PHI CD 184: BRITISH CHORAL
TRADITION VOLUME THREE
The Choir of York Minster Directed by Francis Jackosn Live & Session Recordings 1950-1976
Two CD set for the price of one Amphion CD - £12.50 inc U.K. p&p if ordered direct from Amphion
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Above: The Choir of York Minster, Easter Day
1966. Andrew Carter is fourth from the left, front row. Francis
Jackson & Ronald Perrin (Assistant Organist) seated centre.
John Rothera far right, front row.
CD ONE: The Choir of York Minster directed
by Francis Jackson Session Recordings from E.M.I.'s An Anthology
of English Church Music
 Magnificat in B flat - C. V. Stanford (1852-1924).Rec. 3/4/50
 Give us the wings of faith - Ernest Bullock (1890-1979). Rec. 1/2/52.
 O where shall wisdom be found - William Boyce (1711-1779). Rec. 1/2/52.
 Sing we Merrily - William Child (1606-1697). LX 1565. Rec. March 1951.
 Rejoice in the Lord alway - attr. John Redford (d. c.1547). Rec. March 1951.
Private live recordings made during services
at York Minster
 Magnificat &  Nunc Dimittis in D - George Dyson (1883-1964). Rec. 1960.
 God is a Spirit - William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875). Rec. 17/5/59.
 Te Deum in E - Alan Gray (1855-1935). Rec. 1961.
 How bright these glorious spirits shine - Francis Jackson (b.1917). Rec. 1961.
 Gloria Deo per immensa saecula - Healey Willan (1880-1968). Rec. June 1964
 Miserere mei - William Byrd (1543-1623). Rec. 1/4/60.
 God liveth Still - J.S. Bach (1685-1750). Rec. 1/9/59.
 Wash me throughly - S.S. Wesley (1810-1876). Rec. 28/2/64.
 Blow ye the trumpet - Francis Jackson. Treble solo: Robin Walker. Rec. 8/3/64
. Te Lucis ante terminum - Balfour Gardiner Rec. November 1962
. to  Columbia 78 r.p.m. record catalogue numbers in italics
 -  Alan Wicks - organ
 -  Francis Jackson - conductor
All other organ accompaniments by Francis JacksonUnaccompanied items conducted by Francis Jackson
CD TWO: The Choir of York Minster directed by Francis Jackson Private live recordings made during services at York Minster
 Magnificat &  Nunc Dimittis in B minor - Tertius Noble (1867-1953). Rec. 1/11/55.
 Hodie Christus natus est - Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). Rec. Christmas Day 1963.
 Coventry Carol - Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988). Rec. 1965.
 In dulci jubilo arr. - Robert Pearsall (1795-1856). Rec. 1959.
 Blessed Virgins' cradle song - Edward Bairstow (1874-1946). Rec. 1959.
 A Spotless Rose - Herbert Howells (1892-1983). Rec. 6/1/56.
 Te Deum in C - Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). Rec. 9/8/64.
 O God thou hast cast us out - Henry Purcell (1659-1695). Rec. 1962.
 Gloria in excelsis deo - Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623). Rec. October 1963.
 Domine Jesu Christe - Francis Jackson. Rec. 1976.
 O bone Jesu - William Child (1606-1697). Rec. 12/11/63.
 Magnificat &  Nunc Dimittis in G - Francis Jackson. Rec. June 1963.
 Virga Jesse Floruit - Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). Rec. 1976.
 To my humble supplication - Gustav Holst (1874-1934). Rec. 16/5/65
 O taste and see how gracious the Lord is - Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Rec. 9/8/64.
 Magnificat [5.07] &  Nunc Dimittis [2.56] in E flat No. 1 - Charles Wood (1866-1926). Rec. Whit Sunday 17/5/59.
Organ accompaniments by Francis Jackson Unaccompanied items conducted by Francis Jackson
TOTAL PLAYING TIME OF BOTH CDs: 2 HOURS 39 MINUTES
Francis Jackson Master of the Music York
Minster 1946 - 1982
remembers John Rothera and his tape recorder
This anthology, containing music from the 16th century to the late twentieth, represents a part of the repertoire of the choir of York Minster in the daily sung services. The first five tracks were session recordings made by E.M.I. and issued on 78 r.p.m. Columbia records as part of the four part series An Anthology of English Church Music.
