The music says a big “yes”:
Tim Rishton plays in the Erlöserkirche [Potsdam]
The British Royals always commissioned the best composers from their empire to write melodious or serious music for the church ceremonies in connection with coronations or weddings: Ralph Vaughan Williams for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and William Mathias for the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.
From these British composers, the Welsh organist Tim Rishton selected for his concert in the Erlöserkirche a processional march and the prelude over the hymn "Rhosymedre", two works which, in their celebratory / hymn-like solemnity could well and gladly form part of national celebrations. In addition, Rishton played folk- song preludes or hymn preludes by the Norwegian composers Bjarne Sløgedal and Egil Hovland, music that spoke through its simple romantic melodiousness and its skilful approach – especially Hovland’s rhythmic entertaining Toccata. The church musician and university professor, who lives and works in England and in Norway, knew how best to use the tonal possibilities of the Schuke organ in regard to the demands of the respective works.
In this concert, which was arranged jointly by the International Organ Summer series and the Potsdam Bach Festival, one would gladly have heard some more serious works from Great Britain and Norway. So the special interest remained with the evening’s music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564, from his Weimar period, is in large format. Energetically and with a directness of expression, the Toccata cleared itself the way. In Rishton’s reading, it was like a large portal, through which one entered powerfully into the abundance of a sublimely-equipped world. The Adagio was full of confident calm breathing, which is, however, significantly compressed; even during the wildly-chromatic final minutes does not allow itself to be irritated. The fugue unfolded with self-confident basic assumption: pure positiveness: the music says a big “yes”.
Vivaldi and Bach: this is also a broad field. The Saxon [Bach] transcribed for the organ the Concerto in A minor by the Venetian composer. Rishton played it in the Erlöserkirche. The Adagio was particularly captivating and sensitively managed, then flowing into the lively Allegro. The fresh and uncluttered playing style of the organist was then revealed again in the Trio Sonata in C major, BWV 526. Whether in the dance-like, happy Vivace, in the tonally exquisitely balanced and floating Largo or in the concluding Allegro with its compact, fresh and lively flirtatiousness: everyone was happy, enjoying the sometimes slow, sometimes cheerfully swelling music, along with the silvery colours in which it was bathed. Warm applause for Tim Rishton.
BACH FESTIVAL: Masterly Interpretation
Virtuoso organ concert by the Bach expert Tim Rishton from Bradford in the Erlöserkirche
POTSDAM / BRANDENBURG SUBURB - it is established tradition that the international organ summer in Potsdam International Organ Summer in Potsdam joins the Potsdam Bach Festival for two concerts. Organ and Bach form an inseparable unit. At the many workplaces of the great Baroque composer, right up to his last position as Thomaskantor in Leipzig, Bach was always connected with the "King of instruments", to which his many organ works also bear eloquent testimony.
The guest at the Erlöserkirche on Wednesday evening was a proven expert in the organ works of Buxtehude and Bach, Tim Rishton from the English town of Bradford. The focal point of the programme was three exemplary works of the native of Thüringen, Bach. The "Toccata, Adagio and Fugue" of 1709 is a vital sparkling Opus. A long, sporty pedal solo in the Toccata turns into an adagio with catchy and constant pedal accompaniment, ending up in a boisterous fugue. This virtuoso masterpiece of the young Bach was exemplarily interpreted.
The arranging of Concerto grossi and solo concertos by contemporary composers also had an important place in the production of Bach's keyboard and organ works. Rishton selected for his concert one of "six concertos by various masters" BWV 593. The source of this arrangement is the Concerto for Two Violins and Strings in A minor by Antonio Vivaldi. In this work the final allegro is an especially rousing hit, offering interesting display possibilities on the organ in terms of imitating the Violin sound.
The third serious contribution consisted of the Trio Sonata no. 5 in C major. The six Trio sonatas were composed by Bach to serve as practice works for the pedal harpsichord for his oldest son Wilhelm Friedemann; today they represent the "high art" for every good organist. In Rishton, this three-movement work had found its master. In addition to Bach, this musician living in Norway played works by William Mathias, Ralf Vaughan Williams, Bjarne Sløgedal and Egil Hovland; each of these composers had been inspired by Bach.
Tim Rishton perfectly masters the organPleasant treat for visitors in Ponitz
Ponitz (OTZ/Dr Felix Friedrich).
This year the parish of Ponitz once again invites visitors to the interesting concert series on its Silbermann organ. The attractiveness of this valuable and wonderful-sounding organ is undiminished, and the pleasant concert last Saturday once again provided proof of this.
But also the well-known guest organist Tim Rishton, who had been engaged to give the evening's recital, contributed to the very great attraction. Tim Rishton commutes back and forth between his home lands of England and Norway as a professor.
