Andrew Downes' Music for Organ

CD released in November 2021


PREMIERES:



PRELUDE FANFARE & POSTLUDE FOR ORGAN Opus 9 (1975)
6th May 1976
Birmingham Cathedral

Organist John Bishop

PRELUDE: THE FOREST AT DAWN Opus 78(a) (2000)
4th November 2000
Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire

Organist Paul Hale


SONATA FOR ORGAN OPUS 92 (2006)
22nd August 2007
St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire
Organist Robert Green

INTRODUCTION AND ALLEGRO FOR SOLO ORGAN OPUS 94 (2007)
22nd June 2008
Memorial Church, Harvard
Organist Carson Cooman

More information and sheet music

Have you performed in any of these works or come to watch? Please share below!



An account by Andrew's wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on February 21st, 2022

In 2021 Andrew asked our daughter Paula, Chief Executive of Lynwood Music, to find an excellent organist to record his four organ works.  Robin Walker was recommended to Paula by Andy Arthur, distinguished organist based in Cambridge, and she already knew Myles Eastwood, a superb and highly successful recording engineer.  Robin was delighted to be hired to do the recording and chose the organ of Ely Cathedral, because he said Andrew’s music “required a large space … being big music, written on a big frame …  symphonic ... needing a very wide palette … most enjoyable to play … some tricky parts but the effect is worth it.” (taken from Robin’s podcast interview with Paula).  Paula also attended Robin’s brilliant recordings, which were launched on 12th November 2021 by Regent Records, who created a beautiful CD with a gorgeous picture of Ely Cathedral at dawn to match the title of the CD, chosen by Robin, after the name of the first piece on the CD, The Forest at Dawn.



1. PRELUDE FANFARE & POSTLUDE FOR ORGAN Opus 9 (1975)

More info


Andrew had only been teaching at the Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) a short while when his talents as a composer came to the attention of the Head of the Organ Department, Dr John Bishop, who asked Andrew to compose a work for him.  Andrew was delighted.  He had always admired John Bishop’s fine, sensitive playing, and composed Prelude, Fanfare and Postlude for Organ to match it.  John had no hesitation in premiering Andrew’s work in his recital in Birmingham Cathedral on 6th May 1976.  I remember sitting next to Andrew in the Cathedral, listening to this sublime playing of Andrew’s brilliant work.

Programme:


Andrew was even more delighted when John told him he was going to record Prelude, Fanfare and Postlude for BBC Radio 3 on July 19th 1978, as part of his Recital from Bridlington Priory, which was broadcast on Radio 3 on 27th December 1978.  We had an exciting post-Christmas time, waiting for this first national broadcast of Andrew’s music, which didn’t disappoint!

Radio Times listing:


At around the same time a brilliant organ student from the Birmingham School of Music, the late Martin Schellenberg, who was already giving recitals all over the country, took up Andrew’s work and played it often.  

Programmes:


Martin Schellenberg's performances:


The work has been further performed in many of the country's concert halls, churches and cathedrals.  Performances which we know about include ones by: Robert Green 
in June 1979 in Hereford Cathedral (former teacher of Andrew’s at Aldridge Grammar School); Ian Bednall in 1980 at St Michael’s Cornhill (organist at Barking Parish Church in London and friend of Andrew’s from their time living as neighbours in Jesson Road, Walsall); Duncan Honeybourne  (many performances);  Richard Silk (Fanfare) in Carr’s Lane Church, Birmingham (organ tutor at the Birmingham School of Music); and Graham Williams (Fanfare) at his wedding in 1978 (former student at the Birmingham School of Music). 

The Fanfare was also performed by Duncan Honeybourne at the wedding of our daughter Anna to Michael J Price at St John's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, on 27th December, 2003.  Duncan performed this movement as part of his recital in All Saints Church, Wyke Regis, Dorset, in September 2018.


