My Philosophy of Mistakes


For a start, playing the organ is not like Mathematics or Banking, there is no 'correct answer'; in fact merely playing all the right notes in the right order often does not create Music at all. There are players I admire for every reason except (sadly) how their music-making actually sounds or rather 'feels'! The shocking truth is: listen to enough of my work and you will occasionally hear slight imperfections in it! My excuses: I am not young, fresh, particularly intelligent or fanatically hard-working. When it comes to playing of works that require an almost gymnastic skill, I've never been physically fit in my life!  When recording (particularly on a strange organ) stamina can run short and the pulse can race.


What I do have to offer is complete dedication to the pipe organ and its music, finding things to like in even apparently poor instruments. I'm brimming with enthusiasm for some of the finest music ever written but also for apparently worthless pieces when by inclusion they help to balance a programme. My target in any performance is that each piece will 'come across' as genuinely worth listening to. A CD programme should encompass a wide range of moods, demonstrate all the colours available and give the listener a sense of satisfaction when heard complete as an ideal concert.


So far as choice of instruments is concerned, the pairing up of works and instruments is important to me. I have in my library striking performances of the right music, really well played in technical terms, but on the wrong organs - the equivalent of a Chopin Nocturne being played on a harpsichord. I'm also quite choosy about acoustics, and often find that I prefer something to be recorded quite a bit closer than some other people do. I have in my library, for example, a wonderful recording made by Francis Jackson of the works of Edward Bairstow recorded on Bairstow's own organ at York Minster. In every way this is an authoritative recording, the music being played with high accuracy, understanding and complete devotion. However, it has been recorded so distantly that quite often the actual notes are lost in a swirl of reverberation that I know some people love. By contrast, I dearly wish I could hear everything and I can't.


So, I am content to know that a critical listener may find weaknesses in my efforts. I'm human and though I try pretty hard, I'm far from perfect, I know this perfectly well. I would be much more upset to find that keen listeners come away from my work disappointed that they have not enjoyed the music. I particularly like finding pieces that have been previously overlooked. Most of my CDs contain several items recorded for the first time. If I were a dead composer, I'd love the idea that some day some odd-ball player would turn up a copy of a largely forgotten piece and find it enjoyable, taking the trouble to find the right organ to play it on and who will publish the results for an unseen future public to enjoy.


Happy Listening!