Gala Organ Performance by David Briggs
27 November 2021
“…one of the world’s greatest contemporary organists…” – New York Times
David Briggs will be playing a gala organ performance at Coventry Cathedral on 27 November at 7:30pm to launch the Cathedral’s Organ Restoration Appeal. Known for his unbridled virtuosity and passion for making organ music vibrant and accessible to a wide and diverse audience, David is one of the most sought after concert organists of his generation.
This will be a spectacular evening of music on the Cathedral’s magnificent and world-famous instrument. David Briggs will play music by Bach, Widor, Ravel and Vaughan Williams, as well as an improvisation. There will also be a masterclass free to the public from 3-4:30pm where David will coach three advanced organ students.
The Harrison & Harrison organ is judged to be of outstanding national significance and was awarded a British Institute of Organ Studies Grade I Historic Organs Certificate in 2013. The Cathedral needs to raise the £1 million to restore and safeguard this instrument for generations to come.
Many parts of this fabulous instrument are wearing away or broken due to age and wear. There are broken pipes, cracked sound boards, failing magnets, broken leather and outdated electrical components. In addition to this, the organ – pipes and mechanisms – is covered in decades worth of dust which dulls the sound. It needs a full refurbishment and cleaning. The organ is regularly used for services, concerts and teaching, seeing an average of 26 hours of playing per week, so the wear and tear is only natural.
This is a chance for the people of Coventry and of the whole country to show support for the monumental task of refurbishing this 5000-pipe organ, a national treasure. All proceeds of the concert will go to the Cathedral Organ Restoration Appeal.
Everyone will enjoy this performance, so bring the whole family!
“I first played the magnificent organ here in Coventry in 1977, as a fourteen year old. My Uncle Mike, who had sung in the cathedral choir under David Lepine from 1963, introduced me to the then Organist Robert Weddle, and I remember being completely blown away by the instrument. It still has exactly the same effect on me today! In 1980 I was resident in Coventry for much of the summer, playing for visiting choirs on Sundays and enjoying rehearsing during the week and staying at Kennedy House, the International Visitors Centre, then situated just opposite Bardsley House, in the grounds of the cathedral. There I met a wonderful lady called Madge Nimocks, who was working during a gap year in between graduating from the University of the South at Sewanee, TN and doing further study at Harvard. Back then, she was six years older than me – now we’re the same age. We saw each other probably ten or twelve times, and wrote to each other (snail mail, in those pre-internet days) for about 5 years. We lost contact until 2002, and in June 2004 we married! So I owe a colossal amount to Coventry, on both personal and musical levels. I’m honored to be associated with the impending restoration of this iconic instrument, which is without any doubt one of the most exciting and individual in the country, if not even further afield.” – David Briggs
David Briggs teaches performance at Cambridge University, frequently serves on international organ competition juries, and gives master classes at colleges and conservatories across the U.S. and Europe.
David has held numerous positions in North America and the U.K. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.
The programme will include Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor, a transcription of Vaughan William’s Symphony No. 5 and of course, an improvisation.
Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 (with improvised cadenzas) – J S Bach (1685-1750)
Pavane pour une infante défunte – Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) transcribed by DJB (2017)
Improvisation: Scherzo Symphonique
Symphonie VI – Charles Marie-Widor (1844-1937)
Finale – Vivace
Symphony No. 5 in D Major – Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) transcribed by DJB (2019)