Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Organ Recital at Worstead Parish Church on Friday 26th June at 7.30 pm

I am giving an organ recital this coming Friday at 7.30 pm in the beautiful church of Worstead near North Walsham in Norfolk. Worstead was the original home of Worstead cloth and, though now a small village, it was once a thriving, wealthy community. For this reason, it has a very large church - almost on the scale of a cathedral! The organ is lovely too and the acoustics are fantastic. Do come along and listen. Entrance is only £5 (all of which goes to the church) and this includes wine and nibbles afterwards. I will have CDs and scores on sale. Among other things, I am playing a Handel Organ Concerto, Elgar's Nimrod, some Scarlatti, a new piece by Nick Barton (a local composer) and my new Toccata which appears as the final track on my latest album 'Song of Songs'. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Free Download of the Moonlight Sonata (first movement)

You can read on my homepage about how this recording came into being. John Timperley was one of the greatest sound engineers of all time - and a lovely guy too. I'll never forget playing this piece for him on a lovely summer morning after a cup of tea and a chat. Download here and enjoy!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Song of Songs Quiet Day at Edenham, Lincolnshire

Not so long ago, a friend and colleague met my brother Andrew who is a priest and poet in Lincolnshire. She commented that, having met him, she finally understood ME! Certainly, we are peas in a pod, and there is nobody else I work with who is on quite the same wavelength as Andy. He has written words for me since I was at school and it was Andy who came up with the ideas of The Wedding at Cana and the Lazarus Requiem. He wrote the words too for my best-known piece Quanta Qualia.

Every year or so I lead a quiet day at his vicarage near Bourne in Lincolnshire. Known as the Regional House, there are retreats, meetings and quiet days there most days of the week. The hundreds of people who associate with the house bring to it a marvellous atmosphere of warmth, hospitality and spirituality. In the photo above, you can see those who joined Andy and me last week. Andy spoke about the three main areas of the Song of Songs - desire, intimacy and union/marriage. I then added to what he had said and spoke about the way these things are reflected in the actual music. There were breaks throughout the day for people to reflect, a midday Mass and a delicious lunch. We finished with Perfect Love and The Lord's Prayer - and the Toccata formed a suitable Recessional!

Andy and I are in the middle of the photo. On the very left is the old French Assistant from my secondary school. (We hadn't met for almost forty years!) Hidden in there too is Pauline, a remarkable, visionary lady. She would like to form a prayer support group to assist Andy and me in our work. I'll be posting an e mail address for her if you are interested in getting involved.

Discussing a point of interpretation with Julian

It was a real joy to work with Julian Lloyd Webber last week. He has a tone richer and more beautiful than any I have heard in live performance. We recorded the piece he premiered for me at Leeds Castle last year - Gloriette - which is the name of the main round building of the castle.

Some more photos from the latest recording session

Alex and Claire are in the first photo. Alex has been producer on all of my albums, starting with Blue in Blue which we recorded in 2002. I absolutely trust his judgement! Claire is a great friend and a fantastic harpist - the current royal harpist in fact. On this new album, she plays a piece with Julian Lloyd Webber, accompanys Elin in a setting of a poem by Christina Rossetti and plays a brand-new solo harp piece called How Hill.

Below this, I am with the two studio engineers Nick and Tom.

Elin Manahan Thomas and the Raven Quartet

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of working with Elin Manahan Thomas again.  It is Elin who features on the latest album Song of Songs and now has two new items on the next album (for release in October.)  Here we are in the studio, together with two members of the Raven  Quartet - Natalie and Steph.

Monday, 8 June 2009

New CD Recording Session

The recording of some tracks for my new CD took place on Thursday 4th June as outlined in my last blog. It was all a great success - and great fun too! We started with the new piece for the sensational Raven String Quartet who then went on to accompany Elin Manahan Thomas in one of my song settings. Claire Jones brought her beautiful gold harp and also accompanied Elin in a song before recording her brand new piece 'How Hill'. Julian Lloyd Webber arrived in the afternoon and joined forces with Claire for a new transcription of 'Reflexionem', and then I really enjoyed accompanying Julian in the cello and piano piece 'Gloriette'. I finished off the day by playing my three new Broadland Piano Preludes. Like 'How Hill', these are all inspired by the area of Norfolk where I now live.

Alex Van Ingen was producer again and as professional as ever - and, throughout, my manager Paul Wing was at my side, helping to keep me sane. I am very grateful to all who took part - and also to my niece Hannah who helped things to run smoothly in her role as agent to Elin and The Raven Quartet. On this occasion, I managed to get some great photos. I will be posting these on this part of my website in a day or so's time - so do come back!