Recognised as "one of the brightest and most active English recitalists" who "plays with immaculate finish and buoyancy" (Classic CD), Stephen Farr is widely regarded as one of the finest organists of his generation, with a virtuoso technique and an impressive stylistic grasp of a wide-ranging repertoire. He combines a busy freelance playing career with the posts of Director of Music at St Paul’s Knightsbridge in London, and ACE Foundation Director of Music at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
One of the youngest musicians ever to receive support from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Stephen Farr studied with Robert Munns and David Sanger in London and Cambridge. A subsequent grant from the Worshipful Company of Musicians (W.T. Best Scholarship) enabled him to receive tuition from Piet Kee in Haarlem and Hans Fagius in Copenhagen. In 1984 he became Organ Scholar of Clare College Cambridge, where he obtained a double first in Music and a Master’s degree in Musicology. Posts at Christ Church Oxford and Winchester Cathedral preceded his appointment in 1999 as Organist of Guildford Cathedral, a position which he held until 2007.
Since winning the Royal College of Organists Performer of the Year in 1988 and prizes at international competitions in Odense, St Alban’s and Paisley, Stephen Farr has enjoyed recognition as a solo performer at international level, with appearances in North and South America, Australia – including a concerto performance in Sydney Opera House – and throughout Europe.
He maintains a regular broadcast presence, and as a recitalist has featured frequently in the main series of the major venues in the UK – among them St Paul’s Cathedral (where he has appeared twice in the Celebrity Series), Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, King’s College Cambridge, St David’s Hall Cardiff, St John’s Smith Square, Symphony Hall Birmingham, the Bridgewater Hall, the St David’s Festival, the Chester Festival and the Fairfield Halls. Other recent venues include La Trinité and Notre Dame in Paris and the Laurenskerk, Alkmaar. He is a frequent visitor to Scandinavia, and to Denmark in particular, where venues have included the Odense Bach Festival (Domkirke and Sct Hans), Århus Domkirke, Helligaands and Jesuskirke Copenhagen, the new Aubertin organ of Mariager Kirke, and many others. In 2009 he appeared with the Danish Radio Choir under Stephen Layton in a live televised concert which formed part of the opening ceremonies for the new van den Heuvel organ of the radio concert hall.
His concerto work has included engagements with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and the London Mozart Players; he made his debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2005. He also works frequently as a continuo and ensemble player with many other leading ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic (with whom he appeared in the première of Jonathan Harvey’s Weltethos under Sir Simon Rattle), Bach Choir, Holst Singers, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, English Concert, Polyphony, Philharmonia, London Baroque Soloists, City of London Sinfonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Wallace Collection, Endymion Ensemble, Academy of Ancient Music, Britten Sinfonia and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Stephen Farr has a particular commitment to contemporary music, and has been involved in premieres of works by composers as diverse as Patrick Gowers, Francis Pott, Robert Saxton and Howard Goodall. He also collaborated with Thomas Adès in a recording for EMI of the composer’s Under Hamelin Hill, part of an extensive and wide-ranging discography. He made his BBC Proms solo debut in 2011 in a concert which Classical Music magazine selected as one of its premieres of the year, performing a major work – The Everlasting Crown – which was written for him by Judith Bingham.
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