Margaret Philips organ recital April 2021 Portico Portaferry
Sat 24 Apr

MusicOrgan recital by Margaret Phillips livestream

One of Britain's outstanding concert organists and teachers, Margaret Phillips studied with the late Ralph Downes and Marie-Claire Alain. After her début at the Royal Festival Hall, she soon gained an international reputation as a soloist, playing at concert halls and cathedrals throughout Europe and in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and Mexico. Alongside her busy concert career, she was a member of Council of the Royal College of Organists for 20 years, and President of the Incorporated Association of Organists from 1997–99. Since 1996 she has been Professor of Organ at the Royal College of Music in London.

In 1994, Margaret Phillips and her husband founded the English Organ School and Museum in former chapel premises in Milborne Port, Somerset, where there is a collection of organs by English builders from the eighteenth century to the present day. EOS aims to provide facilities for learning and playing the organ, to promote its understanding and appreciation as a musical instrument, and to preserve a modest part of Britain's organ heritage.            
Margaret’s recent performance highlights include concerts in several Scandinavian cathedrals, as well as celebrity recitals at both Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. In 2015 she gave two marathon series, each of 18 concerts, of the complete works of Bach: first in Milborne Port and then in London at St George’s, Hanover Square, and in June 2016 she played an evening recital at the Royal Festival Hall in their international series Pull Out All the Stops which was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Margaret regularly gives masterclasses both at home and abroad, and has served on international competition juries such as those at St Albans and Odense. Her numerous CDs, which include the complete organ works of Bach, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns and Stanley, have been highly praised, the first two volumes of the Bach series being hailed as ‘some of the finest performances of Bach chorale preludes on disc’. Her most recent releases are Capriccio, showcasing contemporary music for organ, and Multum in Parvo, which features 12 of the instruments at the English Organ School.


Prelude & Fugue in G  BWV 541                                                     J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Variations on Mein junges Leben hat ein End                                Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621)
Improvisations nos. 2, 4 & 7 from Sept Improvisations  Op.150.   Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
            Moderato quasi andantino: Feria Pentecostes – 
            Allegretto – Allegro giocoso
Organ Hours                                                                                  Philip Wilby (born 1949)
            (Contrapuntal Exercises after the Medieval Clock of Wells Cathedral)
            Prelude: Brother Lightfoot’s Clocke; Fugue 1 
            The Inward Face: Sun, Moon and Stars
            Double Fugue: Jack and the Knights of Old
            Night Fugue and a Chime in the Dark 
Choral no. 3 in A minor                                                                César Franck (1822–1890)
Programme note for Organ Hours
Organ Hours (Contrapuntal Exercises after the Medieval Clock of Wells Cathedral)
The Great Clock of Wells Cathedral, which is one of the oldest in England, has been delighting passers-by since 1390. So when the Wells Cathedral organist, Matthew Owens, asked him for a set of short fugues to play on his new House Organ, built by Klop in 2017, the composer Philip Wilby turned to the medieval clock and its many historical figures to provide a framework for this collection of contrapuntal exercises. Organ Clocks were very popular in eighteenth century Austria, and we have surviving music by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven for these instruments. Indeed, Mozart’s three compositions for ‘Orgel Uhr’ count as some of the finest pieces of his last years.
Prelude & Fugue: Brother Lightfoot’s Clocke. The inspiration here is from the mechanism of the Great Clock of Wells Cathedral, said to have been made in 1390 by Peter Lightfoot, one of the monks from Glastonbury Abbey. The movement is cast as a short prelude and fugue in perpetual motion.
The Inward Face: Sun, Moon and Stars. A short ground bass provides a musical equivalent to Lightfoot’s vision of the heavens. The celestial imagery of the inner clock face is fascinating, showing Earth at the centre, with the Sun, Moon, and Stars in circular motion over three concentric dials.
Double Fugue: Jack and the Knights of Old. The bell mechanism of the clock contains a pair of Automata: ‘Jack Blandifer’ is a humorous figure, who acts as ‘QuarterJack’, striking two bells every fifteen minutes. His rustic humour is counterpointed on the hour with a sudden appearance of jousting Knights. A double Fugue portrays both personalities and combines them at the movement’s close with a flourish of climactic sound.
Night Fugue and a Chime in the Dark. The final fugue imagines the sound of the clock in the Cathedral at night. Against the sound of the ticking clock, it begins in the organ’s highest register, and gradually descends to its lowest notes, ending with a threefold ‘Chime in the Dark’.

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Event Details

Sat 24 Apr
19:30 to 21:00



  • The Portaferry Hotel
  • Self Catering
  • Slip Inn
  • Salthouse Restaurant
  • The Slip Inn
  • The Lobster Pot

How to get here

Portico is easy to find in Portaferry. You can also get detailed driving directions or check out the ferry timetable for crossing from Strangford.