In 2018 we’ve added six more videos to our organ music library. These new choral organ accompaniment tutorial videos focus on works suitable for choir and organ. Combined with our Hymn of the Month posts, we now have 24 well known tunes in our library of organ music, for you to refer to for organ playing and registration tips.
Choral Music with Organ Accompaniment
For this tutorial series we’re concentrating on the organ as a means of choral accompaniment. Accompanying a choir requires that the organ supports boldly in some places but recedes at many other times to allow the vocal parts to come through. The organ is also heard in solo role, joining choral sections together or providing an introduction that sets the tone for what is to follow.
In this series, church choral music was chosen to illustrate the accompaniment of various parts of the liturgy and to highlight some well-known anthems. Many of the pieces will be within the range of typical church choirs. Listening to these performances, you can hear how well just four professional singers bring these pieces alive.
Overview of Choral Organ Accompaniment Series
The programme for this choir and organ tutorial series has been developed by our colleagues Francis Rumsey and Jonathan Kingston. You may have seen Francis presenting the videos on our range of ‘Physis’organs. Francis is equally talented behind the camera, masterminding the schedule, as he is in front of it in his presenter role.
Jonathan’s skills as a professional organist enabled him to quickly plan a registration scheme for the music you will hear in this series. He also accompanies the works faultlessly during a tight recording schedule.
Some of the works we used, all listed below, have seasonal significance, while others are appropriate any time in the church calendar:
- The first release in this organ accompaniment tutorial series is the rousing favourite, “O Thou the Central Orb” by Charles Wood.
- Our second video is T. Tertius Noble’s Magnificat in B minor. This setting of the Magnificat calls for many changes of organ registration and colour as the choral parts are varied and contrasting.
- Number three is a delightful pair of movements from Haydn’s Mass Sancti Joannis de Deo, often known as his “Little Organ Mass”, written sometime between 1775 and 1778.
- Our fourth release is a setting of Psalm 20, to an Anglican chant by Gerald Knight. This delightful chant in A flat major lends itself to a range of possibilities in the organ accompaniment.
- The fifth video is the delightful anthem “Thou visitest the earth” by Maurice Greene. The organ accompaniment will typically be in a rather simple continuo style depending on the voicing of the organ in question.
- Our final video is Sussex Carol which speaks “Christmas” from its first notes. In terms of choir organ accompaniment, it calls for bright and balanced organ tone spread over at least two manuals.
Introducing the Choir and Singers
Our singers are Emily Armour – Soprano, Elspeth Marrow – Alto, Joseph Thompson – Tenor and Jack Lawrence-Jones – Bass.
Emily Armour is a post-graduate scholar of Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Having done a French and Czech degree, she decided singing was more fun and has been pursuing it ever since. Career highlights include singing as a soloist at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, touring with The Monteverdi Choir, being a choral scholar at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, crooning with a jazz band in Bordeaux and singing Christmas carols to Her Majesty’s horses at Buckingham Palace.
Elspeth Marrow is a mezzo soprano from London who graduated with a Masters degree from the Royal College of Music in 2017. In 2012 she graduated from Royal Holloway, where she was awarded the Driver Prize for Excellence in Performance and the Dame Felicity Lott Bursary.
Joseph Thompson, tenor, is a Masters graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. Joseph has sung as a soloist around the country and internationally with groups including Croydon Bach Choir, Sonoro, the Sweelinck Ensemble, Armonico Consort, Oxford Bach Choir, Southend Festival Chorus, Opera Barcarola, Caminetto Voices, Enfield Choral Society, and the resident choirs of the National Portrait Gallery, the New West End Synagogue, and the Guards Chapel London.
Jack Lawrence-Jones baritone, is a graduate of the Masters programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He recently made his Aldeburgh Festival debut, as a Britten-Pears Young Artist Alumnus. Operatic roles to date include Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Jack created the title role in Clive, a new opera by Ben Ashby (Gestalt Arts), and played Thomas Bowdler in the UK premiere of Alex Paxton’s The Equivocal Harriet Bowdler.
We do hope you enjoy this insight into the organ in a very different role from hymn accompaniment. Here the organ takes a subsidiary role to the vocal parts that are rightly the stars of these performances. But I am sure you will agree that Jonathan Kingston plays his parts brilliantly as well.
A Beautiful Church to Record the Choir and Organ
St Mary’s, Chalgrove, is a beautiful medieval church stunningly restored in 2015. Music will, no doubt, have long been an important part of the worship in what was a very wealthy parish.
As our small choir sang the Greene anthem dating from the mid-1700s, I could not help but think that it must have been sung here many times before.
It was a very moving experience to have this church for our private use on this bright, sunny October morning, where we were treated to some wonderful music by this small group of very talented musicians.
About the Organist – Jonathan Kingston
Jonathan was an organ student while studying with Ian Tracey and Ian Wells at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral before being appointed Sub Organist at Bradford Cathedral, aged 18. Assistant Director and Director of Music appointments followed at Stowe and Bromsgrove Schools before an appointment to The King’s School in Ely where he served Ely Cathedral as a deputy organist.
Jonathan is a recording artist for Naxos, Priory and EMI Records and is an ABRSM examiner and coordinator touring the UK and internationally. As an organist, he has appeared with many leading orchestras and choirs including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Halle, London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and English Symphony Orchestra as well as featuring in many live broadcasts on BBC radio and television.
He is the newly appointed Director of Music at Stony Stratford Parish Church where he presides over the magnificent Willis pipe organ.
Jonathan’s Work with Viscount
Jonathan’s work with Viscount Classical Organs encompasses performing and presenting promotional and tutorial material for the company and his freelance portfolio covers educational outreach, teaching, performing, examining and musical direction. He covers several areas for Viscount from sales, demonstrations, voicing of instruments and performing.
His playing features on the current promotional DVD material for Viscount, and he would be very pleased to hear from any churches or individuals requiring an engaging and lively recitalist. If you would like to connect with Jonathan directly, please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@jonkingston) or by email on email@example.com.
About the Organ used to Accompany the Choir
Jonathan plays this piece on an instrument based on our Envoy 23-S. A ‘Physical Modelling’ based instrument with 23 stops in a real wood veneer cabinet. It has a huge internal library allowing the user to create 4 totally individual voice palettes from classic English through Baroque and Romantic.
It benefits from a full complement of divisional thumb pistons and additional toe pistons. The standard 23-S organ has a 30-note pedal board, while the instrument in the film has a 32-note board. For more information have a look at the specifications here.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.