Thursday 2nd April - Maundy Thursday
Prelude: Le banquet céleste – Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Communion: Ave verum corpus – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Messiaen's depiction of the 'heavenly banquet' was written in 1928. Note the staccato (short) notes in the pedals which are marked to be played 'like waterdrops'.
Mozart's setting of 'Ave verum corpus' was written 17 June 1791 for Anton Stoll, who was musical co-ordinator in the parish of Baden near Vienna. It was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.
Friday 3rd April - Good Friday
Prelude: Chorale Prelude on 'Rockingham' – Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
Postlude: Erbarm' dich mein, O Herre Gott (BWV 721) – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Parry's setting of 'When I survey' was published as the second of a set of 'Seven Chorale Preludes' in 1912.
Bach's prelude on a metrical version of Psalm 51 is influenced by a cantata once thought to be by Buxtehude, but actually written by Buxtehude's Estonian pupil Ludwig Busbetzky.
Saturday 4th April - Easter Eve
Postlude: Hallelujah Chorus ('Messiah') – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
This piece surely needs no programme notes! Join in as you are able!
Sunday 5th April - Easter Day
Prelude: Easter Morn: A Meditation – John Ebenezer West (1863-1928)
Introit (Choir): This joyful Eastertide – arr. Charles Wood (1866-1926)
Communion: I know that my Redeemer liveth ('Messiah') – George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Postlude (Choir): Sing! - David Willcocks (accompanied by Toccata from Fifth Symphony – Charles-Marie Widor)
West, a nephew of Ebenezer Prout, was a London organist and chief editor for Novello & Co., where he worked for 45 years.
Wood, an Irishman, was Professor of Music at Cambridge University. His pupils included Ralph Vaughan Williams at Cambridge and Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music.
Willcocks' 'Sing!' was written in 1999 as a choral accompaniment to Widor's famous Toccata. Widor himself sanctioned the addition of a choir to this piece.
Sunday 12th April - The Second Sunday of Easter
Prelude: Psalm-Prelude (Set 1 no.2) – Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Communion: Berceuse – Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Postlude: Saraband for the morning of Easter – Herbert Howells
Howells' Psalm-Preludes are meditations on verses from the Psalms. This one is based on Psalm 37 v.11, and dates from 1916.
Vierne's Berceuse is a lullaby dedicated to his daughter Colette.
Howells' Saraband is one of a set of 'Six Pieces for Organ' dating from the 1940s.
Sunday 19th April - The Third Sunday of Easter
Prelude: Serenade for Strings (slow movement) – Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Communion: Andantino in F (Suite for Organ) – Edward Elgar
Postlude: Sonata in G (first movement) – Edward Elgar
The Serenade for Strings was written in March 1892 and dedicated to the organ builder and keen amateur musician Edward W. Whinfield.
The Suite for Organ was originally composed as a set of Vesper Voluntaries in 1890. The eleven voluntaries were composed in quick succession immediately after his marriage to Alice in 1889.
Elgar's Sonata was written in 1895 as a large organ work that would show off the Cathedral organ at Worcester. Amazingly, the work took only two weeks from conception to the first performance, which Hugh Blair, the cathedral organist, gave to an American Organists' convention meeting in Worcester.
Sunday 26th April - The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Music for Good Shepherd Sunday
Prelude: A Meditation on 'Brother James' Air – Harold Darke (1888-1976)
Communion: Pastorale in F (BWV 590, first movement) – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude: Worthy is the Lamb ('Messiah') – George Frideric Handel
'Brother James' was the popular name for James Leith Macbeth Bain who died in 1925. This well-known tune was composed by him for the Scottish metrical version of Psalm 23. This organ meditation was written in October 1947.
'Worthy is the Lamb' is followed by a magnificent 'Amen' fugue which concludes Handel's oratorio.