However, the majority of the recordings came about - one might say almost fortuitously - through the dedication and persistence of one who was a member of the choir for close on forty years and never lost a chance to make a tape recording of anything he considered of interest, and this included almost anything at any time. It is not easy to get at his reason for accumulating what in the end amounted to a bewildering collection of every kind of item that goes into the making of a cathedral service - not only canticles, anthems, hymns and psalms, but the reading of lessons or snippets of sermons. No stone was left unturned to procure the desired catch, and this is probably the chief attribute possessed by John Rothera (1916-1997) which enabled his amassing of things which were of interest to him, which included non-musical things such as ordnance survey maps (of which he had the complete set) countless photographs and even empty Woodbine cigarette packets (collected during his smoking days) and Bovril jars which he could not bear to throw away. This will make it clear that he lived a bachelor existence, and his activities extended far into the not-so-small hours of the night, causing his day to begin around noon, except on Sunday when he had to be roused - usually by a chorister - for the service at 10.30 a.m. His heavy Ferrograph tape recorder was permanently resident at his place in the cantoris choir stalls (where he sang for the whole of his songmanship), and a microphone slung between the two sides of the choir was a permanency for many years until it was pronounced unsightly and had to be removed.
Hence came the enormous welter of things recorded, naturally very varied in quality and always liable to be ruined by a missed lead, a flat or sharp note, coughing or other extraneous interferences but, on occasion, an acceptable or even an inspired performance. But all of them, perfect or not so perfect are the result of a live and meaningful act, not a studio product, all carefully edited, and this, one hopes, can be discerned whatever the quality of performance. Also one would hope for a certain measure of indulgence by any listener who may detect a flaw or two in a piece which was otherwise too good to reject.
It was the policy to use the best of music of all periods in the choir's repertoire, and thus there was always a wide variety of style to feed the interests of the singers. It was also the policy to conduct items which were unaccompanied, but for the choir to look after itself when the organ was used. It is somewhat remarkable then that, unconducted, there was a high degree of unanimity for the most part, as well as inspiration proceeding from the knowledge, understanding and musicianship possessed by the individual choir members.
John Rothera's interests were wide and varied and included taking up Greek at an advanced age under the tutelage of a student at the university who was a choral scholar in the choir. Astronomy was also one of his absorbing subjects, causing him to obtain a telescope which severely restricted his movements in his living room. He also gained permission to ride his bicycle in pedestrian areas of York on the plea of reduced walking mobility. A notice displayed on the cycle proclaimed the fact. He was always liable to make illicit recordings of orchestras, and on one occasion his persistence went too far and his tape was confiscated by the orchestra's manager who had already issued him with a warning.
His eccentricities enlivened the scene wherever he was, and here his set purpose, his determination and staying power have left us with a wealth of material which, after the somewhat herculean task of playing them and choosing, affords us a glimpse of cathedral life and music which is absorbing and unique.
© Francis Jackson, July 2004, East Acklam, North Yorkshire
DR. FRANCIS JACKSON O.B.E.
Francis Jackson, a native of Malton, Yorkshire, was a chorister at York Minster from 1929 to 1933. He was a pupil of Sir Edward Bairstow (1874-1946), organist of York Minster, and gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists with the Limpus Prize for the highest marks in organ playing in 1937. In the same year he graduated Bachelor of Music at Durham University and attained the doctorate there in 1957. He was appointed Organist of Malton Parish Church at the age of sixteen in 1933 and succeeded Bairstow at York Minster in 1946.
Dr Jackson has given organ recitals throughout Great Britain, and in Eire, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark. In addition, he has made several tours of the U.S.A. Canada and Australia.
He has been a frequent broadcaster on BBC radio, and has made many recordings of organ music and with York Minster Choir, whose director he was until his retirement in 1982. He has played concertos with several British orchestras and at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts.
Since his retirement from the Minster he has continued to make many recordings, most of which have been released on CD by Amphion Recordings which is run by Martin Monkman.
