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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.