"His specialist field is performance practice", announced the Ponitz church musician Christoph Beyrer in his introductory greeting. And this was evident in Tim Rishton's concert. His immaculate playing was perfectly adapted to the action and playing style of the Ponitz organ, which he controlled from the very first note; if he did not necessarily use Silbermann's original registrations, he did maintain the accompanying strict performance practice. The tonal rendition of the individual compositions in the programme reflected above all the wonderful Principals and foundation stops of the Silbermann organ.
This naturally benefited from the outset the character of the second Organ Sonate in C minor by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. From the opening clearly-delineated declamatory passages to the lovingly long concluding chords many details were brought out with a certain English detatchment. From his English homeland he had included only one piece in the program, namely four movements from the Water Music by the adoptive Englishman Georg Friedrich Händel, originally composed for a royal boat trip on the Thames. These four movements acquitted themselves very distinctively on the Silbermann organ, above all the beautifully-played Air using the strong flute voices. The well-known Hornpipe also lost none of its effect, but could nevertheless have coped with a brisker speed.
Rishton then impressively played the "Resurrection of Jesus" by Justin Heinrich Knecht. This Easter tone painting for the organ, as the work's subtitle notes, demands a colourful interpretation. There was the dreadful quiet of the grave, with the quietest voices of the Silbermann organ, the quaking of the earth, depicted with very gloomy rumbling stops, and in the end the triumph song of the angels, in which Tim Rishton allowed the joyful galant music style to emerge.
This was stylishly and impressively followed by Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in B minor and three intimate hymn prologues from the op. 122 of Johannes Brahms. Here Tim Rishton showed that he is just as knowledgeable in the style of the 18th century as in that of the 19th. He avoided the too-often heard excessively overtone-rich sound in the Vivaldi and strongly emphasised the foundation stops of the Silbermann organ in the Brahmsian miniatures. One may have wished for the opportunity to hear the large plenum including the trombone in the pedal, perhaps in the emotional ascending Coda to the Prelude and the following, not less intensive, Fugue in F minor BWV 534 by Johann Sebastian Bach. Tim Rishton declined to do so. Perhaps this abstinence was deliberately chosen. In Lent, in which we presently find ourselves, the loud sounds of jubilation are not necessarily appropriate.
Nevertheless Rishton with his concert left behind a very good impression, not least through his skilled treatment of the not easy to play Ponitz Silbermann organ.
Ostthüringer Zeitung 01.04.2009
As PDF of original (in German)
John Stanley"In his engaging, informative and humoristic manner, he spoke about Stanley and the music by him and around him. It was an enjoyable hour, with new information about English music and Stanley's voluntaries beautifully performed on the Grønlund organ".
Edgar Hansen in Norsk Kirkemusikk 2013 i, page 33, regarding the lecture-recital during the Norwegian Organ Festival 2012.
Original here as PDF (in Norwegian).
Entertaining organist (5 star)
SPJELKAVIK. The well-known organist Tim Rishton had the honour of heading up the Autumn concert series in Spjelkavik Church. He gives concerts in an international arena and is in addition an extremely entertaining speaker.
Bach's six trio sonatas ... demand intense concentration from the start to keep control over the wealth of dialogue between the voices. Tim Rishton has in addition a well-grounded and relaxed musicality that allows the music to flow freely and unhampered.
Johann Gottfried Walther's ... arrangement of Vivaldi's Concerto in B minor ... was fresh and clear.
Ralph Vaughan Williams's chorale prelude "Rhosymedre" is a well-formed work with lovely melodic lines which in Rishton's performance was a beautiful experience.
Those who came got a lot for their money.
As PDF of original (in Norwegian)
"a brilliant organist"
"en fremragende orgelspiller"
Gudbrandsdalen og Lillehammer Tilskuer
"During the opening number by John Parry, you could close your eyes and dream of the eighteenth century. Bach's C-minor Passacaglia danced with strength and fullness in its music"
"Under åpningsnummeret av John Parry kunne en lukke øynene og drømme seg til syttenhundretallet. Bachs Passacaglia i c-moll [var] en dans med kraft og fylde i musikken"
"Organ music of the highest class"
"Orgelmusikk av ypperste klasse"
"We hope that this organist will return to Harstad for we really want to hear him again"
"Organisten vonar vi legg turen innom Harstad ein annan gong for han høyrer vi gjerne igjen"
"For an hour and a half the church was filled with the music of Vivaldi, Brahms, Bach and Mendelssohn, performed by Dr Tim Rishton ... and every single face was lit up by happy smiles"
"I halvannen time ble kirkerommet fylt med verker av Vivaldi, Brahms, Bach og Mendelssohn, framført av dr. Tim Rishton ... og salige smil strålte i hvert eneste ansikt"
Framtid i Nord
"Astoundingly good ... a world-class organist"
"Helt utrolig flott ... organist i verdensklasse"
"Fabulous organ playing ... was greatly enjoyed"
"Glimrande orgelspel ... vekte stor begeistring"
Reviews of Joyful Noise
- Review by Peter Dale in Choir & Organ (January 2007, p.69) (as PDF)
This ambitious book sets itself a huge brief in the form of a handbook for the parish organist, covering everything from accompanying hymns to using humidifiers – primary, and sometimes pressing matters, all of them, and the advice here is immensely sound, wise and informative. Just as useful are passages about humility, diplomacy and courage. Then there’s how, diplomatically, to engage with the loud singer in the congregation who has his own tempi, phrasing and compulsion to rallentando at the end of each verse; or how to make expressive use of silence. A rich, deeply considered compilation. In fact, if only the book had an index it would recommend itself as an indispensable vade mecum.
