Bach’s Mass in B minor
Some personal reflections by our conductor, Dr Simon Lindley
Simon Lindley’s first experience of the Mass in B minor was as a small boy hearing the work under the direction of Sir Thomas Armstrong in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre; that account made an impression undimmed through the years and only very rarely exceeded in the impact it created upon him.
Student days in London, and early in his professional career at St Albans and Tilford, he came to know the work especially well as répétiteur to the famous Tilford Bach Festivals and from a number of memorable performances with St Albans Bach Choir under the direction of legendary Bach interpreter Dr Peter Hurford OBE.
Since conducting the work for the first time well over a quarter of a century ago, Dr Lindley has presided over at least thirty performances of the piece and played harpsichord and/or organ in at least a further two dozen accounts.
He regards the Mass in B minor as, arguably, the greatest musical work ever written and agrees whole-heartedly with the widely held assertion that the piece comprises the most magnificent posthumous legacy left by any composer.
Simon is Conductor of Sheffield Bach Society and of Doncaster Choral Society. He is also Music Director of St Peter’s Singers – the acclaimed chamber choir based at historic Leeds Parish Church where rehearsals are held weekly on Sunday evenings.
Since the mid-1970s he has served in the West Riding in a diversity of musical capacities – principally as Organist of Leeds Parish Church and, as City Organist, as Curator of the Organ at Leeds Town Hall.
During the 70s and 80s, he worked for extended periods as Chorus Master to Leeds Philharmonic Chorus under Meredith Davies and Halifax Choral Society with Dr Donald Hunt; Simon is now a Life Vice-President of both choirs and also Honorary Life Vice-Patron of Doncaster Choral Society. In December 2011 he was made an Honorary Life Member of Colne Valley Male Voice Choir.
Simon also conducts Overgate Hospice Choir in Halifax and Leeds College of Music Choral Society.
As an organist, he is busy equally as soloist, continuo and orchestral player, and accompanist. His recent concerts have taken him to many prestigious venues within the past few months including the Cathedrals of Bradford and Liverpool, Bridlington Priory, St Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London, the Royal Parish Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, the Parish Churches of Bury, Grimsby and Chesterfield and, notably, at the National Musicians’ Church [St Sepulchre-without-Newgate – the Church of the Bells of Old Bailey in the children’s song – where Simon is Churchwarden and Chairman of the Friends of the Musicians’ Chapel].
This term, additional to weekly recitals at Leeds Parish Church on Fridays in January and April, he gives special concerts to the Edinburgh Society of Organists and accompanies acclaimed soprano Sally-Ann Shepherdson at a lunchtime concert in Leeds Town Hall; he is also the Organist for the Parish Church Choir’s performance of Lloyd Webber’s The Saviour on the Monday before Easter.
On the national musical canvas, Dr Lindley has served in turn as President of the Royal College of Organists and of the Incorporated Association of Organists. In his capacity as a long-serving director of the English Hymnal Company, he is Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Music Trust.