a career which brought him to Leeds, in

Leeds Minster
The Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster ~ Registered Charity 1055944
A seasonal selection
December 2012
All are warmly welcome at Friday Midday Prayers from 12.00 in the Lady Chapel
You are asked to give generously to the Retiring Collection at each Recital –
please complete a Gift Aid Envelope if you are a UK Tax Payer; it helps greatly.
All proceeds are devoted to the tuning and maintenance of the Minster’s
magnificent organ – a task funded on an annual basis by grants from the
Friends of the Music of Leeds Minster.
The Friends of the Music express special thanks to all who generously assist in the presentation
of lunchtime organ music in general and this month’s series in particular:
The performer, for generously giving his services
Iain Howell, Senior Verger & Registrar
David Hawkin for much help with publicity
The Friday “Team” at the Minster Visitors’ Centre and Café
All Volunteers at the Minster Refectory, for provision of wonderful refreshments
Andrew Carter, A J Carter, Organ Builders ~ Michael Vary/Mark Walker, Allfab Engineering
The Organ of Leeds Minster
The first Organ at Leeds Minster was installed in 1714. Major work on the instrument was
undertaken by Greenwood Brothers of Leeds in 1815 – and again in 1841, when the organ was
moved to the present building in time for the consecration on 2nd September. Additions were
provided by Holt, Hill and Schulze in 1859 and the instrument rebuilt by Abbott & Smith of
Leeds in 1883 and 1899, by which time it had five manuals and pedals. The major re-construction
of the organ by Harrison & Harrison of Durham in 1913 gave us the organ as we now know it.
Further work by Harrison took place in 1927 and, importantly, in 1949. Somewhat unusually for
a Harrison, the Leeds organ - though speaking unmistakably with a Harrison voice incorporates recognisable earlier pipework by other famous hands: Hill, Schulze, Abbott &
Smith and, after 1965, by Wood, Wordsworth and Stinkens. The Leeds firm of Wood,
Wordsworth & Co undertook a major scheme in 1965 when the pipework of the famous Altar
Organ was incorporated into the main body of the instrument. Several new stops were added
and the console re-furbished. The character of the original pipework was, in general, carefully
maintained up to, and during the programme of restoration recently completed.
The major Restoration Appeal of 1994 here at the Minster provided funds for a substantial and
thorough restoration of the organ, including re-construction of the Blowing Plant, replacement of
the console mechanisms, actions and complete cleaning and overhaul; this work was carried out
by A J Carter Organ Builders of Wakefield, which firm has had the care of the instrument for
many years. The Blowing Plant works were by Allfab Engineering of Methley. The Consultants
to the Vicar and Churchwardens were Dr Noel Rawsthorne of Liverpool [Main Adviser], the
Organist and Master of the Music [Dr Simon Lindley] and the Ripon Diocesan Organ Adviser
[Mr Anthony J Cooke].
 A complete history of the organ is in Parish, Past and Present by Dr Donald Webster [£5]
 Recordings of the Organ, Choir and Organists are also available from the Visitors’ Centre
Special Upcoming
Advent Sunday 2 6.30 pm – Traditional Advent Carol Service
Wednesday 12 7.00 pm – Carols for a Choral Future Gala
Christmas Concert in aid of the Minster Choir Fund
Sunday 16 3.00 pm Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
“The City’s Carol Service”
December Programmes
Friday 7th December
Marcel Dupré
Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Francis Jackson
Andrew Carter
Alexandre Guilmant
Diderick Buxtehude
John Cook
Friday 14th December
John Rutter
French Noëls:
Bryan Kelly
John Henry Maunder
Three Carol Preludes:
Julien Bret
Friday 21st December
Marcel Dupré
Pietro Yon
Arthur Bliss
C Armstrong Gibbs
Jean-Jaques Beauvarlet-Charpentier
Robert Schumann
Alexandre Guilmant
Le Monde dans l'attente du Sauveur
(from Symphonie Passion)
Saluto Angelico
Scherzetto Pastorale
A Christmas Canon on Forest Green
Noël: Chant du Roi Rene
In dulci iubilo
Paean on Divinum Mysterium
Prelude on God rest you merry, gentlemen
Théodore Dubois Noël
Louis Claude Daquin
Noël Etranger
Jeanne Demessieux
Musette: Adeste fidelis
Runne Sheepheards Run
(Nativity Scenes)
Caravan of the Magi
Helmut Walcha Quem pastores
Harrison Oxley Whence is that goodly fragrance?
