William Saunders: Organist

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William Saunders is one of Britain’s leading young concert organists, with an extensive schedule that includes many distinguished venues across Europe. He tours Germany annually and has performed recitals in including Hamburg and Cologne Cathedrals and the St Marien Church in Lübeck. His musical activities in the United Kingdom have included performances at the Cambridge Summer Music and Oundle International Festivals, and he has also accompanied the Kings Voices, the mixed-voice chapel choir of King’s College, Cambridge and Aldeburgh Voices, a choir established by Benjamin Britten.

William has also released several critically acclaimed albums featuring Romantic and modern English music, with Gramophone Magazine commending his technique for its “rhythmic vitality” and his “athletically inclined” playing.

William is currently accepting recital engagements. Get in touch to discuss a booking.

watch & listen

Toccata on ‘O Filii et Filiae’ by Lynnwood Farnham
Performed on the 2010 Harrison and Harrison organ of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Suffolk, England.
Lynnwood Farnam (January 13, 1885 – November 23, 1930) was a Canadian organist who became the preeminent organist in North America in the 1920s until his death. He was influential in promoting the music of Bach, and also championed French organ music contemporary to his day.
Moto Ostinato from Sunday Music by Petr Eben
Performed on the 2010 Harrison and Harrison organ of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Suffolk, England.
Petr Eben (1929 – 2007) was a Czech composer and organist. Many musicians think of him as the most important Czech composer of the late 20th century. He was known world wide for his organ playing and he was especially good at improvisation. Eben continued during his lifetime to develop the style of music in which he wrote; he was interested in Czech folk music and wrote down many folk songs that he heard in Moravia, plus he listened to plainchant in church music. All this helped him to develop his own style of composition.
Fanfare by John Cook
Performed on the 2010 Harrison and Harrison organ of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Suffolk, England.
John Cook was born at Maldon, Essex on 11 October 1918. After leaving St. John’s School, Leatherhead, he entered Christ’s College, Cambridge as an organ scholar where he came under the influence of Hugh Allen and Boris Ord. In 1949 Cook was appointed as Organist and Choirmaster at Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon where he served for five years before accepting a similar post at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Ontario.
Cook left Ontario in 1962 to claim the coveted post of Organist and Choirmaster at Church of the Advent in Boston.
Country Gardens by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performed on the 2010 Harrison and Harrison organ of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Suffolk, England.
Percy Aldridge Grainger (born George Percy Grainger; 8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist who lived in the United States from 1914 and became an American citizen in 1918.

sample programmes

Triumphant Organ – Music for the Town Hall
Alfred Hollins – Concert Overture in C major
Percy Whitlock – Balloon Ballet
Edward Bairstow – Allegro Giocoso from Sonata in E Flat
Handel arr. Loret – Organ Concerto In D Minor Opus 7, No. 4 (Adagio / Allegro / Improvisation / Allegro)
Ad Wammes – The Messenger on the Hill from Interludes for organ
Mozart arr. Scott – Overture to the Marriage of Figaro

Animal Parade by Iain Farrington
​Movements: Entrance, Giraffes, Barrel organ monkey, Hippopotamus, Critics, Blue whale, Sparrows, Penguins, Cheetah, Piranhas, Alley cats, Exit

A wild and wacky depiction of ten familiar animals, from the tallest to the fastest, the biggest to the nastiest. Hear the roar of the cheetah, the miaow of the alley cat and feel the massive weight of the blue whale. This affectionate caricature of wildlife explores the unusual characteristics of these creatures in a thrilling and entertaining assortment of organ effects. The work includes an optional narration with brilliant and witty verses for each animal. This virtuoso piece is to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Glorious Pipes – dedication of a new organ
Alexandre Guilmant – Grand Choeur in D
Ernst arr. JS Bach – Organ Concerto in G major BWV 592 (Allegro / Grave / Presto)
Christopher Steel – Changing Moods Suite Op. 59 (Genial March / Pensive Ground / The Chase / Nocturnal Siciliano / Dancing Toccata)
Felix Mendelssohn – Organ Sonata No.5 in D major (Andante / Andante con moto / Allegro)
Alexandre Guillmant – March up Handel’s “Lift up your heads”

French Fireworks – The Symphonic Organ
Pierre Cochereau, trans. Jeremy Filsell – Scherzo Symphonique
Maurice Duruflé – Méditation
Charles-Marie Widor – Symphony in G minor (Allegro / Adagio / Intermezzo / Cantabile / Final)

William with his daughter

biography

William Saunders is one of Britain’s leading young concert organists, with an extensive schedule that includes many distinguished venues across Europe. He tours Germany annually and has performed recitals in including Hamburg and Cologne Cathedrals and the St Marien Church in Lübeck. His musical activities in the United Kingdom have included performances at the Cambridge Summer Music and Oundle International Festivals, and he has also accompanied the Kings Voices, the mixed-voice chapel choir of King’s College, Cambridge and Aldeburgh Voices, a choir established by Benjamin Britten.

William’s organ repertoire is varied, but he particularly enjoys performing Romantic and modern English music, which has led to the production of a number of critically acclaimed CDs in recent years. The Gramophone commends his technique for its “rhythmic vitality” and his “athletically inclined” playing.

William’s passion for inspiring youngsters and providing an unparalleled music education led to him holding the post of Director of Music at The Royal Hospital School in Suffolk between 2012-2019. He was responsible for a dynamic music department that undertook in excess of 80 concerts and services per year. These ranged from informal lunchtime concerts to those which attracted audiences of 800+ paying members of the public. Recent highlights have been working with the BBC Big Band, the Swingle Singers, National Youth Choir of Great Britain and forming partnerships with HM Royal Marines Training Band and Royal College of Organists. In addition, William has directed a number of highly successful ensembles including the Holbrook Choral Society; highlights included conducting The Dream of Geronitus by Elgar with 250 singers. He directed the Chapel Choir at The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at The Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the royal family, which was broadcast live on BBC radio and television. He established the Sing Up Suffolk event which involved 800 primary school children annually to the school with the primary aim of making singing fun and accessible. Between 2020-2021 he had oversight of the music department of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Other conducting activities include his directorship of the Prometheus Consort, a choir that regularly leads the worship at St Paul’s Cathedral when the resident choir are on holiday, and the Buriensi Consort, a professional vocal group.

Before 2012 William was Assistant Director of Music at Ipswich School where he founded and directed the annual Festival of Music. He has also held the position of Organist at St Mary-le-Tower Civic Church, Ipswich and Deputy Organist at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

An interest in fast cars, good food and keeping fit ensure he is kept busy even when not engaged in music!

Read more about William and hear further examples of his work here.

bookings

For bookings or further information please contact us here.