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Top organists set to pull out all the stops for summer recital series at York Minster

18 Mar, 2024

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York Minster’s popular organ recitals return this summer with seven internationally renowned musicians taking centre stage in one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals.

The summer recitals will take place on Thursday evenings from 18 July to 29 August, beginning at 7pm. The first six performances will feature world renowned organists including Naji Hakim, prolific organist, composer and improviser; Katelyn Emerson, American virtuoso and scholar; Thomas Trotter, recipient of The Queen’s Medal for Music; and Gordon Stewart, a performer, teacher and conductor who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for services to music. The guest soloists will be joined by York Minster’s own talented musicians – Robert Sharpe, Director of Music, and Benjamin Morris, Assistant Director of Music, both experienced organists performing in the UK and abroad – for six nights of spectacular organ music.

The seventh performance will see star soloist Roger Sayer perform Hans Zimmer’s epic Oscar-nominated Interstellar suite. Sayer, who featured on the film’s official soundtrack as the organ soloist, will bring Christopher Nolan’s dystopian masterpiece to life, as well as performing intergalactic favourites from A Space Odyssey and Holst’s The Planets.

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming you to the 2024 organ recital series with a great line-up of guest artists joining us to showcase York Minster’s renowned Grand Organ in this third series of concerts since its refurbishment by Harrison & Harrison.”

Tickets for the recitals are available HERE priced at £15. A combined season ticket price of £75 for all seven recitals is also available, as well as a concession ticket for under-27s priced at £7.50.

 

Organist details:

Thursday 18 July, 7pm – Thomas Trotter.

Thomas Trotter is one of Britain’s most widely admired musicians, reflected in Her Majesty The Queen awarding him The Queen’s Medal for Music on St Cecilia’s Day 2020. He has performed in Berlin’s “Philharmonie”, the “Gewandhaus” in Leipzig, the “Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam, the “Musikverein” and the “Konzerthaus” in Vienna and London’s Royal Festival Hall. He has played inaugural concerts in places such as Princeton University Chapel USA, Auckland Town Hall in New Zealand and the Royal Albert Hall London. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society award for Best Instrumentalist in 2002, and in 2012 he was named International Performer of the Year by the New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In 2016 he was awarded the Medal of the Royal College of Organists for his achievements in organ-playing.

Thomas Trotter was appointed Birmingham City Organist in 1983 in succession to Sir George Thalben-Ball, celebrating his 800th concert in February 2020. Earlier in his career he was organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, winning the First Prize at the St Albans International Organ Competition in his final year. He has received Honorary Doctorates from Birmingham City University and Birmingham University, and in 2022 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Music.

Alongside his regular recitals in Birmingham, Thomas Trotter tours on four continents and plays at many international festivals such as Bath, Salzburg, and the BBC Proms. He is an active recording artist, appearing most recently on the King’s College Cambridge label playing the complete works of Maurice Duruflé. Current engagements include tours to China and Australia, and organ inaugurations in Finland, Switzerland and the UK.

 

Thursday 25 July, 7pm – Robert Sharpe.

Robert Sharpe succeeded Dr Philip Moore as Director of Music at York Minster in 2008, being only the fifth holder of that position since 1897. He previously held positions at Truro Cathedral; Lichfield Cathedral; Exeter College, Oxford; and St Albans Abbey.

His work at York Minster centres around the daily choral tradition, with its two treble lines (one each of boys and girls) and the famous Minster Grand Organ. In addition, he performs frequently as an organ soloist. He has developed the profile of the Choir of York Minster through recordings, broadcasts and the daily Evensong service. The daily service has gained a reputation both at home and, since livestreaming began as a response to the Covid pandemic, abroad, for the chanting of the psalms and for the breadth of repertoire performed. Robert seeks not only to include the greatest works of the past, but also regularly to commission new works, as well as to champion the work of women composers.

