In Conversation With… the Scott Brothers Duo

May 11, 2022
May 11, 2022 Michelle

Next month sees the launch of Ripon Cathedral’s Summer Organ Festival, one of the highlights of our 1350th anniversary year. On the evening of  June 21 we welcome back to the cathedral the internationally acclaimed Scott Brothers Duo. With Tom on piano and Jonathan playing the organ, their YouTube channel has attracted more than 46 million views; it’s a double act which uses animations to draw its audience into the world of classical music and will see the premiere of  A Cathedral’s Story. On the afternoon of June 21 the brothers are holding a free family concert/workshop introducing young people both to the organ and to classical music. 

Here they talk about their forthcoming visit to Ripon…

You’ve played in venues all over the world – how does Ripon Cathedral compare and what does playing here mean for you?

Tom: It’s just a fantastic space. We have performed here before alongside animations and it’s a space that works really well for this combination. we’ve got to know it so well and there is so much to discover, it’s just a special place to perform in.

Jonathan: In lockdown we recorded an on-line concert at the cathedral which was great, the organ is fantastic and we had over 100,000 views for that, so it’s just brilliant to be able to share that instrument with everyone. The organ will go down to a whisper, which you can hardly hear – right up to the point where you can probably hear it down the road, so it’s an absolutely huge range of sound but the proximity of where Tom sits means the audience hear the piano really well. They are such amazing instruments, the power and sound they produce, but normally that’s the use of them in a cathedral – they play for the choir, some very quiet playing and sometimes to accompany the entire congregation singing as loud as they can.

 

We love the animation ‘A Cathedral’s Story,’ specially commissioned for our 1350th anniversary – tell us what you hope this will convey?

Tom: I’ve spent thousands of hours working on this and it’s been really interesting to do the background research in to how everything was and is now, from the Anglo Saxon monastery to the church built by Wilfrid that became Ripon Cathedral. I hope it will give a real sense of a journey through time on which people can go, bringing that story to life and offering a glimpse of history, of something being created.

Jonathan: We have performed in concert halls all over the world, with orchestras and it’s great to have this sense of such a wide range of age groups watching animation and listening to live music.

 

 

 

Are you looking forward to taking part in this year’s Summer Organ Festival?

Tom: Yes!! Well it’s wonderful to be part of this. Music plays a huge part in the life of the cathedral, it’s got wonderful instruments, a wonderful musical heritage, so it’s fantastic just to be a part of that. It’s called ‘A Cathedral’s Story’ – the animation – and the idea behind it is that if you go to Ripon Cathedral you become part of the cathedral’s story; for me and Jonathan to perform there we just feel that we are becoming a part of the history of Ripon Cathedral in that musical sense.

 

Over 300 schoolchildren from the region are coming to hear you play at Ripon Cathedral on the afternoon of June 21 – how important is this aspect of what you do?

Jonathan: It’s important that children are exposed to going to a concert, I think that’s the main thing… hearing instruments that you might not normally hear. I mean these days, on TV, you don’t get people giving organ recitals or piano recitals so people aren’t going to be exposed to it readily. It’s the fact that they can come and hear a cathedral organ – actually they may have never seen a cathedral organist play because they are up in an organ loft – they may see the pipes but not know how it works. The first thing in the children’s concert that afternoon is one of Tom’s animations about how a pipe organ is built and that’s part of our tour; it introduces children to what a pipe organ is, so it’s a great way of showing them the instrument. We hope it will also encourage those who come to learn to play a musical instrument – if you don’t ever see one being played why would you have any interest? So basically people can see an instrument and make their own decision about it – whether they want to hear more or even learn to play it!

Tom: The response is always very positive and it’s just a really nice atmosphere. With the school children I think the visual element really helps them connect with the music but there are also times when we will just play a piece of music – I will introduce it and they will just listen. The main thing is that they enjoy going and listening to a live concert featuring classical music. I think that’s really really important, so that in the future they have that sense that it’s enjoyable – it’s about creating a positive musical experience for them. You’ve seen my animations, they’re quite humorous and it’s great when the children are all laughing together in a concert, it’s good fun!

