PHI CD 173: The Grand Orchestral Organ John Scott Whiteley York Minster
Transcriptions for Organ
Gioachino Rossini: Overture to La Gazza Ladra. (The Thieving Magpie). Arr. John Scott Whiteley.
Sergey Rachmaninoff: Vocalise. Arr. John Scott Whiteley.
Richard Wagner: Overture to Die Meistersinger. (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg). Arr. John Scott Whiteley.
Claude Debussy: Prélude: La Damoiselle élue. arr. Gaston Choisnel.
J. S. Bach: Adagio & fugue in C minor. (Sinfonia: Cantata 21).
(Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis). Arr. John Scott Whiteley.
Frédéric Chopin: Etude in E major, Opus 10, No. 3. Arr. John Scott Whiteley.
Claude Debussy: Andante du Quatuor. Arr. Alexandre Guilmant.
J. S. Bach: Sinfonia (Cantata 29) (Wir danken dir, Gott). Arr. Marcel Dupré.
Richard Wagner: Transformation Scene from Parsifal. Arr. George Bennett & John Scott Whiteley.
JOHN SCOTT WHITELEY won first prize in the 1976 National Organ Competition of Great Britain, after which he performed extensively as a solo recitalist, playing in most of the major British cathedrals and concert halls. In 1983 he made his début at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in the formerly well-known 5.55 series of recitals, and he has twice been selected to give the major recital for the UK Annual Conference of the Incorporated Association of Organists. He has also played in concert series and festivals in Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. The most recent of these were the 1998 Musicometa Festival in Rome, and the 1998 Brussels International Organ Week (Semaine d'orgue Internationale). Between September and November 2000 he gave a performance of the complete organ works of J. S. Bach in York Minster, and he is currently engaged on a project to record all of Bach's organ music.
In 1985 Mr. Whiteley undertook his first tour of North America, which included appearances at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, and Salt Lake City's Mormon Tabernacle. He now visits the U.S.A. every year and is represented by the highly respected agency, Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. In 1988 he toured Australia, also.
He studied at the University of London, and at the Royal College of Music with Ralph Downes and W. S. Lloyd Webber. After prizes in the Fellowship examination of the Royal College of Organists, he was subsequently awarded scholarships to study with Maestro Fernando Germani in Siena and Professor Flor Peeters in Malines. More recently he has been elected a member of the Council of the Royal College of Organists.
His interpretations have received much acclaim, and his interest lies with the French Romantics, in particular the Belgian composer, Joseph Jongen. Jongen is the subject of a book he has written, published by Pendragon Press of New York. This was described as a benchmark against which similar studies must be measured, and invitations followed to give organ master classes on the music of both Franck and Jongen. He has contributed articles to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and he has written articles for several music magazines. He has also appeared as a lecturer and organ demonstrator for the Incorporated Association of Organists.
As a composer he has written organ music, anthems and church music, as well as several instrumental pieces. Some of these, including one of his most recent organ works, Fantasia espansiva (written for Dr. Francis Jackson's 80th birthday), have been broadcast on BBC Radio Three. He is an editor for Oxford University Press and Banks, and one of his editions recently received the award of a US editors' competition, the Don Malin Award. He has also assisted with organ design projects from time to time. These include the 1992/4 rebuild of the organ of York Minster.
Since 1976 his post as Organist of York Minster has entailed his playing for at least one service there every day, and since 1978 he has served as Professor of Organ at the University of Hull. His CD, Great Romantic Organ Music, appeared for eight years in the Penguin Good CD Guide as one of the best recorded organ recitals. He has now made over twenty solo organ recordings, some of which have received a number of accolades in The Gramophone. His recording of the complete organ works of Joseph Jongen won a 1993 Critic's Choice Award, and his recording at St-Ouen, Rouen, of the newly discovered organ symphony by the former organist of Notre-Dame de Paris, Pierre Cochereau, was released in 1999 in commemoration of the centenary of the death of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. More recently he has joined the team of transcribers of Cochereau's improvisations, engaged by the Belgian publisher, Chantraine.
Mr. Whiteley has been broadcast many times by the B.B.C., the Australian Broadcasting Commission, West German Radio and the American Public Radio Network on the esteemed nationwide programme, Pipedreams, which transmitted a complete programme of his playing in 1999.
The Organ of York Minster
It is virtually certain that the organ in York Minster by Robert Dallam (1634) survived beyond the Restoration and into the eighteenth century. Some of it may even have been used in the rebuilds by Green and Blyth (1803) and Ward (1823). Nothing of these organs survived the fire of 1829, however, and a new instrument by Elliott and Hill had been completed by 1834. The extraordinary design of this new organ, which was said to have been wasteful and ineffective, involved the duplication of many stops of 16, 8 and 4-foot pitch. As a result frequent alterations were carried out during the years that followed. Ward of York attempted improvements in 1837, and Forster and Andrews were engaged to effect various modifications in 1850, but it was E.G. Monk, Organist of the Minster from 1859 to 1883, who really solved the problems. Monk chose William Hill for the rebuild of 1863, and what had been a gargantuan monstrosity was then replaced with an organ of balanced musical character. Much of this had became unserviceable by 1903, however, the year when J.W. Walker & Son began an extensive rebuild. This organ furnished the core of the instrument throughout the twentieth century, but it's comparatively feeble effect in the Nave caused Sir Edward Bairstow to seek more powerful voices on the West - facing side of the case. Harrison & Harrison added the Tuba Mirabilis stop between 1916 and 1917, and provided a much stronger Great division in their rebuild of 1928-30. In seeking further tonal adjustments Francis Jackson reverted to J.W. Walker & Sons for the rebuild of 1959-60. It was the 1863 Hill organ, however, that led to some of the alterations made by Geoffrey Coffin in the most recent rebuild of 1993. The other alterations by Geoffrey Coffin included the addition of the Bombarde en chamade, pointing into the Choir, the solo Céleste, and a Great Sesquialtera and Cornet. The mixtures were remodelled and a new pedal chorus on its own soundboard within the screen, now integrates with the rest of the organ. The result is an organ more versatile and brighter than before, more cohesive and eclectic, and yet one that retains the essential qualities of the Walker instrument of 1904.
© John Scott Whiteley, 2001