrals (amongst others) & St. Georges Chapel, Windsor. In 2016 James took a break from his musical life to relocate with his fiancé to the Cotswolds and focus on renovating their new house.  James is now developing his freelance career and is excited to be performing and expanding his connections in the Cotswolds area. Alongside James’s musical commitments he graduated from Queen Mary, University of London in 2009 with an MSc in Bio-Medical Engineering.  James currently works in the Medical Research & Development industry with a team designing a new Medical Device which allows haemodialysis patients to be treated at home.

 

Anthony Hammond

Anthony Hammond

Gala Silent Movie - Saturday 29th April

Dr. Anthony Hammond is a critically acclaimed English concert organist, composer and musicologist. His principal organ studies were with Roger Fisher and David Briggs in England, and with Dr. Naji Hakim in Paris. As a performing and recording artist in Europe and the USA he is known particularly for his specialism in French Romantic and 20th century organ music, and as an improviser. He made his American solo debut in San Francisco in 2009 and enjoys a busy performing career in prestigious venues on both sides of the Atlantic. He has recorded a number of CDs both in England and France for English, German and American labels (Priory, Ifo Classics, Raven), has broadcast on radio in the USA and for the BBC, and is in increasing demand for his improvised accompaniments in concert to classic silent movies.

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As a musicologist he writes extensively on organ music, publishing in many leading journals. His book on Pierre   Cochereau, one of the 20th century’s greatest French organists, grew out of PhD studies at the University of Bristol and was published worldwide in 2009 by the University of Rochester Press, New York. He has transcribed a number of Cochereau’s improvisations from the original recordings, and the scores of some of these are published by J. Butz Musikverlag, Bonn. He is currently engaged on a project to record the complete organ works of the little-known 20th century French composer Léonce de Saint-Martin. His church career has included appointments at Chester Cathedral, the church of St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, Bristol Cathedral, and Cirencester Parish Church where, in addition to his work as Director of Music and Organist, he is also the founder and artistic director of the Cirencester International Organ Festival. To download Anthony’s profile sheet, click here.  

Simon Bell

Simon Bell

Wednesday 26th April

Simon Bell took up the appointment of Director of Choral Music and Organist at Dean Close School in Cheltenham in September 2012, in which capacity he directs the boy choristers and lay clerks of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum in the weekday services in Tewkesbury Abbey.  His post at Dean Close also includes responsibility for all the choral music in the senior school. Between 2012 and 2014, Simon was responsible for the design and installation of the new chapel organ at Dean Close School. Under his direction, Schola Cantorum has continued to broadcast regularly and has recorded two highly acclaimed CDs. In 2015, the Schola Cantorum visited The Netherlands, and in July 2017, the boys and lay clerks will be performing concerts in the southwest of France, based in Bordeaux.

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Prior to his current role, Simon was Assistant Director of Music at Winchester Cathedral, where his post included working frequently with all the Cathedral choirs and accompanying them in the daily round of services, recordings, television and radio broadcasts and also on tour.  He has also held posts at Southwell Minster, Westminster Abbey and St Albans Cathedral.

Simon graduated from the University of Leeds with first class honours and holds an MMus from the Royal College of Music.  He was a prize winner at the coveted St Albans International Organ Festival in 2001 and 2005, and is also a past Limpus Prize winner in the FRCO diploma examination.  He is a former holder of the WT Best Memorial Organ Scholarship, awarded by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and his organ teachers included Gordon Stewart, Margaret Phillips and Ben van Oosten. Simon continues to be active as a solo organist, performing concerts regularly in Cathedrals and Churches up and down the UK. Since 2015, he has been the Festival Organist at the annual Edington Festival or Music within the Liturgy.