Barnaby Silverstone – RCM

Organ Recital

Wednesday 1 May 2024 – 1 pm to 1:45 pmrecitals

On Wednesday 1 May we greatly enjoyed an organ recital performed by Barnaby Silverstone from the RCM.

An excellent variety of splendid music played in a truly masterful fashion!


J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750) ‘Dorian’ Toccata and Fugue, BWV 538
Grayston Ives (b. 1948) Partita on ‘Grosser Gott’
Samuel Barber arr. Strickland (1910 – 1981) Adagio for Strings
Max Reger (1873 – 1916) Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, Op. 67 No. 3′
David Bednall (b. 1979) Toccata on ‘Aberystwyth’

Programme Note from Barnaby

J.S. Bach ‘Dorian’ Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538

Bach likely wrote this impressive toccata and fugue while he was working in Weimar between 1712-1717. The toccata is a fiendish, monothematic piece which emulates both string and harpsichord-like textures, its iconic theme is made up of semiquavers which run almost from the beginning to the end of the toccata.Bach dictates to the player which manuals to play each section on, creating a lively dialogue between the great organ and the choir organ.

The monumental fugue, although it starts simply, builds layer upon layer as Bach intertwines the theme of the fugue with the two countersubjects. The tension builds as the theme appears in canon, first heard in the pedal and the soprano voice in the manuals, then followed by the inner voices. After a held pedal trill, Bach breaks the complex intertwining of voices and harks back to the toccata with sharp question and answer chords to finish.

The epithet ‘dorian’ refers to the fact that this piece, despite being in D minor, has no key signature – this nickname can be first traced back to a publication in 1845.

Grayston Ives Partita on ‘Grosser Gott’

Bill Ives (writing as Grayton Ives) works as a singer, conductor, teacher and composer. Ives was a member of The King’s Singers, directed the choir of Magdalen College, Oxford for 18 years, and as a composer is most known for his choral compositions and arrangements. Ives has written 4 pieces for the organ, the most famous of these is ‘Intrada’, which was commissioned for Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1977.

This partita, written in 2011, is based on the 17th century tune Grosser Gott, and consists of 8 variations which take the form of various traditional dance forms of the keyboard suites and partitas of the 17th and 18th century. After a play-through of the theme, the partita consists of a prelude, allemande, courante, tombeau, aria, sarabande and minuet, before finishing with a powerful toccata.

Samuel Barber arr. William Strickland Adagio for Strings

Samuel Barber is one of the most celebrated American composers of the mid 20th century. Barber showed great musical promise from an early age, his first composition, an operetta, named ‘The Rose Tree’, set to a libretto by the family’s cook, was written when he was just 10 years old, then at age 12 he became organist at his local church. Adagio for Strings is one of Barber’s best known works, and is actually an arrangement of an arrangement, as the composer adapted the piece for a string orchestra from a movement of his Op. 11 String Quartet.

The piece was premiered in 1938, and since then has been heard at the funerals of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and Princess Grace of Monaco, as well as being featured in sitcoms such as Seinfeld, South Park, American Dad! and The Simpsons. Barber actually rejected several proposed organ arrangements of Adagio for Strings, but when approached by William Strickland encouraged him to prepare his own version for publication. The arrangement received a lukewarm reception from the composer, but was published regardless in 1949.

Max Reger Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

Reger was born in 1873 in Bavaria, Germany, and from age 5 Reger learnt Violin, Organ, Piano and Cello from his parents. As well as writing a large amount of organ music, Reger also composed symphonic works, lieder, piano works and chamber works, in addition to working as a conductor. Reger spent much of his life in Leipzig, working as musical director at the Leipzig University Church and professor at the Leipzig Royal Conservatory, which is very fitting, as although Reger’s harmonies built on those of Liszt and Wagner, he championed the complex contrapuntal writings of Bach.

The third piece of Reger’s Opus 67 is based on the Lutheran lent tune of ‘Out of the deep, I cry unto you’, which Reger sets to slow, contemplative prelude, with the chorale melody in the pedal. This collection of ‘Easy Pieces’ harks back to J.S. Bach’s Orgelbuchlein, which was acknowledged by Reger himself in a letter: “None are technically difficult and the melodies have been collected by an organist of 30 years experience. I can surely say without any arrogance that since J. S. Bach, no such collection has been published”.

David Bednall Toccata on Aberystwyth

David Bednall is one of the leading choral and organ composers of his generation. He studied for a PhD in composition at the University of Bristol, and is signed to Oxford University Press as a House Composer. He also has studied with Naji Hakim and David Briggs, both famed improvisers, particularly in the French style. As an organist, Bednall has recorded works by Hakim, Messiaen and Vierne, and has explored his love of improvisation with Malcolm Archer in a joint CD named ‘Sounds Spontaneous’. David is currently Sub Organist at Bristol Cathedral, Choral Director at Clifton Cathedral and Director of the Bristol Chamber Choir.

This fiery toccata is based on the hymn tune ‘Aberystwyth’, written by Joseph Parry in 1876, which is usually sung to the words ‘Jesu, lover of my soul’. Bednall opens with a repeating arpeggio motif to accompany the hymn tune, before inverting the arpeggio into the left hand with the melody again solo’d on the great division. The dynamic drops in the middle section, and then the tension is ramped up again as we hear the melody played by the pedals. Bednall drives up the dynamic right to the end, before ending on an extended chord consisting of 11 notes.


An undergraduate organist from West London, Barnaby Silverstone is the organ scholar of St. Mary’s, Barnes. He started his organ journey in 2019 at his local church St. Mary’s, Osterley where he began playing in services, and subsequently in 2021 he was appointed organ scholar at St. Mary Magdalene, Richmond, a post which he held for 2 years. In this role Barnaby cy studying as a second-year undergraduate at the Royal College of Music, where he studies organ with David Graham, Charlie Andrews and Martin Schmeding. With the RCM Barnaby has gone on organ trips visiting and playing organs across Leipzig, Hamburg and Haarlem, and more recently has performed Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony with the Royal College of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Chloe van Soeterstede.

Aside from the organ, Barnaby enjoys playing the recorder, having played with the National Youth Recorder Orchestra and in productions in the Claybody Theatre,

Going forward Barnaby looks forward to organ recitals at Croydon Minster and Holy Trinombined accompanying weekly choral eucharists and choral evensongs with the taking of the choir, some highlights with the choir of St. Mary Magdalene include tours to Southwark Cathedral and Queens’ College, Cambridge.

Barnaby is currentlity Sloane Square, and from September, joining HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace as organ scholar.

Refreshments will be available in the Song School afterwards

Admission is free, but we welcome your contribution towards our expenses. If you are a UK tax payer please consider using Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation by a quarter.

Photos & Recording ©Graham Hillman


PRS Music Licence- LE-0032994Brentwood Cathedral Music©2024Photos©Graham Hillman