An illuminating feature is its references to Lutheran practices in Norway, where Rishton has taught. It reminded me of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, with conventional courses in performance and composition, but also qualifications in Teaching and Church Musicianship. At a stroke Finland has largely eliminated what are two perennially problematic areas of British musical life.
Where Rishton is most interesting (in the Why? section) is where he is also most contentious. Recognising candidly ‘a substantial group of agnostic organists’, he argues very firmly that church musicians should be ‘theologically competent’, and goes on to lament ‘that we have lost sight of the biblical concept of music as spiritual warfare’. When that expression first crops up it is in the context of Joshua, trumpets, shofars, and so on, but later it becomes clear that what he really means is something much more militant and (if my residual theological memory serves me right), actually rather Manichaean – so, quite frankly, not all that attractive to people of a more quietist disposition. Is he really unaware of, or is he blinded by, his own conviction to the complexity of this issue? And, indeed, to the irony that some of our best hymn/religious composers have been very considerable doubters? But he actually cites one of them (VW) with (innocent?) approval. Better, I think, to have made this the subject of another book, and to have concentrated instead upon the handbook, which is arguably its real forte anyway. Even at this rather high price, it’s worth it for that.
Abridged version of review by Canon Jeremy Fletcher (Precentor of York Minster) on The Foundation for Church Leadership website, 2007
Tim Rishton is Director in Continuing Studies in Music at the University of Lancaster, and an organist with a wide experience in churches in the UK and in Norway. Married to a priest, he sets out in Joyful Noise to right a perceived imbalance between the theological and musical apitudes of the leaders of music in churches, and to provide a theological underpinning to the use of music in worship. Starting with a wide-ranging reflection on the purpose of music and moving to detailed practical hints, much of the book is addressed to music leaders, though ‘non musical’ church will find something of interest and value too.
[There] are some gems for which I am thankful. It is always helpful to be reminded that music has a number of functions in worship, that a church leadership team should include the musical leader(s), and that genuine collaboration is essential, not an unattainable holy grail. The book is good on the processes which have lead to the angry marginalisation of many organists and music leaders, and rightly points out that its is their very specialism in music alone to the detriment of liturgical and theological knowledge that puts many musicians and their clergy on a collision course. The same is not true of Lutheran Churches, where music leaders need to demonstrate theological competence before using their music in a liturgical context. It is something which the RSCM is now giving impressive weight to, but this will take a decade or two to make a real difference.
There is a brilliant passage where Rishton gives a forensic diagnosis of how organists can come to be isolated from the purpose and life changing nature of worship, because of their very concentration on doing the best possible professional job. Focussing on their tasks within a service can mean not concentrating on the worship as a whole, and organists can become arrogantly superior, he says, while denying themselves the opportunity to be changed and to journey through the service with the rest of the congregation. “It is not surprising that so many organists withdraw from an active expression of faith within the congregation: the wonder is that any retain a living personal faith at all”. A discussion of this passage alone between Vicar and Organist could be incredibly fruitful.
The practical sections for organists are detailed and helpful, if at the most basic of levels. Given the dearth of organists and music leaders today this is probably about right.
Church Music Training website
"An entertaining and informative book ..."
ROBERT FIELDING (Salisbury Diocesan Church Music Adviser).
Review of course for church organists"On Saturday 9 November , All Saints [Burton in Lonsdale] was host for a group of organists from the Deanery and surrounding region who met together for the day with Professor Tim Rishton from Kelbrook - including our own organists from Thornton and Burton. The meeting was organised by Anthony Smith, organist at St Margaret's Church, High Bentham.
The sessions comprised both discussion and practical work on the organ. Dr Rishton has a particular ministry in guiding and encouraging organists and after the session grateful comments could be heard for his skilled guidance, for his friendly style of teaching and for getting the level right for those participating. He seeks to bring together clear Christian faith and professional expertise in the worship of our Lord.
This was the first of these meetings in the Diocese and it is now planned for similar meetings to be held in other deaneries, and for further possible workships here in Ewecross. We look forward to that."
Ewecross Deanery News, December 2002
Biographical articlesRomsdals Budstikke 19 August 1995 (Large PDF file - 18MB)
Åndalsnes Avis 5 February 1994 (Large PDF file - 19MB)