J.S.Bach, Thalben-Ball, Ogden, Widor & Tchaikovsky
Johann Sebastian Bach
Prelude and Fugue in G BWV 541
Sir George Thalben-Ball
Variations on a theme of Paganini for pedals
Mr Mozart takes a sleigh-ride
Allegro, from Symphony No 6 in G minor Op 42 No 2
Symphony No 4 in F minor, arr David Briggs
A superb organist with formidable technique, Philip Scriven commanded our attention on Friday 21st Feb. with a varied programme starting with J.S. Bach`s Prelude and Fugue in G, B.W.V.541 which he attacked in a lively and spirited fashion.
Yet more variations on Paganini`s well known Theme followed,this time written by George Thalben-Ball and played mostly on the foot pedals and consequently requiring very deft movements indeed.
Between the Variations and the powerful and well known Allegro from Widor`s G minor Symphony, Philip sandwiched in a "pot pourri" of favourite arias by Nigel Ogden entitled "Mr Mozart takes a Sleigh Ride",and which helped to provide a lighter contrast for what was to follow after the break. This was David Brigg`s ambitious arrangement of Tchaikovsky`s F Minor Fourth Symphony,which was a true `tour de force` for the organist throughout the four movements. Although not having quite the conviction of a Symphony Orchestra, it certainly stretched the potential of our organ to the utmost, and convinced the audience that here was a very fine instrument played by a musician of the highest rank.
Philip Scriven is Organist-in-Residence at Cranleigh School, Principal Conductor of the Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra, and Assistant Conductor and Accompanist of the Bach Choir. He combines these posts with a freelance recital career, which takes him around the world. He is widely regarded as one of the finest organists of his generation, and highly respected as a choral, orchestral and operatic conductor.
Born in Somerset in 1970, Philip received his early musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, and a Music Scholar at Charterhouse. He went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, Cambridge University, the Vienna Musikhochschule and the Juilliard School in New York. As an organist, he has held positions at St. George’s Windsor, St. John’s College Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Winchester Cathedral and Lichfield Cathedral, where he was Director of Music (2002-2010). He regularly plays continuo with orchestras such as Ex Cathedra, Florilegium and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
His talent as a performer and an accompanist has been recognised by numerous awards at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Organists, most notably as the RCO “Performer of the Year” in 1995. He has performed in many of the major Cathedrals and concert halls throughout the UK, and regular foreign tours have taken him to France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and, most frequently of all, America. He is one of the few organists to have performed as a soloist in Carnegie Hall. In addition to his work at Cranleigh, he teaches privately, was for many years the organ tutor at the Charterhouse Summer School of Music, and is currently Adjunct Professor of Organ and Conducting at the Hong Kong Institute of Music Plus. He has twice performed the complete organ works of J.S.Bach, and has transcribed a number of works by Brahms, Warlock and Bernstein for the instrument. He has made a number of solo CDs, each of which has been received with wide critical acclaim – his CD “Piping Hot” was praised in The Gramophone for “the outstanding quality of his playing…good-humoured and sparkling…a joy to listen to”. Recent recordings include CDs of jazz-inspired music for organ, the inaugural recording of the new organ at Lyme Regis, and a transcription of Holst’s “The Planets”.
As a repetiteur, he has worked for English National Opera and Welsh National Opera, and has also conducted productions for Cambridge University Opera and for Pimlico Opera (“The Beggars Opera” in Winchester Prison in 2002). He was Assistant Conductor for Barroco na Bahia in Brazil (Hansel and Gretel), and also for the Glyndebourne Festival in 2002 (The Marriage of Figaro). He has conducted the Waynflete Singers, the Bach Choir, and the Lichfield Cathedral Chorus (Musical Director, 2002-2010), and regularly gives choral workshops throughout the country. He has also worked with the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and is co-founder and Principal Conductor of the Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra.