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Christopher Herrick (born 23 May 1942) is an Englishmarker organist.

Early life

Born in Bletchleymarker, Buckinghamshire, Christopher Herrick was a boy chorister at St Paul's Cathedralmarker and attended its choir school; he sang at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and later that year went with the choir on a three-month tour of Americamarker which included a private concert in the White Housemarker and a meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. At the age of 12, he was inspired to learn the organ after Sir John Dykes Bower, organist of St Paul's, asked him to accompany him to the cathedral organ loft to turn pages for him for a BBC recording. His response to Herrick's aspiration to become a concert organist was not encouraging: 'Well... I suppose it might be just possible to be an organist giving concerts, with no permanent church appointment - but even Thalben-Ball has a city church.' He later attended Cranleigh Schoolmarker, where he was able to continue his organ study.

Student days

From 1959 to 1962, he held an organ scholarship at Exeter College, Oxfordmarker, where he studied music. Following this, he obtained a Boult scholarship to study at the Royal College of Musicmarker. His interests expanded to the harpsichord. 'The harpsichord had also fascinated me, and Millicent Silver became my professor [...] From a historical point of view, of course, everything about her approach was wrong. But the experience of working with her gave me a vivid taste of an unknown world.' He studied organ privately with Geraint Jones at the time he was discovering the German mechanical instruments with straight pedal boards. He studied conducting with Sir Adrian Boult.

Professional career

Malcolm Russell, one of London's principal suppliers of harpsichords, was an early neighbour, and Herrick was able to acquire a Dulcken harpsichord on permanent loan. This led to the formation of the Taskin trio (violin, viola da gamba, harpsichord), playing baroque music on period instruments. He has performed Bach's complete Well-Tempered Clavier on the harpsichord at London's South Bankmarker.

He was assistant organist at St Paul’s Cathedralmarker from 1967 to 1974. He became an organist at Westminster Abbeymarker in 1974, and was sub-organist from 1979 to 1984, playing at royal and state occasions and giving over 200 solo recitals there in that time. In 1984 he embarked upon a solo career as a concert organist and toured worldwide. He gave the solo organ concert in the centenary season of the Proms in 1994.

He has recorded the complete organ works of J. S. Bach on Metzler organs in Switzerlandmarker; on 16 CDs. It was a gradual undertaking:

In 1998, he was invited to perform Bach's complete organ works at the Lincoln Centermarker Festival in New York; he played fourteen concerts on fourteen consecutive days on the Kuhn organ in Alice Tully Hallmarker. A critic from The New York Times wrote: 'Mr Herrick was at the peak of his considerable form, combining precision with panache, interpretive freedom with sheer joy in virtuosity. The playing was, in a word, triumphant.'

In 1984 he met Ted Perry, the owner-director of Hyperion records and proposed an album of virtuosic repertoire, on the Harrison & Harrison organ of Westminster Abbey. This has led to the Organ Fireworks series, virtuosic and spectacular music, well-known and rare, recorded on great organs all over the world, which is on its 12th volume.Recordings in the Organ Fireworks and Organ Dreams series of recordings:

Organ Fireworks

Fireworks I

Westminster Abbey organ

Joseph Bonnet: Variations De Concert Op 1; Alexandre Guilmant: Grand Choeur Triomphale In A Major Op 47, No 2; Alexandre Guilmant: March Upon Handel's 'Lift Up Your Heads' Op 15; Percy Whitlock: Fanfare From 'Four Extemporisations'; Herbert Brewer: Marche Heroique; Marius Monnikendam: Toccata; David N. Johnson: Trumpet Tune In D Major; Charles Marie Widor: Finale (Allegro Vivace) From Symphony No 7; Simon Preston: Alleluyas; Egil Hovland: Toccata 'Now Thank We All Our God'

Fireworks II

Royal Albert Hallmarker organ

Edward Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 In D Op 39 (Arranged By Edwin Lemare);Derek Bourgeois: Serenade Op 22; Joseph Bonnet: Elfes Op 7 No 11;Edwin Lemare: Concert Fantasia Op 91 (Improvisation On 'The Sailor's Hornpipe', 'The British Grenadiers' And 'Rule, Britannia');Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély: Sortie, Bolero De Concert Op 166;Alexandre Guilmant: Fantalsie Sur Deux Mélodies Anglalses Op 43 ('Home, Sweet Home' And 'Rule, Britannia');John Weaver: Passacaglia On A Theme By Dunstable ('The Agincourt Song');Edwin Lemare: Scherzo;Jean Langlais: Incantation Pour Un Jour Saint

