Organist, Christchurch Priory
Handel, Reger, Parry, Hollins, Lemare, Hurford, Bach, Fauré, Mulet
Handel (arr. Lang and Best)
Organ Concerto No 2 in B flat. Tempo Ordinario and Allegro
Benedictus Op 59
Fantasia and Fugue in G
Concert Fantasia Op 91
Suite "Laudate Dominum"
- Rondo da Chiesa
- French Carol
- Exurgat Deus
Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 547
"Aprèz un Rȇve"
Tu es petra (from Esquisses Byzantine)
Geoffrey Morgan, renowned for both his playing and his inside knowledge of the workings of pipe organs, was our third artist to perform within a month, when he gave a thrilling and demanding organ recital on Friday evening 19th. February. A glance at his c.v, shows him having had an early apprenticeship with a firm of organ builders, and as a consequence his progression "through the ranks" to musical excellence and academe was as a relative latecomer. However, probably the best drivers are those who know something about the inner workings of a car and so it is with organists, and Geoffrey is certainly one of them.
No fewer than nine composers were chosen for his programme and before playing, Geoffrey, showed that he was an accomplished raconteur with an accompanying story, often amusing, about each piece.
From an initial, rather jolly, concerto by Handel in B flat, his next item was the beautiful "Benedictus" Op109 by Max Reger. Containing subtle key changes, this was played with great sensitivity and showed a masterly command of registration chosen to produce luscious sounds from the organ.
Parry`s Fantasia and Fugue in G, not very well known, proved to be a powerful composition with a long and complicated fugue with extended entries and inversions, and in direct contrast to this there followed an attractive lighter piece by the blind organist Alfred Hollins. This latter, blended two simple tunes together in a most ingenious way and led on to Edwin Lemare`s "Concert Fantasia"Op.91.as the last item before the interval. This, cleverly mixed together four well known popular songs including "What shall we do with the drunken sailor", "British Grenadiers" "Rule Britannia" and very subtly "Auld Lang Syne" creeping in at the end, and insured that the audience departed for the coffee lounge in high spirits!
The concert continued with Peter Hurford`s Suite "Laudate Dominum" -- six musical reflections from the Psalms, each extract, being first ably read, by Gillian Lloyd. This combination of prose and music was very effective and again showed the organist`s innate ability to extract the most sympathetic feeling from the instrument.
J.S.Bach,being mandatory in any organ recital, we next heard his Prelude and Fugue in C --BWV 547.-- an apparently jolly, simple and very attractive prelude followed by the fugue, one feature of which, being the very late entry of the pedals before the final climax.
Gabriel Faure`s well loved piano composition "Apres un Reve" was brought to life most evocatively with exquisite use of dynamics and the appropriate registrations, and finally the toccata "Tu es petra" from "Esquisses Byzantine" by Henri Mulet brought to a dramatic conclusion this fine recital by a master of the art of organ playing.
Geoffrey Morgan's career has been unconventional. Brought up in the Free Church, he was twenty before he played for his first Evensong. As a very young schoolboy, however, he played regularly in Baptist, Methodist and Congregational churches, where he developed his love for hymns and their accompaniment. His first official post as a church organist was at the age of thirteen and, just four years later, in 1963 Charles Smart engaged him to play the organ for a compilation of hymns recorded as an LP on the Decca label, involving such well-known singers as Heather Harper and Wilfred Brown, and the percussionist James Blades.
Upon leaving school at sixteen, Geoffrey started an apprenticeship with J. W. Walker and Sons Ltd. and his fascination with organbuilding has remained with him ever since; though he eventually became a graduate student at Trinity College of Music. His teachers there included Harry Gabb and Charles Proctor, who quickly appointed him as organist to the Alexandra Choir. Thus it was that from the age of only twenty-one Geoffrey was regularly playing for concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and on London's South Bank.
In 1965 he played in the London master classes of Flor Peeters; and in 1969, a scholarship from the British Council enabled him to undertake further study with Dr Peeters in Belgium.
In 1975, Geoffrey's promising career as a teacher was interrupted when he won first prize in the London Organ Week competition and later, at aged thirty-one, the organ scholarship to Magdalen College Oxford.
From this followed the post of Assistant Organist at Westminster Abbey, where for much of the time he worked under the direction of Simon Preston, playing for many special services and performing at the Royal Wedding of 1986.
After ten years at the Abbey, Geoffrey became Visiting Professor of Organ at Yale University, U.S.A., later taking up the post of Sub Organist at Guildford Cathedral in 1989, where he was also Diocesan Organ Adviser, and Conductor of the Fleet Choral Society.
Geoffrey has been involved in many recordings and BBC broadcasts, both as a soloist and accompanist. His solo CD "English Contrasts", recorded at Guildford Cathedral, received a five-star category in "Choir and Organ".
Since 2002, in addition to pursuing his own freelance work, he has been organist of Christchurch Priory, where he is custodian of one of the finest organs on the South Coast.
He has played the organ on tour in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Australia and USA. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and of Trinity College of Music; and in 2006 was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Guild of Church Musicians, for his services to Church Music.
Geoffrey is an organ adviser to the United Reformed Church.