David Briggs (English musician)

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David John Briggs (born November 1, 1962) is an English organist and composer. He started his career as a cathedral organist as Assistant Organist in Hereford Cathedral before becoming the organist of Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals. Heavily influenced by Jean Langlais and Pierre Cochereau, Briggs is regarded as one of the world's finest improvisors, and now works as a concert organist. Briggs is a composer of choral and organ music, and has also transcribed many orchestral works into versions for solo organ, and has also transcribed many of Cochereau's recorded improvisations.

Biography[edit]

David Briggs was educated at Solihull School. He was organ scholar at King's College, Cambridge from 1981-84. At the relatively early age of 17 he was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO). He was also sometime Principal Viola of the National Youth Orchestra.

Whilst at university, he toured Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany with the college choir. In 1983 he received the Countess of Munster Award to study Interpretation and Improvisation with Jean Langlais in Paris, with whom he furthered in his interest in the art of improvisation by his transcriptions of the recordings of the late Pierre Cochereau. Transcribing the remarkable improvisations from Cochereau's cassette recordings took eleven years. Briggs' subsequent performances and recordings of them earned him his initial acclaim. He was also the first British organist to win the Tournemire prize for improvisation at the St Albans International Organ Festival.

On leaving university, he was appointed as Assistant Organist at Hereford Cathedral where he also took over the directorship of Hereford Chamber Choir and Hereford String Orchestra.

He was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers of Truro Cathedral in 1989, before moving to the similar post at Gloucester Cathedral in 1994. While at Gloucester he oversaw the rebuilding of the organ which included the installation of the "Divided Pedal". This allows the Pedal Board to be 'split', meaning the pedal stops sound on the lower section, the upper section can be set to reproduce the sound of any of the manuals. Briggs also oversaw the installation of this system on the Father Willis organ of Truro Cathedral in its rebuild in 1991. In May 2002,[1] Briggs left Gloucester to pursue a freelance career as International Concert Organist and Composer, succeeded for a second time by Andrew Nethsingha.

Briggs is Organist Emeritus at Gloucester Cathedral, and gives regular masterclasses at the Royal Northern College of Music and Cambridge University. He has a busy schedule as a concert artist, composer and organ advisor. He resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He married his second wife, Margaret Nimocks, in 2004, adopting a daughter, and has two daughters from his previous marriage.[2]

He made his debut at the BBC Proms on 14 August 2010 as part of "Bach Day" playing pieces by J S Bach, some originally for organ, others in arrangements, including Briggs' own arrangement of the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068.

Briggs became Artist in Residence at St James Cathedral, Toronto, Canada on 1 September 2012. David’s responsibilities will include giving celebrity recitals, playing regularly at services, composing liturgical music for the Cathedral, and working on the establishment of a vision for the music program including the design and installation of a new organ or organs and relevant acoustical enhancements.

Cultural offices
Preceded by
John Charles Winter
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Truro Cathedral
1989-1994
Succeeded by
Andrew Nethsingha
Preceded by
John Sanders
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Gloucester Cathedral
1994-2002
Succeeded by
Andrew Nethsingha

Compositions[edit]

Choir and Organ[edit]

  • Truro Eucharist (1990), SATB and organ
  • The Music Mountain (1991), SATB, Soprano and Tenor soloists and 2 organs.
  • The Noble Stem of Jesse (1996), SSAATTBB, for Gloucester Cathedral choir
  • When Waters Kiss One Bank (1996), SSAATTBB, for Gloucester Cathedral choir, words by John Donne
  • Holy is the True Light (1997), ATB and organ, Commissioned by RSCM America
  • Jubilate Deo (1998), SATB Soprano solo and organ
  • O Thou Who Art Unchangeable (1999), SATB, tow Soprano soloists and organ. Commissioned by Virginia Wesleyian University, USA
  • Matin Responsary (1999), SSAATTBB for the Gloucester Cathedral Choir
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (2000), SATB, Tenor solo and organ, Commissioned by the Hereford Three Choirs Festival 2000
  • Messe pour Notre-Dame (2002), SATB and 2 Organs, commissioned by the Choir of Keynsham Parish Church, Bristol.
  • The Rising (2003), SATB and Organ (based on an Old Celtic Prayer), commissioned by the Choir of Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Hosanna to the Son of David (2003), SATB and Organ commissioned by the Choir of Kirk-in-the-Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Miami
  • When in our music God is glorified (2003), trebles and Organ (with optional Trumpet), commissioned by the Bristol Cathedral Girls Choir for their 10th anniversary
  • Ave Verum Corpus (2004), SATB, commissioned by the choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh
  • Regina Coeli (2004), SATB, commissioned by St. Mary's Church, Moseley for their 600th Anniversary Year
  • Christ's Peace, Commissioned by the Rosengren family in celebration of 35 years of marriage
  • Music, SATB A setting of the poem by Walter de la Mare. Commissioned by the Britten Singers, Hereford
  • Ave Maria, TTBB and organ, commissioned by the Lay Clerks of Blackburn Cathedral
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis 'The Truro Service' (2004), commissioned in thanksgiving for the life of John Taylour
  • Caedmon's Hymn, SSAATTBB for Carlisle Cathedral Festival
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for Jesus College, Cambridge (2008)
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for St Davids Cathedral (2008)
  • Messe pour Saint-Sulpice (2010), SATB and Organ, commissioned by the Choir of All Saints, Northampton, UK.