Graham Williams' marriage to Karen Holt - Order of Service:


Correspondence and programmes:


The Postlude was performed at the Memorial Church, Harvard University, USA, on March 14th 2007 (broadcast on WHRB Radio) by Carson P Cooman, who went on to give the American premiere of the whole work at St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Rochester NY, on June 20th 2007.


Prelude, Fanfare and Postlude for Organ was recorded by Robin Walker on the organ of Ely Cathedral for a CD of all Andrew’s organ music to date, launched on 12th November 2021 by Regent Records (recording engineer Myles Eastwood), who created a beautiful CD with a gorgeous picture of Ely Cathedral at dawn to match the title of the CD, chosen by Robin, after the name of the first piece on the CD, The Forest at Dawn.




2. PRELUDE: THE FOREST AT DAWN Opus 78(a) (2000)


Commissioned and published by the Incorporated Society of Organists in their Millennium Organ Book (ISMN M9002031).

More info

In celebration of the new millennium, the Royal College of Organists published their Millennium Organ Book.  Andrew was extremely pleased to be asked to compose a work for it.  As he began working on his piece, after hearing the first few bars, I said: “That sounds beautiful, just like the forest at dawn.”  Thus Andrew adopted the title!  The whole piece conjures up the gradual awakening of the day in wooded countryside, and has proved very popular with organists.

The commission:


The Millennium Organ Book:


The premiere of all the pieces in the Millennium Organ Book was given by superb organist, Paul Hale, on 4th November 2000 in Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire.  We thoroughly enjoyed his recital, particularly Andrew’s piece! 

From the recital programme:

Before the recital, we were all invited to a lunch in a lovely pub opposite the Minster.  On the wall in a frame in the pub there was a list of all the signatories to King Charles I’s Death Warrant in 1649.  This was fascinating for us, because the signature of Andrew’s ancestor, John Downes, was on the list.  More amazing was the fact that his writing was just like Andrew’s Dad’s!  John Downes was the MP for Arundel.  When Charles II came back to the throne in 1660, he wanted revenge for his father’s murder.  The signatories were hung, drawn and quartered, all except John Downes, who said he had been bullied into signing.  He was believed and spent the rest of his days in the Tower of London.  John’s family were stripped of all their assets.  For generations the Downes family had to work as stone miners.  Andrew’s great-grandfather managed to become a greengrocer and Andrew’s grandfather a cobbler, whose ten children all became successful in their lives, as has Andrew.


Shortly after the recital in Southwell Minster, Paul Hale recorded all of the works in the Millennium Organ Book for a CD for the Incorporated Society of Organists, entitled Fanfare for the Millennium.

CD cover and notes:

This has led to numerous subsequent performances all over the country and broadcasts, including ones by: Thomas Trotter in Birmingham Cathedral in December 2000; Christopher Totney on the organ of Durham Cathedral, on Easter Sunday and in July 2005; Anthony Cairns at Christ Church, Leatherhead, in 2008; Paul Evans in St John's Church, Hagley (including a performance in 2019 as part of our daughter Anna’s 'Music for Sanctuary' concert series supporting charities for the homeless); and performances by David Bruce Payne and Duncan Honeybourne in the South West of England.

Correspondence, programmes and reviews:


The Forest at Dawn was recorded by Robin Walker on the organ of Ely Cathedral for a CD of all Andrew’s organ music to date, launched on 12th November 2021 by Regent Records (recording engineer Myles Eastwood), who created a beautiful CD with a gorgeous picture of Ely Cathedral at dawn to match the title of the CD, chosen by Robin, after the name of the first piece on the CD, The Forest at Dawn.


Duncan Honeybourne has transcribed this work for piano, and has included it in this form in many piano recitals, including a performance in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, on June 21st 2005, in a concert of Music by Andrew Downes to mark his retirement from Birmingham Conservatoire.

Duncan has included this work on his CD entitled Piano Music from the Midlands.  This version has been broadcast many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA, several times on Classic FM South Africa, and was broadcast for the first time on Classic FM UK on May 11th 2014.



