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John Scott Whiteley (Organ)

Born: January 1, 1950 - Leicester, England

The English organist, John Scott Whiteley, gained an organ scholarship at London University and received his BSc there in 1971. He and then studied at the Royal College of Music with Ralph Downes and W.S. Lloyd Webber, winning the Turpin Prize for performance in the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists. This led to him being awarded scholarships to study with Flor Peeters in Malines and Fernando Germani in Siena. He was PhD Candidate at the Leeds University.

John Scott Whiteley was sub-organist at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 1973-1975. In 1976 he won the National Organ Competition of Great Britain for his playing of J.S. Bach's Clavierübung and in the same year moved to York Minster where became Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls’ Choir. Currently he is Organist there, a post that has entailed his playing for at least one service there every day. He made his debut at Royal Festival Hall in London in March 1983 playing Bach in the formally well-known 5.55 series and met withwide acclaim. In 1982 he Formed York Piano Duo. Whiteley combines his busy schedule with recording and touring He has performed extensively as a solo recitalist, playing in most major UK Cathedrals and concert halls, and has twice been selected to give the major organ recital for the UK Annual Conference of the Incorporated Association of Organists. Between September and November 2000 he gave a performance of the complete organ works of J. S. Bach in York Minster. In 2000 he also gave a recital for the Royal College of Organists where he was elected a member of the Council. A recent recital at Birmingham Symphony Hall has led to an invitation to present a further Bach concert in 2010. In the UK he is represented by Paul Vaughan Artists.

John Scott Whiteley has performed at festivals throughout Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Poland, Switzerland, Germany and Italy), including the 1998 Musicometa Festival in Rome, the 1998 Brussels International Organ Week (Semaine d'orgue Internationale), the 2005 International Organ Festival in St Albans, the 2006 Musicometa Festival in Rome, and the 2008 Bach Festivals in Skiernewice, Poland, and Camaiore, Italy. In May and June 1985 he undertook his first tour of the USA which included an appearance at St Patrick's Cathedral, New York City, and Salt Lake City's Mormon Tabernacle. Between 1985 and 2005 he toured the USA annually, represented by the highly respected agency, Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. In 1988 he also toured Australia.

His numerous recordings (23), several of which have received a number of accolades, include: The Organ at York Minster, Volumes 1 and 2; several records with the Choir of York Minster; Great Romantic Organ Music (Hearne 1986); Cathedral Windows (The Organ of York Minster) (Priory 1987); Haarlem Grote Kerk (1988); Hadersiev (DK 1989), Music of Prague and Vienna; The Dupré Legacy and The complete organ works of Joseph Jongen. He has recorded Bach at Haarlem for Priory records. His CD, Great Romantic Organ Music, appeared for eight years in the Penguin Good CD Guide as one of the best recorded organ recitals, ans some of his albums have received a number of accolades in The Gramophone. His recording of the complete organ works of Joseph Jongen won a 1993 Critic's Choice Award, and his recording at St-Ouen, Rouen, of the newly discovered organ symphony by the former organist of Notre-Dame de Paris, Pierre Cochereau, was released in 1999 in commemoration of the centenary of the death of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. More recently he has joined the team of transcribers of Cochereau's improvisations, engaged by the Belgian publisher, Chantraine. He has appeared on BBC radio programmes as: Choral Evensong in 1978-1979 and 1983-1986, on Record Review in 1979, on Choirs of Britain in 1983-1984, on Sunday Half Hour, and on Songs of Praise. He has been broadcast many times also by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, West German Radio and the American Public Radio Network on the esteemed nationwide programme, Pipedreams, which transmitted a complete programme of his playing in 1999.

John Scott Whiteley was chosen to perform the complete organ music of J.S. Bach for BBC2 and BBC4 television after two complete performances he gave in 2000 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. The first series took place atYork Minster and was among the first in the world to present J.S. Bach's music in attempted chronological order. "21st-Century Bach" was thena joint commission by BBC2 and BBC4, and is planned to run for several years, during which time some 80 programmes will cover J.S. Bach's entire output for organ. The series was described by the daily national newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, as "a triumph both visually and musically." In 2003 he began recording the complete organ works of J.S. Bach on historical organs (many associated with J.S. Bach) for BBC television and Associated-Rediffusion television productions. The project began showing in sections on BBC Two and BBC Four. The first two DVD volumes (about a quarter of the total) were released in April 2006, and series 3 is completed and awaiting transmission. Organs used include the restored Zacharias Hildebrandt instrument of St Wenzels church in Naumburg (Hildebrandt Organ (1746)), and St Boniface's Church (the "Bachkirche") in Arnstadt. The series employs unusual filming techniques, including the use of miniature cameras and mirrors inside the organs' mechanisms, and a floating camera filming from unusual viewpoints. The organist is shown quietly walking to the instrument in the empty church, and quietly walking out again when he has finished. The titles were designed by Damien Hirst and the tonmeister is John Warburton.

John Scott Whiteley was Professor of Organ at Hull University from 1978 to 2003. He is also an organ tutor, examiner and composer. He has given organ master-classes on the music of both Franck and Jongen. Recently he gave master-classes and adjudicated at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He is an examiner for the Royal College of Organists, having been a member of the councilfor over ten years. He has also appeared as a lecturer and organ demonstrator for the Incorporated Association of Organists. He has also assisted with organ design projects from time to time. These include the 1992/4 rebuild of the organ of York Minster.

As a composer John Scott Whiteley has written organ music, anthems and church music, as well as several instrumental pieces, among them: Anthem, Jesu Redemptor Omnium (1983); Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (York Service) (1984, published Banks); 2 Anthems (1991). Some of these, including one of his most recent organ works, Fantasia espansiva (written for Dr. Francis Jackson's 80th birthday), have been broadcast on BBC Radio Three. He has also recently transcribed the 1963 Symphonie improvisée by Pierre Cochereau.

John Scott Whiteley has researched and written a book about Belgian composer Joseph Jongen (published by Pendragon Press of New York), which has been described as "a benchmark against which similar studies should be measured". He has also published a book about J.S. Bach. Other publications: Editor. For Manuals Only (8 pieces for organ) (1982); Jongen J: Petit Prelude (1973), Jongen J: Four Pieces (1983); Editor. Jongen: Mass Op. 130 (1990). Contributor To: Musical Times; Organists Review; Magazine of AGO, USA. He is a contributor for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He is an editor for Oxford University Press and Banks, and one of his editions recently received the award of a US editors' competition, the Don Malin Award. He is Associate of the Royal College of Music, and Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

John Scott Whiteley married Hilary Elizabeth Holte Cox on August 3 1974 and has 2 sons.

Source: International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Editio, 1992/93); Wikipedia Website, York Minster Website; Guild Music Website; Liner notes to the 2-DVD album "21st Century Bach - Complete Organ Works Volume 1" (Signum, 2009); Amphion Recordings Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2009)

John Scott Whiteley: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

York Minster: The Organists
John Scott Whiteley - Organ (Guild Music)
John Scott Whiteley (Signum Records)
The Grand Orchestral Organ John Scott Whiteley (Amphion)

John Scott Whiteley (Wikipedia)
Facebook: John Scott Whiteley

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