Choir and Orchestra[edit]

  • Te Deum Laudamus (1997), SATB chorus, Soprano and Tenor soloists, Full Orchestra. Three Choirs Festival Commission
  • Creation (2000) SATB chorus, Soprano solo, Full Orchestra
  • Te Deum Laudamus (2003), TB Choir, 2 organs, flute, oboe, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, harp and strings. Commissioned for the 150th Anniversary of St Benedict's Abbey, Subiaco, Arkansas
  • St John Passion (2005), SATB, Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass Soloists, Evangelist (tenor), Jesus (bass), organ and orchestra. Commissioned by Kirk-in-the-Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Organ[edit]

  • Marche Episopale (1999), commissioned by the Incorporated Association of Organists
  • Transcription of the Improvised Fugue/Toccata on 'I Vow To Thee My Country' (2000)- improvisation by Briggs at the re-opening recital of Gloucester Cathedral organ. Commissioned by Mark Batten, Organist of the Birmingham Oratory.
  • Variations on 'Veni Creator', (for Organ Duet), commissioned by Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault
  • THEME AND VARIATIONS, for the Worshipful Company of Actuaries. Commissioned by Catherine Ennis, Organist at St Lawrence-Jewry, London)
  • Organ Symphony on Themes from the 'Missa pro defunctiis' for Stephen Farr, Organist of Guildford Cathedral, premiered by him at St David's Cathedral on 3 June 2004
  • Elegy, commissioned in celebration of the 80th Birthday of Patrick Bell, Esq, Cookham Dean.
  • Variations on 'Laudi Spirituali' (2004)
  • Variations on Greensleeves (2005)
  • Trio Sonata (2005)
  • Fantasie (2005)
  • Four Concert Etudes (2005)
  • Berceuse (2006)
  • Mosaique: Sonata for Organ Duet (2008)
  • Sortie on In Dulci Jubilo(2008)
  • Toccata for St Matthew's Day(2008)
  • Hommage a Marcel Dupré (2009)
  • Le Tombeau de Duruflé (2009)
  • The Legend of St Nikolaus(2009)
  • Chorale Variations: Lobe den Herren (2010)
  • Fantasia on Mendelssohn(2010)

Organ Transcriptions[edit]

  • Pierre Cochereau Transcriptions:
    • Suite de Danses Improvisees
    • Triptique Symphonique
    • Cantem toto la Gloria
    • Variations sur 'Venez Divin Messie'
    • Improvisations sur 'Alouette, gentille Alouette'
    • Two Improvisations on 'La Marseillaise
    • Scherzo Symphonique
    • Air ('Trimazo')
    • Gigue ('Compagnons de la Marjolaine')
    • Bolero sur un theme de Charles Racquet
    • Entree (Les offices du Dimanche)
    • Mission Universelle (Improvisations on St Matthew's Gospel)

Other[edit]

  • Fanfare for Wells (2002), for Organ, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones and Cymbals. A 2 minute Fanfare (à la Marcel Dupré!') intended for use immediately before I was glad by C. Hubert H. Parry, commissioned by the Wells Cathedral Voluntary Choir, September 2002
  • Chempinesca (2004), for Piano Duet, in celebration of Beryl Chempin's distinguished teaching career at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
  • Dreamworld: Song Cycle (2005)

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hart, David Little style in unfussy approach, 22 August 2002, The Birmingham Post (www.thefreelibrary.com). Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  2. ^ Weddings/Celebrations; Madge Nimocks, David Briggs, 4 July 2004, New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2010.

External links[edit]