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St Matthew’s ORGAN 125 Events - 20 September to 4 October
Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the 1895 J.W. Walker organ.
 

After 189 days of not being able to sing together, we hope to once again fill our wonderful church with choral music on Sunday 20 September during the Parish Mass. The safety of our choir family and the congregation is paramount and we have a robust plan in the works to ensure that we are able to comply with current guidance. Things will inevitably look and sound different for a while but the choir is eager to get back to work.

During the summer term the choristers were as busy as ever honing their musical skills. Every week 14 music lessons took place online, with nine choristers learning the piano, three learning the recorder, and most having had singing lessons with our singing tutor, Rhonda Browne. Although we weren't able to sing together it was a hugely beneficial time for building musicianship. The choristers are grateful to the Friends of St Matthew’s Music for their support in enabling learning to continue.

We'll be kicking off the academic year with a series featuring our J.W. Walker organ which turns '125' on St Matthew's Day. To mark the occasion we have commissioned a special piece, A Little Organ Mass of the Angels, by former chorister and distinguished composer, Robert Walker. Details are below.

We would love for you to join us for any of our services and events - but please remember HANDS, FACE, and SPACE so that we can all be together safely. The maximum seating capacity, observing two metre physical distancing, is 70. The services below are public acts of worship, open to all, and it is extremely difficult in the present circumstances to anticipate the number of those wanting to attend, so please arrive early and we will try to accommodate as many people as safely as possible.
 

If you're unable to join us in person, we intend to livestream the services and events detailed below; they can be viewed on the parish website or the parish Facebook page. On Facebook, the streams will appear on the parish's page, and not the choir page, so be sure to 'follow' the parish page if you haven't already.

 

 

Organ Evensong

Sunday 20th September at 5:30pm
James Anderson-Besant
[St John's College, Cambridge]

To kick off 'ORGAN 125' we're delighted to be holding our first-ever 'Organ Evensong.' During this special liturgical service the organ will act as the choir, playing the psalm and canticles, along with movements of Vierne's rousing Third Symphony.
 

 

 

Voluntaries
Adagio and Final from 3rd Symphony for organ, op 28
Louis Vierne (1870-1934)

Psalm
Psalm Prelude, set 1 no 2, op 32 Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

Magnificat
Magnificat from Fifteen Pieces for Organ, Founded on Antiphons, op 18
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)

Nunc dimittis
Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf, BWV 617
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

 

 
The 2020 St Matthew's Day Commission
 

2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the installation of our iconic Walker organ. A gift of Mrs Mary Ann Phipps, the widow of Pickering Phipps Sr, it was unveiled at the Patronal Festival in 1895. With 4 manuals and nearly 3,000 pipes, it is unusually large for a parish church organ, and its beautiful voicing is known throughout the country. We had plans to mark this anniversary; The IAO’s Midlands Organ Day was due to take place at St Matthew’s this month, and a recital series was scheduled for this past summer term. However, all is not lost as we have commissioned a very special piece for this year’s Patronal Festival. The majority of the funds for this endeavour have come from the Walter Hussey Music Bequest, which endowment was given to the parish specifically for the purpose of commissioning new music for St Matthew’s Day. Additional funds have been provided by the Friends.

This year’s commission, A Little Organ Mass of the Angels, is based on the Missa de Angelis. Some of you who have been around long enough will be familiar with this famous plainsong setting. World-renowned composer and former St Matthew’s chorister, Robert Walker, has designed a mass which can be sung by a cantor alone, or a socially-distanced choir, depending on the resources available based on current guidelines. As with 17th century French ‘organ masses,’ the organ plays a significant part, alternating with the singers in sometimes virtuosic flourishes reflecting the text and melody. It is our intention to premiere this exciting and versatile work on St Matthew’s Day - Monday 21st September at 7:30pm in a service which will also be broadcast on the parish's Facebook page and website.

In the 1940s, Walter Hussey made a very bold statement, when during the height of a world war, he installed Henry Moore's Madonna and Child, and commissioned Benjamin Britten to write what would become one of the most important contributions to choral literature in the 20th century. In the midst of a global pandemic, we too are facing troubling times, and the world is crying out for beauty and comfort. It is our sincere hope that this year’s St Matthew’s Day commission might be used by churches all over world for the glory of God.

 

 

The Ron Gates Recital

Sunday 4th October at 6:15pm
(following Choral Evensong at 5:30pm)
Justin Miller
[St Matthew's Church, Northampton]

After a bit of a hiatus we are glad to once again present a St Matthew's-tide recital in honour of long-time St Matthew's assistant organist, Ron Gates, who died in 2016. We were very saddened when his beloved wife, Mary passed away in March; her funeral was held in St Matthew's just before lockdown.

Our own director of music, Justin Miller, will be giving this recital. He'll be playing a second performance of The Little Organ Mass of the Angels, along with works by Elgar, Duruflé, Widor, and three new pieces from The Orgelbüchlein Project. A retiring collection will be taken for the Friends of St Matthew's Music.
 

 
 
 

The 2020 St Matthew’s Day Commission

 

Director of Music, Justin Miller, talks about the 2020 St Matthew’s Day Commission.
 

 

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