On the Cover...
From the November 1966 Diapason, a description announcing Gillian Weir's first extensive North America concert tours.
Click on the image itself to see an enlarged version.
Special Interview & Panel Discsussion
Saturday, August 2nd 2014, at the Royal Festival Hall, London: The Southbank Centre Organ Symposium on the Royal Festival Hall Organ, in collaboration with the British Institute of Organ Studies and the Royal College of Music. This was part of the Royal Festival Hall's Festival to celebrate the restoration of the Hall's organ after nearly a decade's absence.
Gillian Weir, who has performed at the Southbank Centre over fifty times, was interviewed by William McVicker, the Southbank Centre's Organ Curator, on her long association with the Royal Festival Hall organ. Gillian Weir, Lionel Rogg and others took part in a panel discussion on historical and contemporary performance practice.
An undiscovered treasure! Recorded in 1966 but never released are nearly 100 minutes of Messiaen recorded by Gillian Weir shortly after she won the St. Alban's Competition. At the centrepiece of this recital is Les Corps Glorieux and the other pieces display Dame Gillian's immense command over and total empathy with this music. The 7000+-word notes include an introduction to the recording; detailed notes on the works; and a fascinating article on her association and work with Olivier Messiaen - all by Dame Gillian. Also included is a technical note on the history of the recording (made in the early hours of the morning on 10 and 11 October 1966, to ensure that any sound of trains was minimised!) and its remastering, by Campbell Hughes, engineer for the original project and remastering engineer for this issue.
Click here to order.
Scherzo is a delightful disc with a collection of fun music for the organ, showing its lighter and playful side. Performed with Gillian Weir's customary wit and virtuosity, it was recorded on the Aeolian-Skinner Organ of Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is currently available from retailers such as amazon. Click here for track listings.
Final Year of Public Recitals
The final public recital will be held on December 5th at Westminster Cathedral in London. This recital will mark the climax of Gillian Weir's final year of public performances. During 2012 she will play in many of her favourite and prestigious venues in Europe and Great Britain, culminating in this performance in the great cathedral where in November 1964 she gave one of the first of her nearly 2000 concerts given around the world during her celebrated career. After 2012 she will continue with master-classes, adjudicating and some recording.
The legendary six-part television programme The King of Instruments is available on DVD! Gillian Weir takes you on a tour across Europe featuring six different organs, providing engaging dialogue about the history of the times, music and instruments. See and hear over 20 works by a wide range of composers performed on these beautiful instruments, as filmed and recorded by the BBC team in the late 1980s. Order your own copy and experience why the BBC said “it performed remarkably well, achieving a 2 million audience and a very high audience appreciation index (AI) “second only to the wedding of Charles and Diana”.
Click here for notes, track listings, and ordering information.
The May-July 2010 issue of The Organ magazine features an article Dame Gillian Weir: A personal appreciation by John Amis. The article retraces Gillian Weir's career over the years and notes her extraordinary impact on the world of the organ. Click here to go to the article.
Apple's iTunes store now carries a wider variety of Gillian Weir's recordings. The where to buy page has the details and links.
Honorary Doctorate Received
The University of London conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music on Gillian Weir for her contribution to music, at a special ceremony that was held at the Senate House in September of 2009. The degree of Hon D Mus is awarded only rarely by London University and is thus of special distinction. For previous honours awarded to Gillian Weir please see the biography page.
The winner of the contest regarding the work Six variationen über una tema di Vincent Youmans on the new Birmingham Symphony Hall CD is Mr. David Young of Frisco, Texas. Mr. Young, shown here with Gillian Weir having his celebratory tea, is himself a former organist, an avid organ music enthusiast and has been a fan of Gillian Weir for over 35 years. You can still try to figure out the variations on the contest web page; it will tell you when you are correct.
On Stage! Again!
A new double-CD recording has now been released by Priory Records, featuring Gillian Weir performing on the Klais Organ at the magnificent Symphony Hall in Birmingham. It features 11 toccatas, all spectacular in various ways, from the amazing Toccata Settima by Michelangelo Rossi, which piles chromatic harmonies on top of one another till the whole building is ringing with them, to the stunningly virtuosic Toccata for the Libération by the Comte de Saint-Martin. The Slonimsky Toccata in particular has been setting audiences ablaze in recent recital performances- it's a wild piece with exciting rhythms suggestive of a horde of Cossacks in a savage dance. Then there's one more work: the Six Variationen über una tema di Vincent Youman by William McVicker - which theme will be very familiar when heard... and which has a fun mystery element. The work was commissioned by six organists a little while ago, and McVicker has written the six variations with each of the organists in mind - but will not give up the secret of which is which. Can you guess!? We've created an online page where you can submit your guess!
