Music at Saint Wilfrid Harrogate
Music is a vital and important part of life at St Wilfrid, bringing our various communities together, and enriching our liturgical worship and prayer.
The Music Department is made up of the Director of Music, Assistant Organist and the Parish Choir. The Parish Choir rehearses on Thursday evenings, and also before the Parish Mass on Sundays. In addition, the choir sings at many weekday services, weddings, funerals and occasionally on Sunday evenings. They perform a wide range of repertoire from medieval plainsong, renaissance and baroque music through to the most contemporary of composers.
Anthony Gray joined us as Director of Music in September 2019 from Southwell Minster. He is always interested is hearing from musicians who wish to join the Parish Choir or support the Music Department in any way. You can contact him at email@example.com. We are delighted to welcome Peter Brand as our Assistant Organist from September 2021.
You can keep updated on all the musical activities at St Wilfrid on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Search using the handle @stwilfsmusic.
The current music list can be downloaded here: December 2021
Anthony Gray – Director of Music
Anthony Gray (b. 1996) is an organist, choral director and composer based in Yorkshire. He is Director of Music of St Wilfrid’s Church, Harrogate, Director of the Fairfax Singers, Organ Tutor for the Diocese of Leeds, Assistant Director of The Florence International Singing Programme and the Piano Tutor at Rishworth and Heathfield schools. He graduated as Organ Scholar of Robinson College, Cambridge, Organist for St. John’s Voices and Accompanist of Cambridgeshire Choral Society. He co-founded and directed The Robinson Consort, focussing on contemporary repertoire, and toured to destinations including East Asia, Switzerland, Portugal and the St-Remy-En-Provence Opera Festival. He has been Musical Director of acclaimed theatre productions including The Duchess of Malfi, Joseph and his own co-authored A Very Brexit Musical at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was shortlisted in the final of the BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition 2019 with his setting of ‘Go To The Child’, and his music is performed across the country.
Peter Brand – Assistant Organist
Born in Preston, Peter Brand graduated from the University of Leeds in Summer 2007 with an honours degree in music, having served as Edward Boyle Organ Scholar. This position was also combined with that of an Alto Lay Clerk in the professional choir at Leeds Parish Church. During this time he received organ tuition from The City Organist, Dr. Simon Lindley. At the Parish Church he was privileged to perform in The Battle of the Organs alongside Prof. Ian Tracey and David Houlder for three consecutive years. Peter has been involved with church and organ music since the age of eight as a member of the famous choir at Broughton, St John Baptist near Preston under the direction of John Catterall MBE, receiving organ tuition from Ian Seddon. A former pupil at Hutton Grammar School, he was a member of the large Chamber Choir. In Yorkshire, Peter has accompanied choirs and congregations at most major churches across Leeds. Peter has held Organist positions in a number of churches and has had much experience of directing Parish Church Choirs across the city, including: Holy Trinity, Meanwood; St. Aidan’s church, Harehills and St. Michael & All Angels, Headingley. As a trained teacher, Peter has worked in secondary music education for over 11 years. He now is taking a break from the classroom to complete a law conversion course. His interests include walking, camping, and cooking. Peter is married to Lucy and has two young daughters…. And two cats (Hildegard von Bingen and Bairstow).
The Parish Choir
The Parish Choir is the principal choir of adults and children who sing at the principal service at St Wilfrid’s. Anywhere between 8 and 20 in number, they sing at each Parish Mass on a Sunday at 10am, and for the principal feast days and high days throughout the year.
The choir’s repertoire ranges from the very earliest gregorian chant and polyphony right through to contemporary music and commissions, with regular premieres of new works by living composers. They have recently incorporated the new St Wilfrid, Harrogate psalter entitled ‘Psalms of the Duchy’ into the music for each Parish Mass. You can read more details about this project below.
The music team are always keen to hear from singers who would like to come and try the Parish Choir. We place a high value on sight reading, but are very keen to hear from those with any level of experience, and a high level of enthusiasm! You can view our latest music list on this site and see some of the repertoire the choir performs, and get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Young Wilf’s Voices
Young Wilf’s Voices is our new choir for children and young people, launching November 2021. The choir will be open to all those over the age of 8, and will be a great opportunity to gain a free musical education from our talented music team, as well as make new friends, learn leadership and co-operation skills and learn amazing music too.
The choir rehearses each Thursday during North Yorkshire County Council school term times, from 6:45pm until 7:30pm. As member of the choir grow in experience, they will be asked to begin to contribute to the singing with the Parish Choir, in the hope that they will grow further in confidence and musical ability. The Parish Choir rehearses directly after Young Wilf’s Voices, to enable this.
Young Wilf’s Voices are invited to sing for services occasionally across each term. We recognise that Sundays can often be a difficult pull on children and young people’s time, and therefore a minimum commitment level at weekend is sustained. For those who wish to make a more regular commitment, we hope to enable them to become part of the Parish Choir as soon as possible.
If you’d be interested in hearing more about Young Wilf’s Voices, you can watch the video below:
Contact email@example.com for more information.