On Easter Day 2021, the Grand Organ was rededicated by the Archbishop of York after a significant (and groundbreaking) reconstruction by the Durham firm of Harrison & Harrison.  This sought to recapture the character of the instrument, as left by Sir Edward Bairstow and Arthur Harrison in 1931. The results have already attracted considerable interest in the world of organ building and are widely acclaimed.

Robert has a keen interest in liturgy and music and the interplay between them, and also in interiors and antique clocks and furniture. He holds fellowships of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal College of Organists.  In 2008, before moving to York, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians and awarded the 2008 Cornwhylen Cross by the Cornish Gorsedd “for an outstanding contribution to religious music in Cornwall”.

From 2019 to 2021, he served as President of the Cathedral Organists’ Association. He is currently serving as President of the Incorporated Association of Organists.

 

Thursday 1 August, 7pm – Katelyn Emerson.

Organist Katelyn Emerson, praised for her ‘loving approach [and] technical excellence, with great sense for lyricism and beauty’ (orgelnieuws.nl), performs throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, showcasing repertoire spanning the 14th—21st centuries and presenting lectures on subjects ranging from organ interpretation and healthy playing techniques, to performance studies and empirical music analysis. Recent and upcoming concert venues include Walt Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Benaroya Hall (Seattle), West Point (New York), Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavík, Iceland), Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid), Kurhaus Wiesbaden (Germany), and Musashino Civic Cultural Hall (Japan).

Katelyn is laureate of organ competitions on three continents, including the American Guild of Organists’ (AGO) National Young Artists, Musashino International Organ Competition (Japan), International Organ Competition “Pierre de Manchicourt” (France), and Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition (Russia). One of The Diapason’s inaugural ‘20 under 30 – Class of 2015’, Katelyn was featured alongside exceptional colleagues for “superior accomplishments… and innovative thinking.” She is regularly invited to adjudicate international playing competitions and to join the faculties of organ academies in France, the UK, the USA, and Canada, as well as to present workshops and concerts at conventions in North America and abroad. She additionally volunteers with charitable organisations such as Scotland’s Sowne of Organe that help increase public awareness of the cultural and technological significance of historic and newly built instruments. Katelyn’s CD recordings, Evocations (2017) and Inspirations (2018), appear on the Pro Organo label.

Katelyn holds degrees from the Musikhochschule Stuttgart (MA Orgel), supported by a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD), University of Cambridge (MPhil Music), supported by a 1+3 ESRC/UKRI Studentship, Oberlin College and Conservatory (BMus Organ/BA French), and Colorado State University (Certificate in Occupational Ergonomics). As recipient of a J. William Fulbright Study/Research Grant, she additionally studied en perfectionnement at the Conservatoire de Toulouse.

 

Thursday 8 August, 7pm – Benjamin Morris.

Benjamin Morris is Assistant Director of Music at York Minster. In this role, he plays for services and accompanies the choir in the Minster’s daily cycle of music, in concerts, tours, recordings and broadcasts, and assists in the training of the choristers. Prior to this, he was Organ Scholar and then Assistant Organist at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating with First-class honours in Music. Before starting university, Ben spent a year as Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral. An experienced conductor and choir trainer, Ben regularly conducts York Minster Choir and is Musical Director of the York-based Chapter House Choir. Ben has spent time as Acting Director of Music both at York Minster and Jesus College, Cambridge.

A prizewinning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, Benjamin Morris is active as an organ soloist, accompanist and continuo player. He has performed as organ soloist under Sir Roger Norrington, Howard Shelley, Paul McCreesh, and Sir Stephen Cleobury, and has played organ and harpsichord continuo alongside His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia. He studied organ with Gordon Stewart, Colin Walsh, David Briggs and Richard Pinel, and harpsichord with Terence Charlston.

 

Thursday 15 August, 7pm – Naji Hakim.

