Concert on 14th October 2024

Simon Lawford (L’Église Notre Dame, London)

Norman Cocker: Tuba Tune
Percy Whitlock: Scherzetto (from Organ Sonata in C minor)
Marcel Dupré: Prelude & Fugue in G minor
Eugène Gigout: Scherzo
Gigout: Toccata
Léon Boëllmann: Suite Gothique
(1. Introduction – Choral 2. Menuet gothique 3. Prière à Notre-Dame 4. Toccata)

Simon Lawford

Simon Lawford begins with the music of two versatile English organists who comfortably bridged the gap between the cathedral and the cinema, Norman Cocker in Manchester with his famous (or notorious!) Tuba Tune, written for the loudest stop at Manchester Cathedral but surely sounding equally at home in the Gaumont cinema nearby.   Similarly Whitlock’s career took him from Rochester Cathedral to the Bournemouth Pavilion.   His organ sonata is even longer than Elgar’s and in its course manages to evoke Elgar, Delius and Rachmaninov, but its lighthearted Scherzetto is just the thing for an interlude at the Pavilion.

Simon Lawford has worked in Versailles and is now titulaire at the French church in Leicester Square so it is appropriate that the rest of his programme pays homage to three great French composers.   Dupré’s Prelude and Fugue in G minor is a virtuoso piece whose first part is entirely quiet, exploring in no small measure the quieter stops;  by contrast the fugue is loud and bouncy!   Gigout’s delightful Scherzo is followed by his energetic Toccata, and to finish Boëllmann’s evergreen Suite Gothique with its sonorous start, its elephantine minuet, its beautiful slow movement and a final Toccata which has been likened to a Keystone Kops car chase.

The concert runs from 1.10pm to 1.55pm. Admission £5 at the door. Feel free to bring your own lunch.

Online booking

Simon Lawford received his early musical training as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, and was organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, under Dr Bernard Rose. He was Assistant Organist at Peterborough Cathedral and Christ Church, Oxford.

After working at the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, he was appointed Director of Music at Hampstead Parish Church. From 1994 to 2007 he held the position of Organist and Director of Music at St George’s Cathedral, Perth, during which time this choir acquired an international reputation. He also founded George’s Baroque Consort, specialising in the authentic performance of early music including the first period instruments performances in Australia of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St John Passion.

He has twice performed the complete ‘48’ Preludes and Fugues of J. S. Bach and appeared as soloist with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. In 2010 he returned to England to take up the temporary post of Assistant Organist at Chichester Cathedral, followed by similar roles at Canterbury Cathedral, Magdalen College, Christ Church, Oxford, Chelmsford and Peterborough Cathedrals. In 2022 he was appointed organiste titulaire of the Église Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square, London.

In 2008 he fulfilled a lifelong ambition by performing briefly with the legendary Dutch prog rock band ‘Focus’ in St David’s Hall, Cardiff.