We continue the 2018 tutorial series where we’re concentrating on the organ as a means of choral accompaniment. 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. Jonathan Kingston plays the organ and is accompanied by four professional singers — Emily Armour, Elspeth Marrow, Joseph Thompson and Jack Lawrence-Jones. You can find out more about the singers, the series and the recording sessions involved in our earlier “Behind the Scenes” blog post.
Magnificat in B minor – T. Tertius Noble
Our second release for 2018 is Noble’s Magnificat in B minor. Born in 1867, the excellently named Thomas Tertius Noble is probably best known for his position of organist at St Thomas’ Church on 5th Avenue in New York, where he remained for some 35 years until 1947. Prior to that he had been Stanford’s assistant at Trinity College, Cambridge, and had held posts at Ely Cathedral and York Minster.
At St Thomas’s Noble was instrumental in designing and installing the original 1913 Skinner organ, the church having been rebuilt in 1912, and he set up a choir school there in 1918. This created the foundations for the Anglican choral tradition that still holds sway today. As many will know, the famous Skinner organ, much revised and rebuilt over the century that followed, is finally being replaced by a new instrument from Dobson. The new organ retains the 1913 case.
Noble’s Evening Service in B minor, written in 1898, is widely sung and was dedicated to Sir George Martin (not the Beatles producer, but a former organist of St Paul’s Cathedral). The organ has a relatively simple accompaniment with little opportunity for independent flair, but there is the chance for a wide range of registration variation. The central section in particular, “He remembering his mercy”, allows an opportunity for ethereal sounds to support the quiet choral writing.
Advice on playing the tune
As Jonathan Kingston explains in his introduction, this setting of the Magnificat calls for many changes of registration and colour as the choral parts are varied and contrasting. Consider using lighter flute or diapason tone which is under expression for accompanying single choral textures, and coming back onto bolder choruses to support full four-part textures.
Depending on the voicing of your instrument, consider using the Great to four foot Principal only, as higher unenclosed harmonics can sometimes overwhelm, unless you’re playing for a large choir.
Watch the video
This is played on a custom built Envoy 23-S, which is a very popular church instrument.
About Jonathan Kingston’s Musical Background
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Digital Organ Being Played
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 pallets 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.