One of the leading concert organists of his generation, Anthony Hammond has built his career around making the organ accessible and enjoyable for all.
“We may be hampered by uncomfortable pews and draughty churches but that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy being whisked away to Hollywood for an evening. The organ has a bit of a bad reputation”, he said, when interviewed before the Cirencester International Organ Festival, “… too many people think it’s just about dreary hymns, when really it’s a complete orchestra of sounds that can take the listener on a musical journey.”
Having studied improvisation with David Briggs and Naji Hakim, Anthony is also one of the world’s leading authorities on the improvisation techniques of one of the 20th century’s greatest organ performers, the legendary Pierre Cochereau. Himself known for flamboyant, captivating improvisation, it is little wonder, with influences such as these, that Anthony Hammond now shares the joy of improvisation with audiences around the world.
The night that the Phantom came to Cirencester
This is a collection of excerpts from a performance given in Cirencester Parish Church on 24th March 2012. This was a live, improvised organ soundtrack, by Anthony Hammond, to the legendary 1925/29 silent movie “The Phantom of the Opera”.
To view more videos of Anthony’s performances, click here.
“There is immense artistic diversity in the life of Malmesbury Abbey, but Anthony Hammond’s breathtaking organ improvisations took us to a new and profoundly moving place, and deepened the devotional life of our community during Holy Week. Working with the actor Jason Durr reading the poetic texts of the Staions of the Cross, Anthony employed the full limits of the organ’s capabilities to paint the moods and character of each scene and to depict vivid narrative, from the noise of the crowd to stopping of Christ’s heartbeat. An astounding musician and a gifted communicator.”
(Revd Neill Archer, Vicar, Malmesbury Abbey)
“In October, 2012, Anthony Hammond gave a performance at Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair, New Jersey. In celebration of Halloween, we screened a silent movie, and Anthony provided organ accompaniment. I felt that his playing was excellent: sensitive to the organ and space alike, and immaculately timed to the film itself. He was completely in command, and delivered a very strong, confident performance. I would certainly recommend him.”
(Jonathan B. Hall, Music Director)
“Without doubt the crowning point of the evening was the improvised symphony. The themes were quite disparate, and on first sight I am sure did not lend themselves to easy integration. As a matter of interest I brought along a friend who has taught piano to diploma students for many years, but has organ as his second instrument. After the improvisation he was much reminded of the time in the ’50s when he heard Marcel Dupré improvise at the Albert Hall – and even after all these years that event is still clear in his mind.”
(Alf Fortnam, Secretary – Wiltshire and Bath Organists Association)
“The highlight of the evening was the improvisation. We didn’t know quite what to expect but were absolutely amazed at the mastery with which Anthony handled the two themes.”
(Mike Donkin, Director of Music – Oswestry Parish Church)