Devizes Festival: Paul Searle-Barnes at St John's Church

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Paul Searle-Barnes Paul Searle-Barnes

Paul Searle-Barnes’s choice of programme put the organ in St John’s Church, Devizes, through its paces in a performance which was enthusiastically received by the lunchtime audience on Saturday.

An accomplished musician, who became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the age of 22, Searle-Barnes has played in many churches and cathedrals and so was completely at home and in command of the instrument.

His lively keyboard technique and interpretation of contrasting music by a wide variety of composers - from J S Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor to Schubert’s gentle Ave Maria – showed off the organ’s range of sound perfectly.

Among other works in the hour-long recital was the delightful Eight Pieces for Musical Clocks by Joseph Haydn, which called for nimble fingers, and John Stanley’s popular Trumpet Voluntary.

Searle-Barnes closed with the Toccata from Widor’s 5th Symphony, now often played at weddings but far from universally known until Princess Margaret had it at her ceremony in 1960 – just one of the interesting, and sometimes amusing, snippets of information provided in his introductions to each item.

JANE SCORER

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