Russell Schulz-Widmar The Sussex Carol
Valse des Anges
Variations on Il est né, le Divin enfant
Gesu Bambino
Christmas Ballet for Children (Things to Come)
Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child
Noël with Variations
Final alla Schumann
on a Carol from Languedoc
Friday 7 December
Among his many gifts as a musician Marcel Dupré [1886–1971] was an
outstanding exponent of the art of improvisation, and many of his organ
works originated as improvisations during concerts and services. His
Symphonie-Passion, one of the most notable examples, started life in an
American department store, of all places. In 1921 Dupré made his first visit
to the USA where he was treated as a superstar. On 8 December he gave a
concert in Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia. This housed a large organ
(about six times as large as the one in Leeds Minster) which was used not
only for concerts, but also to lead the sales staff and customers in singing at
the start and close of business each day.
His concert ended with an improvisation on submitted themes. Among
them were a number of liturgical melodies, and writing about the event
only a few months before his death he recalled that, on seeing the themes: “I
had in a flash the vision of a symphony on four movements…. I played in a
state of exaltation that I have seldom known”. He spent the night sketching
the outlines of this improvisation, but did not find the time to produce the
finished work until 1924.
The World awaiting the Saviour is the first movement. It opens with rapidly
repeating chords whose rhythms and harmonies show some influence of
the popular music of the age. The music becomes more intense, but breaks
off suddenly. We then hear the first of the submitted themes - Jesu
Redemptor Omnium – on a quiet oboe stop. The restless opening returns, but
now Jesu Redemptor is now never far away: it comes to dominate the music,
and the movement ends with a triumphant affirmation that Christ really
will come to redeem the world.
The six Cathedral Windows by Sigfrid Karg-Elert [1877–1933] are mostly
based on plainsong themes. One of the organists at the Karg-Elert Festival,
held in London in 1930, wrote about the work: “The themes, austere and
neutral in tone, have by some alchemy been fused and expanded into
movements indeed as brilliant and many-coloured as fifteenth century
stained glass”. Saluto Angelico employs many of the quiet colours of the
organ in a lush setting of the plainsong: Hail Mary, full of grace: Blessed art
Thou among women
Scherzetto Pastorale was written by Francis Jackson for a Christmas Album
published by OUP in 1956. The composer describes the work as suggesting
“distant bells on the frosty night air”. Towards the end Good King Wenceslas
makes a very brief appearance – although you will need to be alert to spot
Although he was born in Leicester, Andrew Carter [born 1939] has been
very much associated with the musical life of Yorkshire. After graduating
from the University of Leeds he joined the choir of York Minster. He was
also Director of Music of the nearby St Mary’s Convent Grammar School,
and in 1965 he founded the renowned Chapter House Choir. Andrew and
his music have also been frequent and welcome visitors to Leeds Minster.
His Christmas Canon is a reworking of an early piece for handbells.
Many composers have written works based on the chorale In dulci iubilo (‘In
sweet rejoicing’). The best known is probably JS Bach’s dramatic Fantasia, a
popular choice for terminating a Christmas service. Diderick Buxtehude
[1637–1707] provides a very different reflection on the nativity in this
Prelude on the chorale.
The distinguished French organist Alexandre Guilmant [1837–1911] was a
well-travelled performer: he undertook three concert tours of the USA, and
was a frequent visitor to this country. In the 1890s he gave at least three
concerts at Leeds Parish Church. In the second of these, on December 6
1892, he accompanied the Parish Church Choir in a performance of Brahms’
Requiem, complete with an impressive improvised prelude to the work. The
Leeds Mercury reported that the Church was crowded, and that the listeners
praised his skill as an accompanist and in his use of the organ.
