Birthday parties- they're not just for people anymore! March 23rd marked Royal Festival Hall Organ's 50th birthday which was celebrated with a musical evening of four organ and orchestra concertos. The hall was totally sold out six weeks before the event and standing room only space was sold on the day. The buzz and sold-out hall, reminiscent of Gillian Weir's sold-out 60th birthday recital a few years ago, filled the huge audience with a marvelous party atmosphere, where the four organists and London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Hill produced an unparalleled organ spectacular: “In the RFH, it was standing room only; a thrilled audience of organistas seemed to have come from all over the country. Not since the recent visit of Brian Wilson has this hall throbbed and vibrated to the palpable delight of so many expert enthusiasts, nor its roof seemed in such imminent danger of involuntary elevation” (The Observer, March 28, 2004).

The evening started with Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva performed by Thomas Trotter: “His playing captured the lyricism of the work, culminating in a furious cadenza for pedals alone in which Trotter displayed some truly fancy footwork”. This was followed by John Scott performing the popular and well-known Poulenc Organ Concerto, and then Nicholas Kynaston performed the Suite in the Old Style by Respighi, which perfectly suited its place in the program with its lower-key mood. The final piece, the Symphony No. 1 for Organ by Alexenadre Guilmant, was “the highlight of the evening, especially when in the hands of the grande dame of British organists, Gillian Weir. Above all it is a work that suited the celebratory nature of the occasion, and Weir's performance was a marvel of sonic and technical brilliance while still finding room for the subtleties of the central pastorale.” (Matthew Rye, The Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2004)