Hereford Cathedral Organ Scholar, Hector Coley, will be launching the 2021 Lunchtime Organ Recital programme on Tuesday 6 July at 1.15 pm. 

Hector Coley, Organ Scholar (2020–21), said: "It is a great privilege to be giving the opening recital this year at Hereford Cathedral! Having had many opportunities delayed or cancelled because of various lockdowns, I'm very grateful to have been able to play this wonderful Willis instrument for such a long time and take advantage of everything that the cathedral music department has been involved in. As my year as organ scholar comes to its close, I want to thank all those that have helped me prepare this recital and given me so much good advice throughout my time here."

Admission for the recital is free but, due to a limited audience capacity, we cannot guarantee tickets will be available on the door. Advance booking is strongly recommended via the cathedral website. Click here to book.

Hector has kindly shared his programme with in advance of his recital:

Felix Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue No 1 in C minor

Mendelssohn was hugely influential both as a performer and composer, and very important in the rediscovery of Bach’s works. Written in 1835, this Prelude and Fugue captivates the Baroque style and shows off Mendelssohn’s masterful fugal technique. I’ve chosen this piece as it was my main new project during the lockdown in January 2021.


Maria Theresa von Paradis: Sicilienne

Originally, this work was written for violin and piano. Blind from an early age, von Paradis became a prolific performer, premiering works by Mozart and Haydn. She helped establish the first school for the blind in 1785. Her Sicilienne is a serene, reflective piece which I’m playing today to show off this organ’s solo stops.


Robert Schumann: Canonic Study No 5 in B minor

Schumann wrote these pieces in the spring of 1845 for his wife Clara. The Schumanns had recently acquired a pedal-piano, for which many similar compositions were written; consequently, this piece features a simple pedal part, lacking in sustained notes like most organ music at the time. Despite this, however, this plaintive study fills our wonderful acoustic here with a feeling of inevitability.


César Franck: Choral No 1 in E

Franck wrote the three famous Chorals very late in his life. He was Titulaire at Sainte-Clotilde and composed them very specifically for the Cavaillé-Coll organ there. We are very lucky at Hereford to have a marvellous Willis organ with enough colours that I can recreate many of the timbres that Franck requested in the manuscript, a rare privilege on English instruments.


Ethel Smyth: Chorale Prelude and Canon on 'O Gott, du frommer Gott'

Smyth apparently wrote these chorale preludes, of which this is one of five, in 1882-4 while she was in Florence. A prolific yet unrecognised composer, she studied in Leipzig first at the conservatoire, and then privately with conductor Heinrich von Herzogenberg; her time in Germany likely inspired these chorales. She was appointed DBE and received honorary doctorates from Durham and Oxford universities for her work, but went deaf before she had an opportunity to hear much of her own music performed. This harmonically-rich chorale prelude is beautiful yet mournful, reflecting her struggles with sexism in her career.


Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Melody

This delightful piece was one of Coleridge-Taylor's earliest compositions, written shortly before he found success as a composer at the Three Choirs Festival in 1898. It especially shows the influence of Stanford, his tutor, and supposedly also draws inspiration from black folk melodies he heard as a child. 'Melody' provides a little calm before the furious Grison Toccata.


Jules Grison: Toccata in F

Grison became the organist of Reims Cathedral at the age of 21. This Toccata is probably his most famous work, featuring a stormy opening in F minor and a beautiful contrasting theme which returns triumphantly at the end of the piece. I had this piece on one of the first CDs I ever had and have fond memories of listening to it as a child. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to performing it on a cathedral organ, and its massive, exuberant finale feels like a fitting end to my time at Hereford.