Psalms of the Duchy –
The St Wilfrid Harrogate Responsorial Psalter
Foreword by Jonathan Finch
Though the UK’s national lockdown which occurred as a result of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic represented an unprecedented time of change, challenge and anxiety, from its midst came something new and enduring, presented in this volume. Anthony Gray conceived the original idea for a St Wilfrid Psalter, which would offer all the Psalmody as set out in the Revised Common Lectionary provision for each week and feast day throughout the year. The existing cohort of psalms, whilst functional, amalgamated or omitted verses and did not cover the number necessary to sing all the appropriate verses, as outlined in the Lectionary.
His solution was to commission a large-scale project to create a completely original psalter to include all the morning psalms for years A, B and C, as well as major feast days and the sundry additional texts needed, such as the canticles for the Easter Vigil. The resulting publication is a complete psalter where much of the material has been specifically written with St Wilfrid and his church in mind, encompassing a brilliant range of musical styles and ideas across the collection.
A panoply of 41 talented composers have graciously given their time and expertise to this project, for which we owe a huge thanks. Many have been – or are currently – associated personally with the Church of St Wilfrid in Harrogate, built on land leased by the Duchy of Lancaster in the late 19th century, which became known as the Duchy Estate. All will find a special place for themselves in the hearts of those who use this psalter, both now and in the generations to come.
Read more about this project on the link below:
The Phoenix Digital Organ
Purchased from Newcastle Cathedral in 2021, the Phoenix Digital organ is a 4-manual digital instrument in use for almost all services at St Wilfrid, Harrogate.
The 72 speaking stop instrument is divided into five divisions (Choir, Great, Swell, Solo and Pedal) and further into two geographical division in the church building itself. The Solo division and elements of the Great and Pedal Principal chorus are placed in the western end of the building, above the baptistry. This enables the organist to employ antiphonal effects, as well as support congregational singing to a much greater extent.
The remainder of the organ can be found above the quire, at clerestory level, with each archway west to east comprising the Great, Choir and Swell divisions respectively. The Pedal division is found behind the Great and Choir divisions.
The console (built by Andrew Sixmith) is movable around the church floor, enabling a huge degree of flexibility for concerts and services. We are hugely grateful for the brilliant work done by T R Moore Organ Builders who constructed the platform on which the console is placed.
You can hear the organ each Sunday at the Parish Mass (10am), and also each Thursday during term time, when the Said Mass (6pm) is accompanied by organ music. Recent recordings have included a collaborative project for the Malcolm Arnold festival, wherein a set of variations on an original Arnold theme were created and recorded by Bradford Cathedral’s Director of Music, Alex Berry.
(Written by Anthony Gray, Director of Music)
The Harrison & Harrison Pipe Organ
The main pipe organ in St Wilfrid’s was built by Harrison & Harrison of Durham in 1928, and unusually, they have looked after it ever since. Also unusually, the organ has never been altered, apart from the addition of certain ranks of pipes that were only ‘prepared for’ when the organ was built. It remains, therefore, as a rare surviving unaltered organ of the period, and is recognised as an instrument of historical importance.
Harrison organs of that vintage are generally recognised as being of special quality, and this is one of the builder’s most successful ventures, played by many famous organists over the years, and much appreciated by all. As stated above, little has been done to the instrument since 1928, the significant additions being as follows: installation of the Harmonic Piccolo (2’) and Orchestral Bassoon (16’), both on the Choir manual, in 1943, the Tuba (8’), playable from both the Choir and the Great manuals, in 1968, together with the Ophicleide (16’) on the Pedal, and finally, the 4-rank Mixture on the Great in 2011. All these stops were ‘Prepared for’ in the original specification, and only the Tuba needed a separate wind chest and action added.
As regards maintenance, apart from regular tuning and an annual visit to service the blower and humidifiers, little has been necessary. The only substantial work was done on releathering the drawstop slider machines on the Great and Choir manuals (1972 & 1980), and, apart from odds and ends over the years, nothing else.
Now, the need for a full restoration is imperative, and the organ has been placed into retirement until the necessary funds can be raised to do that work. The intention is to put a case on the restored organ, the money having been left to the church by Bridget Nickols in 2001. We all look forward to seeing and enjoying the restored instrument, as soon as that can be arranged.
(Written by Tim Gray, Organist Emeritus)
Gray and Davidson Chamber Organ
In the Lady Chapel is a Victorian chamber organ, made by Gray and Davison, a well- known builder from the middle of the 19th century. This one dates from about 1849, and is a one-manual instrument with mechanical action, which was obtained from the Stockport Christadelphian church, where it became redundant at the end of the last century.
It has a good Diapason chorus, 8’, 4’. 2’, plus a couple of flutes and a gentle string stop, with a single stopped rank to act as the bass octave for all the 8’ stops – there is not the height available for a full-length 8’ rank.
Though in the Lady Chapel, directly behind the high altar reredos (pictured), it has a good sound, and can be clearly heard, right to the back of the nave. Used regularly for Sunday evensong and other services for some years, it now has little use, owing to changes in the service pattern.
In a church the size of St Wilfrid’s, the addition of an organ just for the Lady Chapel is a great advantage, because use of the Harrison organ from the organ loft is really not practicable for a service in the Lady Chapel.
(Written by Tim Gray, Organist Emeritus)