Peter Dyke, Assistant Organist and Director of Music at Hereford Cathedral, will explore ‘New Worlds’ in an evening organ concert on Tuesday 5 June at 7.15pm.

Peter said “The organ is so often thought of as an old-fashioned instrument, but its huge range of colour and volume actually mean it is capable of some very surprising sounds. I’ll be showing off some of the most exciting in this concert.”

The programme has been planned around the final piece in the concert, the fourth movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 ‘From the New World’, originally written for orchestra in 1893, when the composer was Director of the National Conservatory of Music of America, and transcribed for organ by Zsigmond Szathmary and Peter Dyke. “Dvorak was composing his ‘’New World’’ symphony at around the same time as the organ-builder Henry Willis was putting the finishing touches to the organ in Hereford Cathedral, so it is perhaps not inappropriate to play a transcription of the spectacular final movement,” said Mr Dyke. “Its bold opening unmistakably sets the scene and contrasts with a beautifully lyrical second theme. Right at the end, a vigorous bass line seems to have come from a twelve-bar blues: a new world indeed.”

America is also represented in the concert by the extraordinarily jazzy ‘Gospel Prelude’ on the well-known hymn tune ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, composed by William Bolcom, who was born in Seattle, Washington, and recently celebrated his eightieth birthday. Bolcom was taught by the classical composers Milhaud and Messiaen, but his music also shows the influence of ragtime and jazz.

Other references to ‘New Worlds’ in Mr Dyke’s programme are less obvious. It includes two movements from the Organ Symphony No 1 by the Canadian composer Rachel Laurin; the Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 548 by J S Bach, which was ground-breaking in its ‘wedge-shaped’ musical structure; Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Le banquet celeste’, the first solo organ work to be written by a composer who became famous for the originality of his musical voice; and an unusual piece by the seventeenth-century Spanish composer Pablo Bruna, written for the right hand only. The programme is completed by Mr Dyke’s own transcription of the piano prelude ‘Danseuses de Delphes’ by Claude Debussy. ‘This year marks the centenary of Debussy’s death,’ he said, ‘and although Debussy wrote no organ music, it seems fair to celebrate the considerable influence he had on so many other musicians who did, not least Olivier Messiaen.’

Hereford Cathedral Evening Organ Concert will take place on Tuesday 5 June at 7.15pm. Tickets for the performance cost £10 (students £4) from Hereford Cathedral Shop, 01432 374208 or [email protected]