LIFEM | 13-16 November 2024 — Subscribe for more news

William Whitehead

Friday 10th November 2023, 2.00pm

St. Michael & All Angels, Pond Road, Blackheath SE3 9JL

Free with an Exhibition Ticket or Festival Pass

William Whitehead has gained a wide reputation for his engaging and inspiring interpretation of the organ repertoire. His concert career was given a boost when he won first prize at the Odense International organ competition in Denmark, 2004. Since then he has travelled widely giving concerts in Europe and the US. Recent venues include Oslo Cathedral, Uppsala Cathedral, The Royal Festival Hall, London (his debut at this venue), Westminster Cathedral and The Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms.

A recorded artist on dozens of discs, he is most recently to be heard as organ soloist in Handel’s Op. 7 No. 1 Organ Concerto with the Gabrieli Consort and Players (Winged Lion label). His work as a continuo player brings him together with groups such as the Gabrieli Consort, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Proms 2019 and 2023). 2015’s Proms saw him appear with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Trained at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music, William is now a sought-after organ teacher, with many students at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Previously he has held appointments as Assistant Organist, Rochester Cathedral, and Director of Music at St Mary’s Bourne Street; and is now the Associate Organist of Lincoln’s Inn in London. He has been a professor at both the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music.

As curator of the Orgelbüchlein project, William is seeing through a large-scale project to ‘complete’ Bach’s unfinished collection. This international project has already garnered much interest and is fast becoming a cross-section of the most interesting composers at work today. More information is available at The first volume is available with Peters Edition and the second with Musica Baltica.

Programme - Friday 10th November 2023, 2.00pm

‘Dances and Puzzles’

William Whitehead, keyboards

Like any profound composer, William Byrd took the standard forms of music and inlaid extra meaning, nuance and structure into them. The stately duple Pavan and its companion three-time Galliard were set many times by Byrd over his career, but each of his examples has unique features, deepening and varying the standard form. He frequently enriches the dance with dialogues and counterpoints, even including canons.

Alongside Byrd I set the music of John Lugge, one-time Organist of Exeter Cathedral, and pursuer of similar rhythmic and intellectual enrichments in his compositions. The earliest known double voluntaries are by him, in other words needing two manuals on the organ, and I end the programme with his most exuberant example.

William Byrd (c. 1540-1623)
Pavan and Galliard, BK 71
John Lugge (c. 1580 - after 1645)
Christe qui lux
William Byrd
Pavan: Canon 2 in 1, BK 74
Galliard, BK 77
John Lugge
Ut re mi fa sol la
William Byrd
Ut re mi fa sol la, BK 58
Pavan and Galliard, BK 31
John Lugge
Voluntarie in 3 parts (Double Voluntary)