Awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2020, Thomas Trotter is among the world’s most celebrated organists and has elevated the tradition of the virtuoso organist to new heights.
As Birmingham City Organist since 1983, and only the seventh post-holder since the position was created in 1834, he has had a major influence on Birmingham’s musical life. On Friday 6 October, B:Music, the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall, will host a concert which celebrates this remarkable 40th anniversary with a typically captivating programme.
The evening will feature Baroque brilliance in Bach’s Great Fantasia and Fugue; fiendish difficulty for both hands and feet in Edwin Lemare’s transcription of Wagner’s Overture to Rienzi; and Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue, based on music from Meyerbeer’s opera Le prophète, which made an emphatic case for the organist as a concert performer, not solely a church musician.
The post of City Organist was created in 1834, and popular weekly recitals started ten years later. In his 40 years in post, Trotter has commissioned many exciting new works and the Symphony Hall audience can expect a suitably celebratory piece from Cheryl Frances-Hoad. Her Celebration Fantasia marks this special occasion by picking out ten great Birmingham moments from the past 40 years, from the opening of Selfridges to the inauguration of the Symphony Hall Organ.
Cheryl Frances-Hoad commented: “I was delighted when Thomas Trotter asked me to write a piece for his 40th Anniversary concert and wanted to write a work that really celebrated this milestone.
“The main melodic motive is based on the notes of Thomas’s name, and each section is inspired by an aspect of Birmingham’s history over the last 40 years. The opening section is called ‘1983: Thomas Trotter becomes Birmingham City Organist’ and we end in the present, with the grandest statement of the ‘Thomas Trotter’ theme, inspired by the 40th anniversary concert.”
For the last forty years, Thomas Trotter has presented a regular lunchtime organ concert series to enthusiastic concertgoers in Birmingham. During that time, he has been on quite a journey within the two iconic venues of Town Hall and Symphony Hall.
From 1983 to 1996, the regular concerts were held at Town Hall before it closed for eleven years for refurbishment, reopening in 2007 with a spectacular new look. The refurbishment also meant that the acoustics in Town Hall improved considerably, and consequently the organ now sounds far better, arguably the best it has ever sounded in its 189-year history.
In 1991, Symphony Hall was built without an organ, but in 2001 a magnificent new organ was installed, and now Trotter gives concerts at both Symphony Hall and Town Hall.
Thomas Trotter commented: “Choosing just one highlight from my forty years is difficult, but the first highlight for me was when the Town Hall organ was first refurbished in 1984.
“I gave the reopening concert in October 1984, which was my first big concert as Birmingham City Organist. Another highlight would be the opening of the Symphony Hall organ in 2001.
“But my heart always returns to Town Hall, and the reopening of Town Hall in 2007 was incredibly special. I played an afternoon and evening concert back-to-back for the reopening.
The Hall was packed, and it marked my homecoming. It was wonderful!”
Celebrate Thomas Trotter’s 40th Anniversary as the Birmingham City Organist on Friday 6 October at Symphony Hall.