Guilmant was also a prolific composer, who would think nothing of writing
a complete organ piece before breakfast on a train journey. His works
included four collections of settings of Noëls. Today’s lively example is
based on a carol from Provence. Its title refers to René of Anjou [1409–
1480], who managed to accumulate an impressive collection of dukedoms
and royal titles as well as showing a great interest in the arts.
John Cook [1918–1964] was organist of Shakespeare’s church – Holy Trinity
Stratford on Avon – for a number of years before moving to Canada as
organist of the cathedral of London, Ontario. This Paean on Divinum
Mysterium was written for a collection of Festal Voluntaries, published by
Novello in 1956. There is a central dance-like section which leads to a
spectacular Toccata, reflecting the final verse of the hymn:
Sing, ye heights of heaven, his praises; Angels and Archangels, sing!
Friday 14th December
Although the fame of John Rutter [born 1945] arises mainly from his choral
music, he has occasionally written some purely instrumental music. This
Prelude on God rest you merry, gentlemen was written about 35 years ago.
After an introduction the piece combines the well-known tune with the
sound of seasonal bells
Théodore Dubois [1837–1924] was chosen by César Franck to be maître de
chapelle at the newly opened church of Ste Clothilde. Later Dubois moved
to a similar role at the church of La Madeleine. Eventually he succeeded
Saint-Saëns as organist there, a post he later relinquished when he became
Director of the Paris Conservatoire. This Noël comes from his set of Twelve
New Pieces, and is in effect a short set of lyrical variations on a French carol.
Louis Claude Daquin [1694–1772] was regarded as the finest organist of his
day, and in 1739 was appointed Organist to the King. His only published
composition for organ was a set of twelve Noëls. As its name suggests, Noël
Etranger is based on a foreign carol, but nobody seems to know its name.
The distinguished French organist Marie-Claire Alain has suggested that it
may in fact be an Italian dance.
Jeanne Demessieux [1921–1968] held office as Organist of La Madeleine for
six years until her early death from cancer robbed the organ world of one its
most remarkable talents. Her repertoire, all played from memory, was
enormous, and her virtuosity was breathtaking. She was a frequent visitor
to this country: her last appearance here was at the inauguration of
Liverpool Catholic Cathedral
Most of her compositions reflect her virtuosity, but she was persuaded to
write a set of twelve short preludes which could also be played by those of
more modest abilities. They are based on themes representing the Church’s
year. In the one for Christmas she transforms a very familiar hymn into a
mood of rustic charm.
Bryan Kelly [born 1934] studied at the Royal College of Music, and later
worked there for many years as a teacher. He now divides his time between
retirement in France and a career in Egypt, including work at the Cairo
Opera. He has written much for the Anglican liturgy, and his Magnificat and
Nunc Dimittis on Latin American Rhythms has provided choirs and
organists with an enjoyable challenge for over forty years. Runne
Sheepheards run where Bethlem blest appears is the second of his Three
Christmas Meditations. As its title suggests it evokes the image of the
shepherds making a frantic dash to the stable, culminating in a rather noisy
John Henry Maunder [1858–1920], a London organist, is famous for just
one work, his Passiontide cantata Olivet to Calvary, which received a
memorable performance here earlier this year. He did compose other
works, including a Christmas Cantata Bethlehem, which includes The
Caravan of the Magi. Helpfully he provided a programme note: “This March
represents the approach and departure of the Caravan of the Magi bringing
gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Infant Jesus. The melody is constructed
on the Pentatonic Scale (of five notes), which was used in primitive times
and in much Eastern music.”
