Simon Preston made his debut at the
Royal Festival Hall in London in March 1962, performing the organ solos in
Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass. But before
that, devotees of the annual Christmas Eve broadcast from King’s College
Cambridge of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols had heard Simon Preston
accompanying the Choir from the Chapel, where he had been a chorister as a boy,
and where he returned later as Organ Scholar.
Shortly after his London debut Mr. Preston was appointed Sub-Organist of
Westminster Abbey, and later that same year appeared for the first time at the
Henry Wood Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. During that period he worked under many
famous conductors, including Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Monteux, Leonard
Bernstein and Benjamin Britten. In 1965
he made his first tour to the United States and Canada, and by the time he left
Westminster Abbey in 1967 Mr. Preston was
already an internationally acclaimed artist.
In 1981 he was appointed Organist and
Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, where his work with the choir
received great acclaim. He directed the
music at the Royal Wedding of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew in 1986, and was
responsible for writing much of Salieri’s music in the movie Amadeus.
Since leaving Westminster Abbey in
1987 he has continued to pursue an active career as a highly sought-after
concert organist. He recorded the Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony
with the Berlin Philharmonic and James Levine, the Poulenc Organ Concerto with
the Boston Symphony and Seiji Ozawa, and the Copland Organ Symphony with the
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin. Since his first tour in 1965, Simon Preston
has been a regular visitor to the United States, often appearing as a
guest artist at conventions of the American Guild of Organists as well as tours
that have included most of the States in America. The New York Chapter of the AGO named him International
Performer of the Year for 1987.
description in a Vienna
newspaper recently of Simon Preston
as “a living legend” serves as a reminder that his recording career began
nearly fifty years ago with the performance of a Gibbons Fantasia on a King’s
disc. There are currently nearly fifty
of his CDs still available, including versions of the Handel Organ Concertos
with both Yehudi Menuhin and Trevor Pinnock, and Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto as harpsichord soloist, as well
as many recordings with the choirs of both Westminster Abbey and Christ Church,
Oxford. In 1971 Mr. Preston was awarded
an “Edison Classique” for his recordings of Messiaen’s Les Corps Glorieux and Hindemith’s Organ Sonatas. The recording of Handel’s Coronation Anthems
with the Westminster Abbey Choir conducted by Simon Preston was awarded a “Grand
Prix du Disque” in 1983. In October of
2000 Deutsche Grammophon launched his complete recording of Bach’s organ
works. Classic CD recently named Mr.
Preston in its list, “The Greatest Players of the Century,” that included the
entire classical music world.
Current as of September 2007