Last Sunday I had the great privilege of playing the Father Willis Organ at Salisbury Cathedral for Eucharist and Evensong. The invitation came from my old school friend Toby Hill who I had not seen for probably just over 20 years. Toby was bringing his choir, Quorum, from Milton Keynes in order to sing the weekend services. I wasn’t able to play for evensong on Saturday so recruited David Wrigley who I have worked with on many an occasion. I heard that David did a splendid job on the Saturday and played Cesar Franck Choral no.3 in A minor as his postlude after evensong. Absolutely no pressure then.
I arrived at 8.30am just as morning prayer was ended as I had been granted 20 minutes of rehearsal time to familiarise myself with the instrument. Knowing the limitations of the cathedral’s schedule I had specifically chosen to play JS Bach’s St Anne Fugue in Eb after Eucharist on the basis that it has very little in the way of registration changes. For evensong I was a little more ambitious with Adagio in E by Frank Bridge which does require a little more effort in terms of gradual crescendo and de-crescendo. However, I had an hour or so during the course of the afternoon to set that up properly which also gave me an opportunity to explore the delightful sounds available from the might Willis organ.
Toby’s choir, Quorum from Milton Keynes sang the services a-cappella, which meant that my only requirement was to play voluntaries and hymns, with the occasional congregational setting during Eucharist. The choir were fabulous and all told, I had a very enjoyable day at Salisbury Cathedral. I am hoping there will be an opportunity to work with Toby and Quorum again in the future.