Francis Jackson has written extensively for the Church, and his output, in addition to anthems and service settings, includes six organ sonatas, along with many other pieces for the same instrument. His output also includes a symphony and the overture Brigantia for orchestra, together with two monodramas in collaboration with John Stuart Anderson - Daniel in Babylon and A Time of Fire - for speaker, chorus and organ - both works recorded by Amphion, PHI CD 145 and PHI CD 146 respectively. His Eclogue for piano and organ received its first performance at the International Congress of Organists at Cambridge in July 1987. In 1993 he composed two duets for two players, Ballade Op 97 and Suite Montrealaise Op 93, five dances, for performance during the International Congress of Organists in Montreal. A third duet, Colloquy, followed in 1996, since when have come seventeen anthems including one for the service of thanksgiving in Manchester Cathedral for the restoration of the city after the bombing, which was attended by the Queen. A second Evening Service for treble voices, three masses - for New York, Ampleforth and Salisbury - the latter including a brass quintet as well as organ accompaniment. Noteworthy are a setting of the Stabat Mater for baritone solo, chorus and organ which the composer will be conducting at Leeds Parish Church tomorrow evening. Also a Sonatina for recorder and piano and a Trio in three movements for violin, cello and piano for the Klemperer Trio was first heard in October 2001.
In 1961-62 Dr Jackson was President of the Incorporated Association of Organists, and in 1972 held the same office in the Royal College of Organists for a two-year term. He is Honorary Fellow of both the Royal School of Church Music and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1978 he was appointed O.B.E. in the New Year Honours. On retiring as organist of York Minster he received the Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music, the Doctorate of York University and - at the hands of the Archbishop of York (the late Lord Blanch) - the Order of Saint William of York.
In 1996 the Ebor Press of York published Dr Jackson's biography of Bairstow, entitled Blessed City, the life and works of Edward C. Bairstow (ISBN 1 85972 192 0). In 1999 he was the organ soloist for the first commercial recording of his Concerto for Organ, Strings, Timpani & Celesta (1985) and Percy Whitlock's Symphony in G minor for Orchestra & Organ. (Amphion-PHI CD 155). His time is now devoted to composing music and giving recitals. He is Patron of the Percy Whitlock Trust and his Fifth Sonata for Organ was composed in homage to Whitlock during the centenary of his birth in 2003.
Dr. Jackson has recently completed his Sixth Sonata for Organ, written for the famous Schulze organ in St. Bartholomew's Church Armley at its re-opening festivities after restoration last weekend. It was performed by Dr. Graham Barber, professor of music at Leeds University and organist of the church.
The recordings heard on these CDs are taken from master tapes whether from private or commercial sources. The commercial recordings heard at the start of CD One (tracks 1 to 5) were made by E.M.I. and formed part of four boxed collections released in the early 1950s on Columbia 78 r.p.m. records entitled An Anthology of English Church Music from the 15th century to the present day. These recordings were made under the auspices of the British Council and featured 'famous Cathedral and Church Choirs in their place of Worship'. It is worth noting that the listing in the original booklet which accompanied the second series of this anthology states that Rejoice in the Lord alway (track 5, CD One) was performed by New College Oxford, although, it is in fact the York Minster Choir. Columbia got the facts correct on the record label.
The remaining recordings on these CDs are taken from private recordings made between 1956 to 1976 and are live performances made during services at York Minster. Because of the age of these spool tapes very occasionally minor imperfections can be heard, but these are no great distraction. Over fifty spool tapes were copied on to thirty five CDs by the producer and from these the best performances were reduced down to six CDs, from which Dr. Jackson made the final selection. All the recordings have that 'almost could have been recorded yesterday' sound to them, and it is indeed a tribute to the semi professional recording equipment used and their operators that they sound so well all these years later. The tape speed was 71/2 i.p.s. Most of these recordings were made by John Rothera [1916-1997] who was an alto lay clerk in the Minster choir from the early 1950s until he left the choir the same day as Dr. Jackson retired as Master of the Music at York Minster on 2 October 1982. Most of John Rothera's tapes are now in the care of David Rogers of Doncaster, to whom I am grateful for the loan of them. The others who kindly loaned their spool tapes of the Minster Choir were Andrew Carter the well known composer and founder of The Chapter House Choir who sang bass in the Minster Choir from 1962 to 1969 and the Rev. John Roden, who taught at the Minster Song School from 1963 to 1966. I am also grateful to the latter for kindly providing the photographs for this booklet. John Roden is completing a book on the centenary history of this institution which is scheduled to be published at the end of 2004. Finally, my thanks are expressed to Francis Jackson who has given every help and encouragement during this monumental project.
Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings, July 2004