 

For anyone who hasn’t heard the Scott Brothers Duo what should they expect on the evening of June 21?

Jonathan: It’s brilliant classical music – pieces that they will know! In the evening concert we are doing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – Tom’s doing the solo piano part and I’m taking the whole jazz band/orchestra part on the organ; there’s Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which people will know and of course Clair de Lune by Debussy; Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture and of course A Cathedral’s Story. They are all just pieces of music which the audience will instantly know. People are sometimes wary of the organ as an instrument because they think it will be serious and imposing church music, however it can sound just like an orchestra or produce something you would hear on a film soundtrack. The concert is just really well known pieces of music, performed in what is really an intimate setting but with this huge instrument, surrounded by this huge space. As Tom was saying with the animation, when the children watch it they often laugh all the way through but when we perform with them for the adults they often laugh aswell and get different things from it, so there’s no sort of age boundary – for me – it’s just music to be enjoyed by all ages – whatever their musical tastes might be!

 

I understand that the combination of piano and organ was popular in the 20s and 30s, can you tell me about that and how it has influenced you today.

Tom: This was very popular in America and France, the organs used to be upstairs away from everything but with electric action consoles (connected to the organ pipes) you could put the mobile console downstairs and you can sit next to each other and balance the sound. Everyone thinks the organ will drown out the piano because it’s large and dominating but of course it can be soft and quiet.

Jonathan: I suppose the main element is that you can see us both, so I am not sat upstairs hidden away in an organ loft. Tom and I have performed at cathedrals where I am at the back and he is at the front and we have to try to co-ordinate, which is always a little more difficult than at Ripon but on this occasion we are at the front with a huge screen above us which will show the hands on the keyboards, so you can see us really close up and we’ll be sat in front of you! The piano is right next to the organ console and with this electric action console we can actually interact because we can see each other, the audience can see us and they can also see us on a screen. You’ve got this huge, huge space with a big acoustic and a massive instrument but it’s also very intimate because we are both in this little space just in front of the audience, almost like a recital hall – with the sound produced magnified!

 

Tickets for the Scott Brothers Duo on June 21 and other concerts in our Summer Organ Festival, which begins on June 7, are available on our website. 

7.30pm Evening Concert
SCOTT BROTHERS DUO
Jonathan Scott ORGAN
Tom Scott PIANO

Brothers Jonathan & Tom Scott present an unmissable concert of duos for piano and organ,
demonstrating the full range of sounds and colours available from this brilliant combination, in the
stunning setting of Ripon Cathedral. Their programme includes popular classics, such as The
Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, as well as Tom Scott’s new animation and
music “A Cathedral’s Story”, which tells the story of Ripon Cathedral, from Anglo-Saxon beginnings
to the present day, all accompanied by organ, piano and animation!

PROGRAMME
Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) arr. Scott
Overture to The Barber of Seville
Tom Scott (b.1981)
A Cathedral’s Story (Celebrating 1350 years of Ripon Cathedral)
Paul Dukas (1865-1935) arr. Scott
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) arr. Scott
Clair de Lune (Suite Bergamasque)
George Gershwin (1898-1937) arr. Scott
Rhapsody in Blue

——————————————————————–

1.30pm Afternoon Family Concert with piano, organ & animation
A special family concert performed by Scott Brothers Duo (Brothers, Jonathan & Tom Scott)
featuring piano, and the magnificent organ of Ripon Cathedral, accompanied by Tom Scott’s
award-winning animations on the big screen.

PROGRAMME
Tom Scott (b.1981)
How a Pipe Organ is Made
Tom Scott (b.1981)
A Cathedral’s Story (Celebrating 1350 years of Ripon Cathedral)
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-81)
Pictures at an Exhibition

 

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