No recital is complete without Bach: Ben Markovic on his Bradford Cathedral organ recital

Ben Markovic is the organ scholar at Worcester Cathedral and the third organist at our spring 2020 season of Wednesday@One. We spoke to him about his upcoming organ recital to find out what we can expect from his programme as well as finding out more about his career.

Ben Markovic

You are an organ scholar at Worcester Cathedral?
I’m loving it. It’s an incredible experience to be able to work with such professional people at a high-level day-in and day-out.

Could you give us an introduction to yourself?
I started out as a pianist eleven-or-twelve years ago. I took up the trombone when I started secondary school, and was a junior at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in Central London for a couple of years. It was only in February 2017 that I started playing the organ. I had a friend in the choir at his parish church told me that their previous organ scholar had gone on to Birmingham Conservatoire and he then took up the post at Worcester Cathedral. It was at that point I realized that this was something I could seriously persue.

How did you pick the pieces for your recital?
I wanted to show a range of what the organ can do. I personally think that no recital is complete without Bach so I chose three lesser known of his works. Alongside that I’m going to try and show the more colourful side of the organ with pieces by Whitlock and Rideout, these are probably pieces which people may not have heard before. I’ll be beginning with a piece by Pierné which should blow any cobwebs off the organ!

Do you have a favourite piece to perform from those?
I guess it depends on my mood, but I find whenever I play the Soliloquies they always go down nicely. Although the Rideout rarely played, I think these pieces are absolute gems: very lyrical and interesting harmonically. I think they feel quite removed from what people think organ music is and for that reason, perhaps deserve to be heard more!

Do you enjoy playing something that might be fresh to the audience?
Certainly! I think all people should know what the organ is capable of doing. Not many people truly appreciate the full range of colour and sounds the organ is able to play. It’s an instrument that, in its own way, is an orchestra. I love to be able to show all the individual instruments within that orchestra and what the orchestra sounds like as a whole at various times within pieces and within a programme. ‘New’ pieces, I find, often help achieve this.

You mentioned that you played the trombone; is that something you still do?
I’ve had to put that to the side for the time, as organ playing has taken priority, but it is something that I want to keep doing, and I do the rounds in the local schools whenever they need it!

Have you got any other big plans for 2020?
I’ll be taking up the organ scholarship at Queen’s College Cambridge in October. I still can’t quite believe it! If everything turns out well, I’d really like to explore early music or opera, using skills I’ve learnt as an organist now. Also, I’m looking forward to taking some exams. I’m currently preparing to take my ARCO (in Summer 2020), and having just passed my ATCL exam in Piano Performance with distinction, I look forward to preparing for an LTCL exam in the future.

What attracts you to those styles?
I think it’s the purity. Early music has its own distinct pureness which I don’t feel is quite there in other sorts of music. That’s what attracts me to it!

Finally, as an organist, what do you hope the audience will take away from organ recitals?
I hope they’ll discover something new. I don’t necessarily mean a new piece of music or a new composer, but simply something new – whatever that means to the individual.

Join us for our weekly Wednesday@One Organ Recitals at 1pm, with a lunch buffet available from 12:30pm. Ben Markovic will be playing on Wednesday 29th January 2020. More information on this recital, all others and this season’s coffee concerts can be found in the programme available to buy from the recitals and concerts.

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