Sunlit harmonies

Sunlit harmonies ‘Four in a Bar’, Irish male voice close-harmony quartet

June brings with it a number of special musical events not least the ‘Pipewroks International Organ and Choral Festival’ and the ‘Dun Laoghaire summer Sunday evening organ recitals’ in St Michael’s Church.

The former opened its doors on June 19 afternoon with a master class in Milltown’s St Philip’s Church directed by Geoffrey Webber, a renowned expert on Buxtehude and the North German style.

The festival’s first evening programme took place  on June 19 in Adam and Eve’s Church on Dublin’s Merchant’s Quay, where eminent Manchester-born organist Daniel Moult joined the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Pipeworks Festival Chorus, under artistic director David Leigh.

This commemorated the centenary of the death of Dubliner Charles Villiers Stanford with his Stabat Mater and brought the Irish première of Percy Whitlock’s Symphony for organ and orchestra. Following his death from TB in 1946 Whitlock’s music has been, more or less, neglected.

Studying under Stanford at London’s Royal College of Music, his Organ Symphony dates from 1936/37. While his output rests mainly in the realm of light music, Whitlock also left a considerable repository of organ and choral works among them a concert overture – The Feast of St Benedict – from 1934 and the spectacular Carillion for organ and orchestra of 1932.

David Moult has master classes this June 20 afternoon at St Philip’s Milltown while this evening ‘Four in a Bar’ – a male voice close harmony quartet from Christ Church’s own choir – offer a diverse and varied programme in the cathedral that includes a commissioned piece from Rhona Clarke that focuses on Stanford’s legacy in a thought-provoking way.

The cathedral is also the venue for a later event tonight devoted principally to Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with John Finucane, clarinet, Mia Cooper, violin, Martin Johnston, cello and Fergal Caulfield, piano. The Quartet is one of Messiaen’s most hauntingly beautiful and otherworldly works written when he was a prisoner of war in Silesia in 1941. His organ Diptyque, the second section of which prefigures music of the Quartet, begins the programme.

Geoffrey Webber will give a short lunchtime recital in Sandford on June 21 including further snippets of Stanford and Whitlock. On the same day we find David Moult in the Carmelite Church Whitefriars’ Street playing a substantial programme of Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Liszt and finding room for another little helping of Stanford through his Intermezzo on the Londonderry Air.

English organist, scholar and director, Edward Higginbottom, features in a number of musical guises in TCD’s Exam Hall on Saturday, June 22. He will have a discussion with the festival’s Andrew Johnstone at 2pm; give a master class there at 3pm and present an early evening recital of French Baroque music, for which he has a particular penchant, at 6pm.

Pipeworks Festival ends on Sunday June 23, evening in St Michael’s in Dun Laoghaire when Moscow–born Mona Hartmann plays music by Buxtehude, Bach and Mendelssohn on the church’s fine Rieger instrument.

A multiple prize-winning concert organist, Mona Hartmann is recognised as exceptional among the leading players of her generation.