Fireworks III

St. Eustache organ, Paris

Lemare: Marche Héroïque In D Major, Op 74;Enrico Bossi: Scherzo In G Minor, Op 49 No 2;Batiste: Offertoire In D Minor;Edwin Lemare : Concert Fantasy On The Tune 'Hanover', Op 4;Marcel Dupré : Cortège Et Litanie, Op 19 No 2;Jolivet: Hymne A L'univers;Louis James Alfred Lefebure-Wély: Marche In F Major, Op 122 No 4;Dubois: Grand Choeur In B Flat Major;Bossi: Pièce Héroïque In D Minor, Op 128;Camille Saint-Saëns : Allegro Giocoso In A Minor, Op 150 No 7

Fireworks IV

St Bartholomew's Church organ, New York

David N. Johnson: Trumpet Tune In A;Edwin Lemare: Toccata Di Concerto, Op 59;Dudley Buck: Concert Variations On 'The Star-Spangled Banner', Op 23;Alexandre Guilmant: Paraphrase: 'See The Conqu'ring Hero Comes!' From '18 Pièces Nouvelles', Op 90;Percy Whitlock: Paean (No 5 Of 'Five Short Pieces');Derek Bourgeois: Variations On A Theme Of Herbert Howells, Op 87;Louis Vierne: Divertissement, Op 31 No 11 (From '24 Pièces En Style Libre');Edouard Batiste: Grand Offertoire In D;Dmitri Shostakovich: Passacaglia;Joseph Bonnet: Etude De Concert (No 2 Of 'Douze Pièces Nouvelles', Op 7);Charles-Marie Widor: Allegro From Symphony No 6, Op 42;Louis-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély: Sortie In E Flat, From Book II Of 'L'organiste Moderne'

Fireworks V

Turku Cathedral Organ, Finland

Jehan Alain: Litanies;Jean Sibelius: Finlandia, Op 26 No 7 (Arr H A Fricker);Bjarne Sløgedal: Variations On A Norwegian Folk Tune;Henri Mulet: Carillon-Sortie;Oskar Lindberg: Sonata In G Minor, Op 23;Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Fantasia In F Minor, K608;Louis James Alfred Lefebure-Wely: Marche In C Major (L'organiste Moderne, Book 12);Carl Nielsen: Commotio, FS155 (Op58);Edward Elgar: Pomp And Circumstance March No 4 In G, Op 39

Fireworks VI

Organ of Wellington Town Hall, New Zealand

Alfred Hollins: A Trumpet Minuet;Edward Elgar: Sonata In G, Op 28;Herbert Sumsion: Ostinato (Introduction And Theme);Norman Cocker: Tuba Tune;Paul Spicer: Kiwi Fireworks: Variations On 'God Defend New Zealand';Craig Sellar Lang: Tuba Tune;Edwin Lemare: Concertstück No 1 In The Form Of A Polonaise, Op 80;Richard Wagner: Overture To 'Die Meistersinger' (Arr. Lemare, Westbrook, Herrick)

Fireworks VII

Organ Of The Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland

David N. Johnson: Trumpet Tune In F;Alexandre Guilmant: Deuxième Offertoire Sur Des Noëls, Op33;Gaston Litaize: Variations Sur Un Noël Angevin;Joseph Bonnet: In Memoriam - Titanic, Op 10 No 1;Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Improvisation: 'Nearer My God To Thee', Op 81;Julius Reubke: Sonata On The 94th Psalm;Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély : Offertoire Pour Le Jour De Noël;Johann Pachelbel: Prelude On 'Vom Himmel Hoch';Garth Edmundson: Toccata 'Vom Himmel Hoch'