We've added a iTunes cover art page which has images of all the CDs which are suitable for use with new iTunes verison 7.
June 2006 From the July 2006 issue of American Organist: “The fabled Royal Albert Hall organ, the largest in the British Isles, has happily undergone a very successful restoration... And who better to perform the first recording on the restored giant than the Grande Dame of organists - Gillian Weir? Weir combines breathless virtuosity with exquisite poetry in her inimitable way. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect marriage of player, repertoire, and instrument. This is a superlative musical experience of heroic proportions.”
Update! July 2006 Gramophone Editor's Choice: “One of the greatest stars of London's music scene is showcased in a fabulous disc... a classic recording - a truly great CD! Gillian Weir's performances of Ives's witty variations, Grison's dazzling Toccata and Dupré's sparkling Noël Variations are characterized by imaginative colouring, wit and breathtaking virtuosity”
Innovative Mozart Celebration
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27th, 1756, so this year will be full with
many events celebrating the composer's 250th anniversary.
On Sunday, January 29th, an innovative programme
was held at the Tonbridge School in Kent with Dame Gillian Weir performing organ and keyboard works by
Mozart on the organ,
readings of letters written by Mozart, read by film star Robert Powell.
Dame Gillian Weir performed a solo organ recital on the newly restored organ at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 October before an audience of over 2000 people. The first solo organ recital to be performed at the hall in a very long time, it included a number of works heard on her sensational new CD from the hall which was released earlier this year. Already hailed as “A landmark recording with Weir and instrument a perfect partnership” (July 2005 Gramophone Editor's Choice), the new Royal Albert Hall recording has proven to be a popular seller.
Summer Concerts Prove Popular
A busy concert schedule has had Gillian traveling to many places. She recently performed at the AGO regional convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “Some 600 people filled Mayflower Congregational Church to standing-room-only to hear Weir... by the end of the program, all were standing. In a 75-minute program, Weir played a series of virtuoso works by Max Reger, Marcel Dupre and less familiar composers that would, in most other situations, leave another player gasping for breath as if he had just run on a marathon. After polishing off Marcel Lanquetuit's Toccata in D major, a showpiece for hands that was majestic for all its activity, Weir still appeared as relaxed as if she had just finished an evening stroll. Weir played with all the vigor and virtuosity of a Franz Liszt” (from The Grand Rapids Press).
Back by Popular Demand: King of Instruments Series!
This set of historic organ performances recorded between 1974 and 1980 is now available as part of the Eloquence series of the Decca label; the discs are now sold as individual CDs. With “authority and stylish aplomb,” Gillian Weir performs a wide variety of music on instruments new and old.
Like finding a pristine photograph of a treasured great-great-grandparent, the Mulholland Grand Organ in the Ulster Hall in Belfast provides an exceptionally clear and intact view of the Victorian Town Hall Organ. On one of the best-preserved organs of that era, Gillian Weir performs music from a wide variety of composers and time periods, showing the remarkable flexibility of this instrument.
Distinguished Visiting Artist
Gillian Weir has accepted the appointment of Distinguished Visiting Artist at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University for the 2005-2006 Academic Year. She will give classes to the Organ Department which is led by the internationally known organist and teacher Donald Sutherland.
The fifth and final volume of Messiaen's organ works are now complete, which includes Livre du Sacrement, and three new additional works published after Messiaen's death: Prélude, Monodie, and Offrande au Saint Sacrement, which now makes this series of recordings fully complete.
From the February 2005 issue of The Organ: “No matter how many organ recordings I listen to, those of Gillian Weir simply mesmerise me, no less so than in her reissued series of recordings of Messiaen. It is though she is in contant communication with that extraordinary composer.”
The June 2005 issue of Gramophone remarks that “mention should also be made of Weir's excellent insert-notes where scholarship and the communicative skills of a great musician are together in perfect harmony,” and from the April 2005 BBC Music Magazine, commenting on one of that issues choice CDs: “Gillian Weir's Bach series, consummation of a world-class musician's recorded legacy, continues with this release recorded in Leipzig, where her characteristic clarity, wit and elegance are partnered by the excellent and much-heralded ‘Bach’ organ at St Thomas's.”
From the October 2004 The American Organist: “There is only one Dame Gillian Weir. She is without peer in her ability to do everything right...”, and from the June 2004 issue of Gramophone: “Her playing during these two and a half hours of organic bliss really is beyond all praise.”
Honorary Doctor Degree Awarded
Gillian Weir performed the opening recital on the new Aubertin organ in the King's College Chapel at Aberdeen University in Scotland. This organ by Aubertin of France was the first installation in the U.K. The University graciously bestowed an Honorary D.Mus at that time for her contributions in music.