Organ Fireworks

 Spring Bank Holiday Monday (28th May) was a notable day in the history of Foxearth Church. An organ recital by Ian McMillan included the world premiere of two pieces especially written for him by one of Great Britain’s foremost composers, Dr John Rutter. Ian styled the concert  “Organ Fireworks” and he certainly kept his promise!

Beginning with J.S. Bach’s iconic Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (of “Fantasia” fame) Ian’s flying fingers and feet then had a more restful time in the dreamy Evensong by Easthope Martin. This was followed by Chorale No. 1 in E major by Cesar Franck – a great treasure of the organ literature.

The tour of the continent continued with a Toccatina for flutes by the Italian composer, Pietro Yon;a delightful two minutes or so of rapid semi-quavers! We then heard two Psalm Preludes by Herbert Howells, famous for his vast output of Anglican church music. No entertainment by Ian would be complete without some reference to his obvious passion for and expertise in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and so we were treated to an exuberant rendition of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s the March of the Peers from Iolanthe arranged by Ian for organ.  Ian dashed up to the chancel to say a few helpful words about each item and when we reached the last programmed works he explained that Quentin had approached John Rutter to write some music for Ian’s milestone birthday and Dr Rutter had come up with Mr Mac’s Maggots; two pieces inscribed as Elegy and Festive Bells. These were, in turn, beautifully calming and vigorously descriptive.

For an encore Ian sent us homeward with the boisterous – and evocative of the fairground – Sortie in E flat by Lefebure-Wely ringing in our ears. We sang a belated birthday greeting to Ian incorporating Nick who today moved on another year.

We had hoped that Dr Rutter would be able to come to the recital but a conducting engagement at Carnegie Hall in New York understandably prevented this. However we were very pleased to welcome Mrs Rutter who was able to send photographs of the occasion across the pond.

Over 60 people attended the event and a handsome £570 was raised for the future maintenance of our fine 1863 Father Willis organ. On arrival coffee and shortbread biscuits were served and we are grateful to Margaret and the Foxearth ladies she enlisted in the  bake off. Thanks are also expressed to Malcolm, Fiona and Kevin for general help and rigging up the large video screen and to David for the car-parking facility. But where would have been without the initiative of Ian and Quentin in suggesting the concert in the first place and Ian’s superb playing which was loudly received by the appreciative audience.

Ken Nice

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