Borough Organist Dr Gordon Stewart has announced his retirement, after providing over 30 years of world-class music for audiences in Kirklees and across the world.
A World-renowned performer, Gordon has been a regular conductor on BBC’s Songs of Praise as well as a musical director for countless broadcasts on BBC Radio channels.
Also known as a beloved teacher of the arts, his former students have held positions at St Paul’s Cathedral London, Westminster Abbey and Coventry Cathedral to name a few.
Gordon has played hundreds of concerts in Huddersfield Town Hall and pre-covid, his much-loved lunchtime concerts would regularly attract large audiences.
Being part of the Kirklees Concert Season for such a long time, Gordon built a real community with his audience over the years.
2020 has been a difficult year for all, with many live and in-person events cancelled.
However, the partnership between the Lawrence Batley Theatre, The University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Council, has meant Gordon has been able to continue the 2020/21 Concert Season for viewers online.
These online concerts have also been streamed into care homes, allowing even those who may not have previously been able to attend to experience Gordon’s performances.
His final concert, which is set to be full of iconic Christmas music, will be streamed online on Monday 7 December.
This Christmas concert, along with the rest of the online series, will be available to view for free on the LBT’s YouTube channel.
While 7 December will be Gordon’s last official concert, he will return to play a proper farewell concert with a live audience.
There is currently no set a date for this, although it is hoped that it will be sometime in late 2021.
‘A Great Privilege’
Announcing his retirement, Dr Gordon Stewart said: “It has been a great privilege to have been one of the few remaining Civic organists for the past 30 years.
“Saying goodbye to the wonderful Father Willis organ will not be easy, but the Monday Series is still attracting good audiences and I know that the organ is beautifully maintained by Woods of Huddersfield.
“There have been many highlights over the years; the British premier of Andrew Carter’s Organ Concerto and his 80th birthday concert, Poulenc’s Concerto in a concert which included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Huddersfield Choral Society and Orchestra of Opera North, and Christmas concerts with a variety of youth choirs, to name but a few.
“Apart from my concerts, visiting recitalists have come from all over the UK and from France, Germany and the Netherlands, all helping to make the series the success it is.
“Although I will cease to be Borough Organist at the end of the year, once the restrictions are over I will return for a farewell recital and an opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to the audience members and team at Kirklees and the Town Hall who been such a great support over the years.”
Cllr Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Culture and Environment, said: “Gordon is really popular in Kirklees, his concerts at the Town Hall have been a big part of many lives for a very long time.
“He has a real relationship with his audience, always taking the time to talk to them in the foyer at the end of every concert, I know he’ll be missed.
It is wonderful that in these uncertain times Gordon’s music has still been able to be heard by so many, with each of the Online Concert Series having had hundreds of views.
We look forward to welcoming Gordon back to the Town Hall for a proper farewell concert once it is safe to do so.”
Looking to the future, the council want to work with audiences to find a new approach to the Organ Series and the lunchtime concerts in Huddersfield.
The Town Hall’s Father Willis organ will continue to be well looked after until the launch of the 2021/22 Concert Season, hopefully in much better times.