Helmut Walcha [1907–1991], a native of Leipzig, gained an outstanding
reputation as a performer of Bach’s music. He twice made classic recordings
if the complete organ works, as well as recording much of the music for
harpsichord. In addition to his performing and teaching he was an
outstanding improviser in the context of the Lutheran Liturgy., and no
doubt this aspect of his art prompted the composition of four volumes of
chorale preludes. Today’s example portrays two cheerful pipers and one on
a single drone bass.
Harrison Oxley [1933–2009] was appointed organist of St Edmundsbury
Cathedral at the age of 24 – which made him the youngest cathedral
organist in the country. One of the most notable of his many achievements
there was to introduce girls into the choir. He reasoned that “I do not see
why we should bar half of humanity from the benefits and opportunities of
cathedral choir membership. In the end most cathedrals will be obliged to
follow our lead and will see it as the just and right way forward." At the
time such a move was highly controversial and the issue eventually forced
his resignation, although he continued to be at the centre of musical life in
Bury St Edmunds. This lyrical Prelude on Whence is that goodly fragrance? is
the first of Two Carols for Organ.
Russell Schulz-Widmar [born 1944] spent most of his career in Texas, as
University Professor of Liturgical Music, and as Director of Music in a
number of churches. His Prelude on the Sussex Carol moves though a
surprising number of keys and colours, considering that the whole piece
lasts only about two minutes.
Today I have portrayed the Shepherds and the Wise Men, and so it now
seems appropriate to include some music for the Angels. All three groups
are useful in creating unlimited bit parts in childrens nativity plays
(although the appearance of four Wise Men might raise a few pedantic
eyebrows). Julien Bret [born 1974] is organist of Notre-Dame de
Bonsecours, near Rouen, but seems equally enthusiastic about music for the
cinema organ. If I tell you that one of his few other works for organ quotes
music from the Popeye cartoons then you might well expect an
unconventional and entertaining portrait of the angels in his Valse des Anges.
Friday 21st December
Most of Marcel Dupré’s organ music reflects his roles as teacher and
virtuoso organist. However, these Variations on Il est né, le Divin enfant
reflect his role as a father. His daughter, Marguerite, was a superb pianist,
and he wrote them in 1948 for her to play during her first Christmas as
volunteer organist in her village church. He regarded it simply as
something for the family, and it was not published until 1996 – long after
the death of father and daughter. A setting of the well-known carol is
followed by four short variations: the final fugue suggests that Marguerite
was well able to cope with the pedals of the organ.
Pietro Yon [1886–1943] was born in the Piedmont region of Italy. After
study in Italy and serving the Vatican as an organist he emigrated to
America in 1907. Later he became Organist of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New
York. Since this was the most prominent Catholic church in the country he
was able to wield great influence on Catholic church music. Gesu Bambino,
written in 1917, is a carol for voice and piano. It has been a remarkably
successful piece, existing in numerous arrangements and recordings. This
organ arrangement, probably by Yon, was published the same year.
When blossoms flowered 'mid the snows upon a winter night,
Was born the Child, the Christmas Rose, the King of Love and Light.
O come, let us adore Him.
The film Things to come, made in 1936, was based on a novel by H G Wells.
The music, composed by Arthur Bliss [1891–1975] has become a classic of
the genre. The film opens at Christmas in a place called Everytown. There
are scenes of seasonal merriment, such as carol singers and happy shoppers.
But all is not well – newspaper hoardings announce that war is imminent: a
ruthless foreign dictator is keen to expand his empire. None of this bothers
the children, who are shown enjoying their presents, to the accompaniment
of the music of this Ballet for Children.
This version for organ is one of a number of recent transcriptions of Bliss’
music, including the famous March from Things to come, made by Robert
Cecil Armstrong Gibbs [1889–1960] was a prolific composer who used his
melodic gifts in a wide variety of genres – from songs to symphonies and
operas. He also made occasional forays into the world of organ music. Like
Francis Jackson’s piece, heard two weeks ago, Lullay, Thou little tiny Child
was written for a collection of Christmas music published by OUP in 1956.
The title refers to the words of the Coventry Carol, but he creates his own
haunting meditation on the words of the Carol, rather than directly quoting
its melody.
Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier [1734–1794] was a part time organist
of Notre Dame Cathedral as well as holding appointments at various royal
churches. This Noël is an elegant set of variations, culminating in a short
cadenza. The carol on which they are based can be freely translated as:
Neighbour, what has you so excited? Do tell me please.
Haven't you heard a child is born that all want to see?
Son of a pure and modest virgin, Mary's her name
They say her baby is the saviour prophets proclaim
Träumerei (Dreaming) is the best known of Kinderszenen (Scenes from
Childhood), a cycle of thirteen piano pieces by Robert Schumann. The
distinguished pianist Angela Hewitt has written of this piece: “I have often
played this for an otherwise noisy group of school children as an example
of a piece where you must be totally quiet to hear what is being said, asking
them to dream something special at the same time.”
Guilmant’s homage to Schumann is his own arrangement of Final alla
Schumann – a lively piece for organ and orchestra, based on a carol from
Languedoc: Shepherds, come to see the thing which is true.
There are obvious links between these last two pieces, but you might also
regard them as an impression of a house full of children, early on Christmas
morning – the peace while they are asleep is shattered by the mayhem
when they wake up.
Happy Christmas!
Christopher Newton was born in Manchester and first learnt the organ
with William Hardwick at St Ann’s Church in the city centre. He studied
chemistry at the Universities of Salford and Manchester, where he gained a
PhD. After several years working in London he returned north to join the
Careers Centre of the University of Leeds. He soon began his long
association with the church of St Bartholomew, Armley, where he was
attracted by the famous Schulze organ (and the church’s bar). He plays
there regularly for services and for recitals, and in 2004 he recorded Schulze
Showpieces – the first CD of the newly restored instrument. The contents of
his long standing series of Bank Holiday recitals prompted a member of the
congregation to describe him as a ‘a devoted organist sniffer-dog,
discovering pieces long since buried, some deservedly so, but others
turning out to be forgotten gems’. He also plays for University degree
ceremonies, and is an accompanist for visiting choirs at cathedrals
throughout the country. Recent visits include playing at Salisbury,
Coventry and Ripon Cathedrals, and at York Minster.
Leeds Minster – Carol Events 2012 include
Sunday 2 December 6.30 Advent Carol Service
Wednesday 12 December 7.00 Carols for a Choral Future
Sunday 16 December 3.00 Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols
Leeds Minster
Some upcoming diary dates
Sunday 2 December
6.30 pm
Advent Carol Service
Singers/National Festival Orchestra Principals
Tuesday 4 December
6.30 pm
Carols for The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre
Wednesday 5 December 7.00 pm
at Leeds Town Hall
The Lord Mayor’s Carol Concert for People
with Special Educational Needs
Thursday 6 December
7.00 pm
Carol Service – Yorkshire Evening Post
Readers’ Choices
Friday 7 December
7.00 pm
Carols for the Rotary Clubs of Leeds
Saturday 8 December
11.00 am
Carols for Age UK
Tuesday 11 December
7.00 pm
BBC Radio Leeds Music & Readings for Christmas
Wednesday 12 December 7.00 pm
Carols for a Choral Future
The Choirs of Leeds Minster – St Peter’s Singers
Leeds College of Music Community Choral Society
David Houlder organ
Sunday 16 December
10.30 am
3.00 pm
The Eucharist and Nativity Tableaux
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
“The City’s Carol Service”
Tuesday 18 December
12.00 noon Processional Carols – Leeds Markets
Sunday 23 December
10.30 am
Christmas Eve
12.00 noon Children’s Crib Service [Girls’ Choir]
4.00 pm
Choral Evensong
11.30 pm
Midnight Mass [Adult Choir] – Mozart
Choral Eucharist [Adult Choir]
Christmas Day
9.15 am
10.30 am
Prayer Book Holy Communion with Hymns
Choral Festal Matins
Full details of asterisked events are available from Dr Lindley and/or on separate handbills