MUSIC

Our musical interests are in the areas of classical, folk and instrumental jazz, though we claim no depth of knowledge in the latter two.

Tony is reasonably competent on piano, church organ and as a singer (baritone - good sight-reader). Elisabeth sings alto with growing confidence in the choir at St Aidan's URC, Hexham, which Tony conducts. Our family are also musical - more later *

Home page

Some music played on the organ at St Aidan's United Reformed Church, Hexham:

We have a Viscount Vivace 40 digital organ, installed in 2011. It has two manuals, a useful range of stops and several "voices" (baroque, romantic and symphonic), also temperaments (tunings) to improve clarity in simple keys when playing older music. Tony is fortunate to be able to share the playing Sunday by Sunday with another organist, Ian Stewart, so only needs to play every other week - more time to practise!

Techie stuff and a confession:
I record music using a Voice Systems RD-80E® filer, as MIDI data. This means it records not the sound, but keystrokes and stop changes, so when I play the recording back, the organ can't tell whether it's a person or the filer playing. This is very useful when I need to go downstairs to conduct an introit - I can leave the filer playing something I've recorded earlier. The audio files were created by playing the MIDI recordings back and taking the organ audio output via a Behringer Xenyx 302USB® audio mixer to the USB input of a laptop running Nero Wave Editor®.

AND...I can also edit the MIDI file, using Sonar Home Studio 4®, so I can record several takes, then cut-and-paste. And, it must be admitted, I can correct the occasional mis-hit (as you get older, your fingers get smooth and these become more frequent - that's my excuse anyway). BUT I undertake to put on this page only pieces where I can play every bar correctly, even when I couldn't guarantee to play the piece right through without a slip (and, please, no references to André Previn and Eric Morecambe!).

Four selections of music (click on the score for each piece): Note - the recording level was the same for all pieces - you may need to turn your speaker volume up for the quieter parts and pieces (and back down for the louder!).
Some Christmas music
Older organ music
More recent organ music when available
Original compositions


Some Christmas music

Using one of the "Romantic" voices, here is Brahms' prelude based on the carol Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (A rose there blooms...):
And, reverting to the default "Baroque" voicing, J S Bach's well-known prelude on In dulci jubilo, often heard at the end of carol services:
To complete this Christmas selection, here is J S Bach's setting of Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (How brightly shines the morning star), preceded by his chorale setting:

Back to list
Home page



Older organ music

A lively piece by the English composer John Bull Glory to you, O Trinity, using the Valotti temperament, common at that period in Britain:
Jan Sweelinck lived about the same time as Bull. Mein junges Leben hat ein End (My young life has an end) ought to be mournful, but triumph is there as well:
In more sombre mood, An Wasserflüssen Babylon (By the waters of Babylon) by Johann Gottfried Walther, a contemporary of J S Bach:
J S Bach in tuneful style, Sanctify us by thy goodness, from his Cantata no. 22 :
More contemplatively, Auf meinem lieben Gott (To my God, whom I love), by J N Hanff, organist at Schleswig and an influence on J S Bach. I'm using the tremulant, adjusted to be gentle and slow in keeping with German organs of the period - not like a "crematorium stop":
Pachelbel was an important composer of the generation before J S Bach. Here is one of his preludes on the popular chorale melody Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr' (Glory to God alone on high). The Kirnberger temperament is used, to give G major chords particularly clarity:
A more ambitious setting by Pachelbel of Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr' (Glory to God alone on high).
Dietrich Buxtehude was a celebrated organist at Lübeck. J S Bach, a young man at the time, travelled the considerable distance from Leipzig to hear him. This is his setting of Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, often paraphrased as 'A safe stronghold our God is still'. We came out of our wedding to this piece, though it must be said that neither organist nor organ was particularly well suited to baroque music!
J S Bach's Canzona in D minor, described by Bridge and Higgs, the editors of the edition I use, as "beautiful but too little-known":
Another early English piece, though later than Bull. Thomas Tomkins' Fantasia begins simply enough, but the listener is drawn into its increasingly complex and passionate counterpoint:
More English music, though from a much later period (late 19th century). Stanford was born in Ireland, though he worked mainly in England. His prelude On a theme of Orlando Gibbons clearly owes a debt to J S Bach, which sets the player a puzzle: should it be played like Bach, or like a late-Romantic piece? I'm not sure I've got it right yet - comments?:
Another setting of Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'. This one is attributed to J S Bach, but thought more likely to be by a pupil - clearly a good student:
A substantial piece by J S Bach, his Fantasia in C minor BWV562. The first two thirds and the ending are not too difficult, but the bit in between needed several recordings and some cutting and pasting! However, it is such a magnificent piece I deemed it well worth the effort.
To finish with, a little bit of froth by Pachelbel:

Back to list
Home page



More recent organ music

Unfortunately, apart from my own compositions (next section) I can't put recent music on our website for copyright reasons. When I've learned the mysteries of YouTube I can set up links to it - so Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel will be accessible eventually!

Back to list
Home page


Some of Tony's own arrangements and compositions (the ones he can play!), beginning with short pieces reflecting the mood of four Psalms:

Contemplation, based on Psalm 121
Reflection, based on Psalm 23
Resolution, based on Psalm 137
Joy, based on Psalm 150
Six verses, based on my setting of F R Harvergal's hymn Take my life...
Our son Matthew wrote this piece, for oboe, viola and 'cello, as part of an education project in the village of Chinley, Derbyshire. Tony has arranged it for organ:
Doubts & Certainties. An example of musical theology? Written as a simple chorale prelude, I came to see the restless music representing doubts, the chorale melody dogmatic certainties and the underlying, ceaseless pedal line the real certainties i.e. existence and consciousness - God without the baggage? But your interpretation is just as valid!
Interlude. More music for contemplation, perhaps? You might guess that I'd recently been listening to Jan Garbarek.

Back to list
Home page



* Our children and grandchildren are all musical, in different ways. Two have websites where you can hear what they are up to:


Relaxation music by our son Matthew Click on 'Hidden gems'

Matthew's website

Folk music by our younger daughter Elly

Back to top of this page
Home page