Organ Recital by Ian Tracey
Organist and Master of the Choristers, Liverpool Cathedral
17 September, 2003
SWOPS (St. Wilfrid's Organ Preservation Scheme) definitely ‘pulled out all the stops’ to arrange a very special celebration of the refurbishment and enlargement of our Hele organ with a concert by world famous organist Ian Tracey.
It must have been very heartening for all the hardworking members of the SWOPS team, headed by Cliff Stevenson, as it was for the packed audience, to hear our instrument ‘sing’ in all its new found glory with a programme from Handel to Widor and interpretations, one by Ian himself, along the way.
On our behalf, Clifford thanked Ian for a wonderful evening and also went on to thank special guests John Mann and Basil Tschaikov for their much appreciated help in the past with fund-raising contributions and most memorable performances. SWOPS continues to plan for the future - ENCORE! ENCORE!
PROFESSOR IAN TRACEYhas had a life-long association with Liverpool Cathedral and its music, and with his two illustrious predecessors, continues the tradition of an almost apostolic succession. He studied organ with his immediate precursor Noel Rawsthorne, at St. Katharine’s College Liverpool. Further studies at Trinity College, London, culminated in Fellowship, after which, scholarship grants enabled him to continue his studies in Paris, with both Andre Isoir and Jean Langlais.
In 1980 he became the youngest Cathedral Organist in the Country, and was subsequently appointed to his present position of Organist & Master of the Choristers two years later. In the intervening years, ie has played most of the major venues in this country, and an increasing number in Europe. Very much in demand in the U.S.A., he has made twenty extensive tours, playing in all the major Cities and in 1999 & 2003 undertook major tours of Southern Australia, recitaling, examining and teaching. He returns to both USA and Notre Dame, Paris in 2003, and to the Bermuda Festival in February 2004, and to Australia in 2005.
On the wider musical canvas, he is a frequent broadcaster with the B.B.C. and a regular soloist at the Proms. His recordings on the Cathedral Organ have met with wide acclaim from the critics and he is a signed E.M.I and CHANDOS artist. He holds Fellowships from 15 prestigious musical institutions both here and abroad, including the Royal College of Organists, as one of only one of 20 Honorary Fellows, worldwide. He regularly examines and adjudicates and conducts the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
His other posts include, Organist to the City of Liverpool, at St. George’s Hall; Chorus Master to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society; Guest Director of Music for the BBC Daily Service, Professor, Fellow and Organist at Liverpool, John Moores University and immediate past president of the Incorporated Association of Organists of Great Britain.
Overture ‘The Occasional Oratorio’ - G.F.Handel/W.T.Best
Adagio in G minor - Thomaso Albinoni
Rondeau, Bouree, Menuet,Badinerie (Suite no.2) - J.S.Bach/Tracey
Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor (BWV 582) - J.S.Bach
Four Sketches for Pedal Piano - Robert Schumann
Scherzo in G minor - M.E. Bossi
Suite Modale (Koraal. Scherzo, Adagio, Toccata) - Flor Peters
Psalm Prelude Set 1 no.3 - Herbert Howells
Scherzo ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ - F. Mendelssohn/Tracey
Allegro (Sinfonie VI) Charles Marie - Widor
Inaugural Organ Recital
Scintillating Performance -Breathtaking - Full Marks - Wow! What Artistry any one of these newspaper headlines commonly used to sum up Football matches, Concerts, Theatre, Tennis, Golf Tournaments or whatever, is more than just appropriate to describe the quite stunning and entertaining recital given by Ian Tracey to inaugurate the restoration and completion of the Organ in St. Wilfrid's which, like the church itself , is fast approaching its centenary. We were lucky indeed that Professor Tracey, who is the Organist and Master of the Music at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, was able to find a "slot" in his very full Cathedral and world wide recitalist's time-table to drive down to Bognor to entertain us all in the way he did with a programme that was entertaining, varied, instructional and breathtakingly brilliant in execution. I am quite sure that some who, maybe, came to support out of "a sense of duty", rather than an over-riding devotion to the organ and its music, were partially, if not totally converted by the amazingly brilliant playing and varied programme that we were given.
We are blessed at St. Wilfrid's With superb, meticulous and musicianly playing every Sunday but Rex, I believe , would be the first to admit that Ian Tracey found sounds in his choice of stops that had not been tried before!
Ian, with many an anecdote, introduced each half of his programme which ranged from Bach's magisterial Passacaglia to a witty and very convincing version of the Scherzo from Mendellsohn's Midsummer Night's Dream" music.
It was, for me, personally, a great joy to meet again with Ian whom I first met was some 30 years ago when he was a student to St. Katharine's College in Liverpool. He was already a fine player when he came to us and, after studies at the College with the then Cathedral Organist (Noel Rawsthorne) Ian, among other things like taking lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan, gave his first performance (with Full Orchestra) of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony! We were lucky, then, to persuade him to come to us in Bognor, enjoy himself as he patently did, give our restored organ an ''A" grade mark and cheerfully drive from and back to Liverpool --- all in a span of 18 hours!
Behind all this, however, we must never forget the determination that was Cliff Stevens' to set up a "preservation" scheme for the Organ. Having heard what we did during the recital, and to echo Fr. Roger's comment, there really is no substitute, for "the real thing", no matter how good an electronic instrument can be, Prof. Tracey certainly proved the point!
Finally, and very far from least, we must not forget the tremendous amount of planning and secretarial work done by Helen, not only as the secretary of the SWOPS Committee, likewise Angela as treasurer deserves our thanks. Both of them, with Rex and others who helped organise and serve the drinks and nibbles in the Hall, thus rounding off a momentous and happy evening, merit our warmest thanks.
P.S. Shall we try and get Ian Tracey to come again in a few years time?
Dr. Geoffrey Barnard