Fireworks VIII

Organ Of The Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Edwin Lemare: When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Encore Series No 27);Edward Elgar: Imperial March Op 32 (Arr. George C Martin);John Knowles Paine: Concert Variations On The Austrian Hymn Op 3 No 1;Franz Liszt: Prelude And Fugue On BACH S260 (First Version, 1855);Petr Eben: Moto Ostinato From Sonntagsmusik;Max Reger: Variations And Fugue On 'Heil Dir Im Siegerkranz' (God Save The King);Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Fantasia In F Minor And Major K594;Hector Berlioz: Rákóczi March From La Damnation De Faust (Arr. W T Best);Maurice Duruflé: Prelude And Fugue On The Name Alain Op 7;Enrico Bossi: Étude Symphonique Op 78;Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wely: Sortie In B Flat (L'organiste Moderne, Book 8)

Fireworks IX

Organ of Berne Cathedral, Switzerland

Patrick Gowers: Occasional Trumpet Voluntary;Béla Bartók / Christopher Herrick: Six Romanian Folk Dances, SZ56;J S Bach / Max Reger: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV903;Sverre Eftestøl: Seven Allegorical Pictures based upon the Norwegian folktune 'Kling no, klokka';Jean Langlais : Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes, Op 5;William Wolstenholme: Bohemesque;Noel Rawsthorne: Line Dance (from Dance Suite);Charles-Marie Widor: Toccata (from Symphony No 5 in F, Op 42 No 1)

Fireworks X

Létourneau Organ

Mons Leidvin Takle: Blues-Toccata (B1942);John A Behnke: Siyahamba ‘We Are Marching In The Light Of God’;Henri Mulet: Tu Es Petra Et Portae Inferi Non Praevalebunt Adversus Te;John Rutter: Variations On An Easter Theme: ‘O Filii Et Filiae’ (Duet with Jeremy Spurgeon);David N. Johnson: Trumpet Tune In G;Maurice Duruflé : Toccata From Suite Op 5;Joseph Bonnet: Matin Provençal No 2 From Poèmes D’automne Op 3;Iain Farrington: Celebration From Fiesta!;Iain Farrington: Stride Dance From Fiesta!;Giacomo Meyerbeer: The Anabaptists’ Choral From Le Prophète;Franz Liszt: Fantasia And Fugue On ‘Ad Nos, Ad Salutarem Undam’ S259

Fireworks XI

Lay Family Concert Organ (C B Fisk Organ Company Opus 100), Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas

Aaron Copland: Preamble (For A Solemn Occasion);Edwin Lemare : Marche Moderne Op 2;Leos Janácek: Organ Solo From Glagolitic Mass;Jean Langlais: Battle Hymn Of The Republic From American Folk-Hymn Settings Op 231;John Behnke: Go Tell It on the Mountain;David German: Festive Trumpet Tune;Matthias Nagel: Danke-Swingfüglein;Eugène Gigout: Grand Chœur Dialogué;Alexandre Guilmant: Choral Et Fugue From Sonata No 5 In C Minor Op 80;Mons Leidvin Takle: Festmusikk From Våg Å Leve;Charles-Marie Widor: Marche Américaine Op 31 Arr. Marcel Dupré;Iain Farrington: Fast Dance From Fiesta!;Hans-Martin Kiefer: Blues Chorale: ‘Die Ganze Welt Hast Du Uns Überlassen’;Joseph Jongen: Sonata Eroïca Op 94;

Fireworks XII

Marcussen organ of Haderslev Cathedral (recorded Easter 2007)

Petr Eben: Hommage à Dietrich Buxtehude;Dieterich Buxtehude: Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne in C major, BuxWV 137;Dieterich Buxtehude: Prelude in G minor, BuxWV 148;Marcel Dupré: Prelude and Fugue in G minor;Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Passacaglia and Fugue on BACH;Louis Vierne: Carillon de Westminster;Johannes Brahms: 'Academic Festival Overture' (arr. Edwin Lemare);Niels Gade: Festive Prelude on "Lover den Herre"Josef Rheinberger: Fantasia on Tonus PerigrinusA contrasting series called Organ Dreams, of more tranquil repertoire, has reached its 4th volume.