Sunday 3rd May - The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Music from Russia and Uzbekistan
Prelude: Chorale Varié – Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915)
Communion: Chant sans paroles (Souvenir de Hapsal) – Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Postlude: Toccata – Georgi Mushel (1909-1989)
Taneyev's variations were written in 1913 for inclusion in an album edited by the Abbé Joubert, and are a rare example of pre-revolutionary Russian organ music.
Tchaikovsky visited Haapsalu, Estonia, in 1867, where he composed the cycle of piano pieces 'Souvenir de Hapsal'.
Mushel studied at the Moscow Conservatoire. On graduating, Mushel taught at the Tashkent Conservatoire, becoming Professor of Composition in 1976. He was influenced by local Uzbek traditional music.
Sunday 10th May - The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Music from Italy
Prelude: Agnus Dei (Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem) – arr. Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Communion: Intermezzo ('Cavalleria Rusticana') – Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)
Postlude: Etude symphonique – Marco Enrico Bossi (1861-1925)
Verdi's Requiem (sometimes called 'Verdi's best opera') was first performed in Milan Cathedral in 1874. Liszt's transcription of the Agnus Dei dates from 1877.
Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) is a one act opera premiered in 1890 in Rome. The Intermezzo, which has featured in a number of film scores, contains the theme of the Easter Hymn.
Bossi was director of music and organist at Como Cathedral, and did much to increase the standard of Italian church music. His 'symphonic study' is famous for its challenging pedal part.
Thursday 14th May - Ascension Day
Music from France
Prelude: Prière du Christ montant vers son Père – Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Communion: Communion – Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Postlude: March on a theme of Handel – Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Messiaen's 'L'Ascension' was originally composed for orchestra in 1932-33. He re-arranged it for organ in 1933-34. The 'Prayer of Christ ascending towards his Father' is the final movement.
Gounod's Communion is one of three surviving organ pieces composed by him.
The 'Theme of Handel' in Guilmant's march is, of course, the Ascensiontide chorus 'Lift up your heads' from 'Messiah'.
Sunday 17th May - The Seventh Sunday of Easter
Music for Norway's national day (Syttende mai)
Prelude: Morning Mood (Peer Gynt) – Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Communion: At Rondane - Edvard Grieg
Postlude: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen - Edvard Grieg
Constitution Day, more commonly known as 'Syttende mai' (17th May), commemorates the signing of the Constitution of Norway at Eidsvoll on 17th May 1814. Grieg, although considered a Norwegian composer, had Scottish roots. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Grieg's great-grandfather, Alexander Greig, travelled widely, settling in Norway about 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen. 'Wedding Day at Troldhaugen' was written in 1896 to commemorate the 25th wedding anniversary of Grieg and his wife Nina. Troldhaugen ('Troll Hill') was the Grieg family home in Bergen built in 1885, and now a museum.
Prelude: Prelude to the Te Deum – Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1634-1704)
Communion: Nun bitten wir den heilgen Geist – Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Postlude: Prelude and Fugue on BACH – Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Charpentier's prelude, dating from between 1688 and 1698, is nowadays better-known as the Eurovision signature tune.
Liszt's fantasy on the notes BACH (B flat, A, C, B natural), exists in two versions written in 1856 and 1870. This is the second of the two.
Sunday 31st May - Trinity Sunday
Prelude: Prelude in E flat (BWV 552) – Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Communion: Trio Sonata no.3 (slow movement) - Johann Sebastian Bach
Postlude: Fugue in E flat (BWV 552) - Johann Sebastian Bach
The final piece of Part Three of Bach’s publication 'Clavierübung' (Keyboard Practice) has a subject which resembles William Croft’s hymn tune 'St. Anne', hence the English nickname for this piece. It has Trinitarian symbolism on many levels: three flats in the key signature, three sections, the lengths of which are related to each other by a factor of three, three different time signatures related to each other by a factor of three, and three fugal subjects which combine perfectly with each other - three in one! This fugue has been described as probably the most perfect depiction of the Trinity in all of Western Art.