Naji Subhy Paul Irénée Hakim was born in Beirut, 31 October, 1955. He studied with Jean Langlais (organ), Evelyne Aïello (conducting), and at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris – classes of Roger Boutry (harmony), Jean-Claude Henry (counterpoint), Marcel Bitsch (fugue), Rolande Falcinelli (organ), Jacques Castérède (analysis) and Serge Nigg (orchestration), where he was awarded seven first prizes.

He is a licentiate teacher in organ from Trinity College of Music in London and won ten first prizes at international organ and composition competitions. In 1991 he was awarded the Prix André Caplet from the Académie des Beaux-Arts and in 2009 the Premier Prix du Concours de Musique Sacrée de la Cathédrale de Monaco.

At first organist of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Paris from 1985 until 1993, he then became organist of l’église de la Trinité, in succession to Olivier Messiaen (1993-2008). He was professor of musical analysis at the Conservatoire National de Région de Boulogne-Billancourt (1988-2019). He is visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications in Paris, member of the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae in Rome and Doctor honoris causa of the Pontifical University Saint-Esprit of Kaslik, Lebanon.

In 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI awarded Naji Hakim The Augustae crucis insigne pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, for his excellent commitment and work for the benefit of the Church and the Holy Father.

His works include instrumental music (organ, flute, bassoon, horn, trumpet, harp, guitar, violin, viola, cello, piano), symphonic music (Les Noces de l’Agneau, Hymne de l’Univers, Ouverture Libanaise, Påskeblomst, Augsburger Symphonie, five organ concertos, a violin concerto, a piano concerto), and vocal music (oratorio Saul de Tarse, cantata Phèdre, Magnificat and four masses).

Naji Hakim is married to Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet, organist, composer and musicologist. They have two children: Katia-Sofía, poet, pianist and musicologist, and Jean-Paul, lawyer, pianist and composer.

 

Thursday 22 August, 7pm – Gordon Stewart.

Gordon Stewart was born in Dundee and after studies in Manchester and Geneva with Gillian Weir, Eric Chadwick and Lionel Rogg, was for 15 years a cathedral organist, first in Manchester then in Blackburn. For 30 years he was Borough Organist of Kirklees where he played regular concerts on the Father Willis organ in Huddersfield Town Hall. He is now Organist Emeritus.

He has recorded on organs in the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa on the Priory, Dolcan and Lammas labels and has played concertos with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North and Orchestra Victoria. For over 20 years he broadcast regularly as organist and conductor on BBC radio and television, chiefly as a musical director on Daily Service, Sunday Half Hour and Songs of Praise.

Gordon’s repertoire is large and covers all the major schools of organ composition. He is well-known as a teacher, and after several years as Senior Organ Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, was one of the organ teachers at Cambridge University, teaching the organ scholars at, amongst others, King’s, St John’s and Jesus Colleges. He has appeared as visiting tutor at courses for the Royal College of Organists, Oundle Organ Week, Gothenburg Organ Academy and Shenandoah Church Music Institute in Virginia.

Gordon has played concerts throughout the United Kingdom including Celebrity Concerts at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, throughout Europe, and in the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

He is a former president of the Incorporated Association of Organists. He has been awarded honorary fellowships by the Royal College of Organists, the Royal School of Church Music and the Guild of Church Musicians, and an honorary doctorate by the University of Huddersfield. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the King’s first Birthday Honours.

 

Thursday 29 August, 7pm – Roger Sayer.

Virtuosic and versatile, international organ star Roger Sayer was chosen by Hans Zimmer to create the prominent organ role for Christopher Nolan’s gripping film INTERSTELLAR. It was recorded at Temple Church, London in 2014, where Roger was Director of Music. In 2024 he marks the 10th anniversary of its massive global impact with Interstellar 10. He shares his experience of working with two living geniuses of the cinema before playing his own version of the soundtrack, which no other organist is able to do. Performances in Australia and several European countries have already received enthusiastic acclaim. One listener observed ‘if Hans Zimmer is the heart of Interstellar, then you, Sir, are its soul’. The programme will include other space-related music including movements from Holst’s The Planets. A thrilling late-night event not to be missed!

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