Organ Dreams

Dreams 1

Organ of The Temple Church, London

Julius Benedict: March Of The Templars Op 56 (Arr. W T Best);Henry Walford Davies: Solemn Melody (Arr. J E West);William Spark: Jerusalem The Golden ('A Favourite Hymn Tune With Variations And Finale');Antoine Édouard Batiste: Offertoire In G Major;William Lloyd Webber: Prelude (No 1 Of Three Recital Pieces);Jean Langlais : Thème Et Variations (No 7 Of Hommage A Frescobaldi Op 70);César Franck: Choral No 1;Paul Spicer: Dreams Of Derry;Ludwig van Beethoven: Adagio In F Major Wo033 No 1;George Thalben-Ball: Elegy;Edward Elgar: The Angel's Farewell (From The Dream Of Gerontius) (Arr. Brewer);Charles-Valentin Alkan: Prière In E Major Op 64 No 11

Dreams 2

Organ of Ripon Cathedral

Théodore Dubois: In Paradisum (No 9 of Douze Pièces Nouvelles);Frank Bridge: Adagio in E major (No 2 of Three Pieces, H63);Alexandre Guilmant: Rêve (from Organ Sonata No 7 in F major, Op 89);Edward Elgar: Vesper Voluntaries Op 144;Herbert Howells: Siciliano for a High Ceremony;Robert Schumann: Study in A flat major Op 56 No 4;Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings (arr. William Strickland);Franz Liszt: Évocation à la Chapelle Sixtine S658;Samuel Wesley: Four Pieces from Twelve Short Pieces and a Full Voluntary: No 5 in A minor, No 8 in F major, No 9 in F major, No 11 in D major

Dreams 3

Organ of Truro Cathedral

Edwin Lemare: Andantino In D Flat Op 83 No 2 (‘Moonlight And Roses’);Albert Ketèlbey: In A Monastery Garden (Arr. Hugh Ware);Sverre Eftestøl: Dance To Your Daddy;Oskar Lindberg: Gammal Fäbodpsalm Från Dalarna;Carl Nielsen: From 29 Little Preludes FS136 (Op 51): No 3 In E Major, No 11 In G Major, No 15 In A Major, No 27 In F Sharp Minor, No 28;Alexandre Guilmant: Marche De Procession Sur Deux Chants D’église Op 44 No 3;Herbert Howells: Rhapsody In D Flat Op 17 No 1;Percy Whitlock: Folk Tune From Five Short Pieces;Johannes Brahms: Eleven Chorale Preludes Op 122

Dreams 4

Organ of St Nikolai, Halmstad, Sweden

Charles-Marie Widor: Marche du veilleur de nuit (‘Wachet auf!’) (No 4 from Bach’s Memento);César Franck: Prélude, Fugue et Variation Op 18;Samuel Sebastian Wesley: Andante in E flat major (No 3 from A Second Set of Three Pieces for Chamber Organ);Maurice Duruflé: Sicilienne (from Suite Op 5);Harvey Grace: Reverie: ‘The God of love my Shepherd is’ (No 8 of Ten Compositions for Organ);Charles-Valentin Alkan: Prière (No 5 of Treize pièces Op 64; arranged by César Franck);Herbert Sumsion: Air, Berceuse and Procession;Alexandre Guilmant: Choral: Was Gott thut das ist wohlgethan (No 1 of Chorals et Noëls Op 93);Franz Liszt: Variations on Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen

Other recordings include Louis-Claude Daquin's Noëls on the restored 1739 Parizot organ in St Rémymarker, Dieppemarker, and 2 CDs of music by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck on a copy of the 17th-century organ of Stockholmmarker's German church, now in Norrfjärdenmarker in northern Swedenmarker. He utilised historically informed performance practice, including original fingerings, not using the thumb very much, which caused some difficulties: "only when I went in for physical therapy did I finally adapt." He has also recorded Josef Rheinberger's suites for organ, violin and cello.

In 2007, he commenced work on a five year project to record the complete organ works of Dieterich Buxtehude.

He lives in Kingston-upon-Thamesmarker where he is able to play the large Frobenius organ of Kingston Parish Church. Aside from organ playing, he has conducted the Twickenhammarker Choral Society for nearly 30 years.


  • Stanley Webb: 'Herrick, Christopher', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 2007-05-06), />
  • Malcolm Bruno: Interview with Christopher Herrick, Choir & Organ (May/June 2002)
  • The Wall Street Journal, Personal Journal, Time Off/Backstage: Christopher Herrick (29 October 2004)

Notes and references

  1. The Glories Of Bach, From Grand To Playful, by James R. Oestreich; The New York Times; July 15, 1998
  2. Bach as Mountain Range, by James R. Oestreich; The New York Times; July 28, 1998
  3. All Saints Kingston - The Frobenius Organ

External links

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