In recent weeks and months there have been few opportunities for us to go out and gather information and stories of general interest. So it was a pleasure to be able to respond to a request for help from Ian Higginson.
I’m struck by the contrast between social media and what I shall describe as ‘old school media’ News which is dominated by bad news. Good news hardly gets a look in unless it is exceptional as in the case recently of Captain Tom Moore.
Social media has its problems for sure with fake news but at least there is also a far higher percentage of good news as individuals are incredibly keen and quick to share relatively minor but positive life events. Goodness knows at the moment we all need more good news!
So please read on and get some good news for a change!
Ian Higginson adds to growing library of published compositions
Like far too many other musicians, Ian who usually works in the University world and privately teaches organ and piano and directs choirs, has found himself isolated from all his usual sources of work.
Rather than sit back and extend his vegetable patch (as some of us have been doing) Ian has got his composing hat back on and added to his growing library of published compositions with a new album for organ, ‘Organ Sound Colours Volume 1’. Produced almost exclusively in the last 3 months.
There is huge appetite amongst us ‘amateur musicians’ for accessible scores with tunes and it is especially nice to see a living composer happily write for this sector of the market. I am always looking out for material that is in my technical range -up to grade 7/8 but pleased with some easier work that I might more or less sight read my way through – and Ian has hit that precise corridor.
This is volume 1 and I wait with anticipation for volume 2. However, I will not mind if it’s a long wait, indicating that Ian has at last been able to get back to a more normal mix of work.
“Organ Sound Colours” – Volume 1 by Ian Higginson
Foreword by Ian Higginson as quoted from his book;
There are a total of twelve new organ pieces included in this album which were composed in Tetbury, England in 2020, seven of which are original and five that are based on well-known hymn tunes.
It is hoped that these pieces which all vary in style, will be useful as either organ voluntaries for services, weddings, funerals, or as recital pieces. Many of the pieces could also easily be combined to form suites, as they are of contrasting form, Tempo and character. Although suggested registrations have been given for each individual piece, these may have go be adapted to suit the instrument available.
This album is dedicated to Trevor Tipple MBE, who recently retired after serving 60 years as both an organ builder and as a church organist and choirmaster in the Midlands.
Ian Higginson 2020
Listen to short sound clips
Below you’ll find some recordings made by our colleague Jonathan Kingston on his Viscount Envoy 35-F organ. I think you will agree they are well crafted, accessible and fun. A very worthy addition to any village or professional organist’s music cupboard.
Postlude on ‘Forty Days & Forty Nights (Excerpt) (Bars 47 – End):
Dance on “B.A.C.H” (Excerpt) (Bars 1 – 16) (See score here):
Prelude on ‘Drop, Drop Slow Tears (Excerpt) (Bars 1 – 15) (See score here):
Prelude on ‘There is a Green Hill’ (Excerpt) (Bars 1 – 16):
‘Intermezzo’ (Excerpt) (Bars 1 – 16) (See score here):
‘Trumpet Tune’ (Excerpt) (Bars 1 – 16):
Buy “Organ Sound Colours” – Volume 1
The “Organ Sound Colours” Volume 1 is available from the distributors of Parish Publications below:
RSCM Music Direct website Price £20.00.
Forsyth’s Music Shop, Manchester – Price £20.00
This is an exciting new publication, the first in a ‘Sound Colour’ series, which seeks to explore a great deal of tonal variety and one which illustrates a wide range of instrumental and vocal music from the pen of this prolific composer – Ian Higginson.
‘Organ Sound Colours’ volume 1 is a collection of versatile pieces written in different styles, moods and tempos, (some original and some based on well-known hymn tunes), which are suitable for services and or recitals.
Review – Organists Review (December 2020)
The below review of Organ Sound Colours Volume 1 was featured in Organists Review in December 2020.
There is much that is attractive – catchy even – in this unashamedly tonal music. That Ian Higginson is an organist is obvious since these pieces fit well under the hands and feet, but (caveat emptor!) the standard is largely around grade 7+.
Trumpet Tune sets the standard as in terms of craftsmanship and appeal. Though in G major rather than in the usual D, it is typical of its genre. The central section is in Eb which, while hardly revolutionary, comes as a (not unpleasant) surprise.
Many of the pieces are suitable as final voluntaries; Postlude on ’40 Days & forty Night’s’, Processional, Postlude on ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’, Improvisation, and Postlude on ‘Thine be the Glory’. They are characterised by vigorous rhythms, effective contrasts and a colourful harmonic vocabulary with an abundance of diatonic dissonances (7ths, 9ths) and occasional false relations. Each final chord includes a 6th or 9th in the manuals and a quint in the pedals.
I suspect Dr Higginson’s compositional process may involve improvisation and therefore the title of the improvisation seems ironic given the un-improvisatory nature of this rather grand march.
The quieter pieces (Prelude on ‘There is a green Hill)’, Prelude on ‘Drop, drop slow tears’) are easier than the louder numbers and could prove useful before a service.
The two remaining compositions. Dance on B.A.C.H. And Scherzo, are perhaps better suited to concert use. They are tricky little devils!
I am glad to have made the acquaintance of this music and look forward to seeing what the future volumes contain.
More about Ian Higginson
Ian Higginson (b. 1959) was born on the Wirral Merseyside, England and moved to Gloucestershire in 1983.
His tutors have included Melville Cook, David Willcocks, Jonathan Delmar, David Saint, Ian Tracey, and John Scott. Ian holds a number of fellowship diplomas from various music establishments, plus a doctorate in composition.
His positions have included University Organist & Director of Music for the University of Gloucestershire, School Organist & tutor in organ & piano for St. Edward’s School Cheltenham, Organist and Assistant Director of Music for the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and Tutor in Piano at Sir William Romney School, Tetbury and conductor to Jubilate Chamber Choir, Cheltenham and Cirencester Philharmonia.
Ian is active as an organist, conductor, accompanist, examiner and music teacher. He is also in much demand as a composer and has written numerous choral, organ and instrumental works that have been widely performed & published in the UK and the USA.
Ian has composed many commissioned pieces for cathedral and church choirs, school choirs, youth choirs and choral societies throughout the UK and he is always delighted to accept commissions from either individuals or musical organisations.
Ian always tailors his commissioned compositions regarding style, length and ability to suit the individuals or choirs needs to bring out the very best in performances.
A second sound colours book
Ian has now published a second sound colours book – Piano Sound Colours which includes a collection of ten diverse pieces in different styles ranging from about grade 4 – grade 7/8.
This book is aimed at pianists, piano teachers and students and Ian hopes that it may become useful repertoire in the future.
International Piano are doing a feature on it in Jan/Feb 2021 and incorporating one of the pieces in the magazine, plus The pianist and EPTA are also doing a review, both in the early new year. We will look to add some more information from these interviews in due course.