Because live performances were not able to take place throughout the 2020-21 Kirklees Concert Season due to Covid 19 restrictions, fortnightly online organ concerts with Dr Gordon Stewart playing the magnificent Father Willis Organ in Huddersfield Town Hall were streamed between September and December 2020.
The series of six concerts (with an additional one downloaded on 5 October in celebration of the 103rd birthday of the great British organist and composer Francis Jackson) are now available to view at any time via this page or our Youtube channel. There is an array of music from composers including Handel, Bach, Carter and Mendelssohn. Each concert lasts for around an hour.
Highlights include special guest Tom Osborne, Hallé Orchestra’s co-principle trumpeter, who joined the musical celebrations on the 12 October recording and 9 November with programmes stretching from Padre Martini to Ennio Morricone. Tom plays cornet showpieces Höhne’s Slavische Fantasie, Telemann’s Concerto in D and Noel Rawsthorne’s Aria.
You are also treated to a Huddersfield premiere at the October 26 recording with Bach’s Chorale from Cantata 80. Despite the final movement being one of Bach’s most complex featuring chorus, brass and strings, it has been arranged by the American composer Gerald Near as an organ solo.
The 2021-22 Kirklees Organ Concert Season is currently being planned when hopefully live concerts will be resumed.
An Introduction to the Organ Concert Season with Gordon Stewart
Gordon Stewart introduces the series and demonstrates the famous Father Willis organ.
Organ Concert One
The series opens with a typical Town Hall programme including Handel’s Overture to the Occasional Oratorio, Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A Minor and Tombelle’s Toccata.
Francis Jackson Birthday Celebration
The next in the series of Huddersfield Town Hall’s streamed organ concerts is a celebration of the 103rd birthday of the great British organist and composer Francis Jackson.
Kirklees Borough Organist Dr Gordon Stewart performs three works by Jackson – best known for his long tenure as organist and director of music at York Minster – and shares a previously unheard archive interview with him during the concert.
Dr Gordon Stewart comments:
“Following our celebration of Francis Jackson’s centenary year with a memorable Huddersfield concert in 2017, we’re delighted to able to mark his birthday again this year, and to reach a wider audience than ever as our season of streamed events continues.
“The programme includes Francis’ first published work, which he wrote during World War II, and I’m very excited to share a chat that I had with him about five years ago, which is full of great stories about his long life in music, going back to his time as a chorister under Sir Edward Bairstow.”
Organ Concert Two
Gordon is joined by special guest Tom Osborne, co-principal trumpet of the Hallé Orchestra, in a programme stretching from Padre Martini to Ennio Morricone.
Organ Concert Three
Bach’s Cantata 80 is based on Luther’s chorale, Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott. The final movement, one of Bach’s most complex, features chorus, brass and strings. It has been arranged by the American composer Gerald Near as an organ solo; this will be its Huddersfield premier.
Organ Concert Four
To celebrate the restoration of the Father Willis organ in 1998 Noel Rawsthorne was asked to write a piece which was performed at a Gala Concert. He was asked for ‘concert music’ and came up with the idea of a suite of dances. They are dedicated to Gordon Stewart who has played them four continents! Tom Osborne makes a guest appearance to play Telemann’s Concerto in D and Noel Rawsthorne’s Aria.
Organ Concert Five
Towards the end of his life Noel Rawsthorne was writing a partita based on the chorale Ein’ feste Burg dedicated to Gordon Stewart. Following his death his widow sent the movements which had been completed to Gordon Stewart. Sadly the final movement was incomplete, so Gordon commissioned the organist, pianist and composer Ben Comeau to write the proposed Fugue and Toccata. Today’s performance is the world premier.
Organ Concert Six
With Christmas just round the corner Gordon Stewart plays a programme featuring music based on Christmas themes from four countries. Local composer Robert Cockroft is included with his charming Variations on a New Noël.
The University of Huddersfield Christmas Brass Extravaganza.
This concert featured a range of festive favourites such as Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and even Somewhere in My Memory from the Christmas classic movie – Home Alone.
The Kirklees Concert Season is delivered in partnership with Opera North across the district, in both Huddersfield and Dewsbury Town Halls, as well as running engagement programmes. Due to COVID, performances to a live audience will not take place until September 2021, in the meantime we hope you have enjoyed these online concerts.
To support the Kirklees Concert Season, please ‘pay as you feel’ and donate below.
Click here to find out more about the Kirklees Concert Season.
Click here to find out more about Opera North.