John Challenger (organ of Salisbury Cathedral)
Assistant Director of Music, John Challenger, releases his second album on the Cathedral’s Father Willis Organ. This album was recorded prior to the dismantling of Salisbury's famous instrument, which was built in 1876 and is currently undergoing major restoration. In this new recording, John plays organ works by the nineteenth-century composer and founder of the French Symphonic organ school, César Franck. The programme includes Franck’s Pièce Heroïque, the Prelude, Fugue and Variation, along with the gigantic Three Chorals for Organ, which Franck composed in 1890, immediately prior to his death. This is the first album to be released independently by Salisbury Cathedral, and all proceeds from sales of this recording will help support our music.
Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op.18
Trois Chorals pour Grand Orgue
I. E major
II. B minor
III. A minor
Recorded in Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, UK on 30th January - 2nd February 2018
Recording Engineering, Editing and Production: Andrew Post
Producers: David Halls & Daniel Mathieson
Total Time: 69.23
Release Date: November 2019
Organist and conductor John Challenger has been Assistant Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral since 2012, where he was appointed at the age of 23. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, he was taught the organ by Frédéric Blanc, David Briggs, Jeremy Filsell, Mark Williams, and the late David Sanger.
In 2015 he released his début solo CD on the organ of Salisbury Cathedral, featuring transcriptions of orchestral works by Edward Elgar. The recording was awarded five stars by Choir & Organ Magazine, and received enthusiastic reviews in the American Record Review, Hi-Fi Plus, Organists’ Review, and on Classic FM, while Cathedral Music Magazine commented that ‘it would be difficult to imagine a more auspicious début CD’.
In early 2017, he acted as Director of Music of St John’s College, Cambridge (where he had been Organ Scholar), during the sabbatical of the College’s Director of Music, Andrew Nethsingha. During this period the world-famous choir’s performances were praised in Gramophone Magazine, and the choir broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Recent engagements have included directing Salisbury Musical Society and Salisbury Symphony Orchestra in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and appearing as organist for ‘Organ Vespers’—a sequence of organ cycles by Olivier Messiaen, performed in new liturgical contexts at Salisbury Cathedral.
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