Fan mail:



3. SONATA FOR ORGAN OPUS 92 (2006)
3 movements

More info

Andrew’s music teacher at Aldridge Grammar School, Robert Green, was a superb organist.  Andrew first heard his teacher play when Robert took a group of pupils, including Andrew, to an event at Lichfield Cathedral in which he was playing.  Robert was Assistant Organist at the Cathedral.  
Several years later, in 1978, Robert wrote to Andrew to congratulate him on his Prelude, Fanfare and Postlude for Organ, which he had heard on BBC Radio 3.  Robert wanted to buy a copy of Andrew’s work, but we sent him a free one!  Robert performed it very shortly afterwards in Hereford Cathedral.



Many years later, in 2006, Andrew decided he wanted to write a piece for Robert.  Robert was very flattered and readily agreed.  Thus Andrew’s Sonata for Organ was born.  Robert was a lot older by this time and said he was daunted by the difficulty of the piece, but he soon wrote to say he had a recital coming up in St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, on 22nd August 2007, and was taking the opportunity to premiere the Sonata.
 
We took a lovely mini break in Wales, ending up in St David’s to attend Robert’s recital.  Robert gave an amazing premiere of the work.  


Programme:


Sonata for Organ was recorded by Robin Walker on the organ of Ely Cathedral for a CD of all Andrew’s organ music to date, launched on 12th November 2021 by Regent Records (recording engineer Myles Eastwood), who created a beautiful CD with a gorgeous picture of Ely Cathedral at dawn to match the title of the CD, chosen by Robin, after the name of the first piece on the CD, The Forest at Dawn.



4. INTRODUCTION AND ALLEGRO FOR SOLO ORGAN OPUS 94 (2007)

More info

Between 2005 and 2009, our daughter Paula lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, with her husband David, who was studying for a PhD in musicology at Harvard.  Paula and David were also employed as Pastoral Care Tutors at the University.  They also quickly made friends with Edward Jones, the Organist and Choirmaster at the Memorial Church, Harvard, and Carson Cooman, Organist/Composer-in-Residence at Harvard Memorial Church.  Andrew and I met them too when we visited Paula and David.  Both Ed and Carson took an interest in Andrew’s music.  Ed conducted a number of Andrew’s choral works and Carson gave the first American performance of Andrew’s Prelude, Fanfare and Postlude at St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Rochester NY, on June 20th 2007.


Memorial Church, Harvard Services Sheet, March 2007:


Carson was delighted when Andrew wrote a piece for him, Introduction and Allegro for Solo Organ.  He loved the piece and premiered it at the Memorial Church, Harvard, on 22nd June 2008.

Correspondence:


Carson has given numerous subsequent performances: at Christ Episcopal Church, Portola Valley, California, (July 2008); at First Unitarian Society, Newton, Massachusetts (July 2008); at Christ United Church, Worcester, Massachusetts (August 2008); and at Salem Hills Parish, Nantucket, Massachusetts (August 2008).


Introduction and Allegro for Solo Organ was recorded by Robin Walker on the organ of Ely Cathedral for a CD of all Andrew’s organ music to date, launched on 12th November 2021 by Regent Records (recording engineer Myles Eastwood), who created a beautiful CD with a gorgeous picture of Ely Cathedral at dawn to match the title of the CD, chosen by Robin, after the name of the first piece on the CD, The Forest at Dawn.


Have you performed in any of these works or come to watch?

We would love to hear about your experience. Please share it here!

Return to the top of the page

Return to Premieres Blog page

Follow Cynthia Downes on Instagram to keep up-to-date with her blog posts:

@cynthia.downes.12

ddd


ddd

If you have performed in any of Andrew Downes' works or come to listen, please share your experiences in the Premieres Blog! Also see what others have said. Thank you so much for your contribution.





www.musiceducationwhiz.com

ddd

ddd

dddd

ddd

Follow!