Sub-organist, Guildford Cathedral
To include music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Percy Whitlock, Joseph Jongen and Healey Willan.
As is our custom, the new season commenced with an organ recital, and this time on Friday 12th Sept. we were fortunate in hearing Paul Provost the sub organist of Guildford Cathedral playing our recently upgraded instrument.
A programme, somewhat unusual in places, produced some very nimble, almost pianistic, playing from this fine musician who started with J. S. Bach`s Prelude and Fugue B W V 541 in G. Written about 1712 and revised by him after 1740 this composition featured running semi--quavers in 3/4 time interspersed with repeated quaver chords. The other Bach work which we heard in the second half was the Trio Sonata in E flat B W V 525. Written in three movements and so called because the counterpoint is written in three distinct parts, this was a very agreeable piece and produced some fine articulate playing from the organist.
Also in the programme were two of " Five Short Pieces" by Percy Whitfield" Folk Song" and a rather jolly "Scherzo", Schumann`s "Four Sketches for Pedal Piano which seemed to be better suited for the piano than the organ.It is believed that the pedal piano was an instrument used by organists on which to practise their pieces in the absence of an organ.
Two pieces by Joseph Jongen were a stately "Petite Piece" and "Toccata" a rapidly moving and exciting atmospheric composition in direct contrast to the former although being played at different stages of the programme.
A magnificent conclusion to this recital was the E flat Minor "Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue" by Healey Willan. Starting quietly, this gradually builds through a lengthy "ground based" second movement to a powerful, dramatic and sometimes almost dissonant final section to complete an awesome work with which Paul Provost coped admirably.
Paul Provost is Sub Organist of Guildford Cathedral. His work includes assisting the Organist, Katherine Dienes-Williams, in all aspects of running the Cathedral Choirs, as well as being the main organist for Cathedral services. In addition to this he is in demand as a freelance recitalist, accompanist, and choral director, and is the Musical Director of the North Downs Consort. He also deputises regularly directing and accompanying various choral groups, and has worked with orchestras such as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and Southern Sinfonia.
He began studies on the Piano and Cello at the ages of four and six – his early musical inspiration coming from attending choir rehearsals at the local church. Since then church music has played a large part in his life. He was educated at Chetham’s School of Music, where alongside the cello, organ became increasingly his principal study. Paul was Organ Scholar at Manchester Cathedral from 1999 to 2004.
From 2004 to 2007, Paul was Organ Student at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he was responsible for accompanying the daily round of services, and assisting the then Director of Music, David Hill, in training the famous chapel choir. With St John’s, he toured to Paris, Austria, Estonia, the USA, The Netherlands and Venice, in addition to numerous concerts, recordings, and broadcasts. During this time, he was widely active as an accompanist, recitalist and conductor.
Paul has given organ recitals in such venues as Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Kings College, Cambridge, and in the Buxton Festival. Previously to his post at Guildford, Paul was Assistant Director of Chapel Music and Assistant Organist at Winchester College. He is married to Ruth, a freelance singer working across the country, and when not immersed in the complicated life of Cathedral Music can usually be found somewhere in the Cumbrian Fells.