25 years of Father Willis concerts

All Saints Organ Concert Series 2013. Review by Marrion Wells.

All Saints’ 1878 Father Willis is a small example of this Rolls Royce of the organ world but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in adaptability, as we heard throughout the eight weeks of Marion Lovell’s 25th season of concerts, now firmly established far outside the Hastings boundary.

Eight well-known names with their individual styles performed their ‘own choice’ treating us to works from Byrd and Vivaldi to Lerner and Lowe.

As ever, firm favourite was Bach. Simon Bell also gave us classics by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Liszt coming near present.

Colin Walsh gave us a Bach Prelude & Fugue in G minor, and works by Stanford, Franck and Duruflé, including Pastorale, by Bournemouth composer Percy Whitlock.

Philip Scriven’s Bach item was his Trio Sonata No1. In contrast was Noel Rawsthorne’s Dance Suite, his Line Dance, and works by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.

The holiday mood was reflected by BBC’s Nigel Ogden with familiar melodies from Mendelssohn, Mascagni, Waldteufel and Eric Coates, as well as selections from popular musicals, with a fun finale.

Daniel Moult introduced Variations on America by the little-known but amazingly prolific composer Charles Ives, born in Danbury, Connecticut, USA,1854, died New York City 1974, whose work has recently known a resurgence of interest.

Stephen Disley, of Southwark Cathedral, produced a triple helping of Bach with the Air from the Suite in D and the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor in Part One and in the second the Fantasia in G, while the following week Charles Andrews went one better with four Bach pieces, three in the first half and opening the second with his Toccata in F.

As always the responsibility or honour whichever way one sees it, of closing the season fell to Huddersfield’s maestro Gordon Stewart who opened with three movements by Handel, before - yes, a Chorale Prelude, a Fugue and the first movement of an A minor Concerto by Vivaldi, replacing the Italian style for Teutonic by Johann Sebastian Bach.

At the conclusion Marion Lovell thanked her helpers in both musical and ‘housekeeping’ areas before front-of-house manager Peter Dengate presented her with a fine floral tribute.

Marion announced next year’s opening date as Monday, July 4, 2014.