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York Mystery Plays musician and York Minster organist Allan Wicks has died
A MINSTER organist who was pivotal in reviving York's Mystery Plays has died at the age of 86.
Allan Wicks began his tenure at York Minster after serving with the 14th Punjab Regiment in India during the Second World War and studying at Christ Church College, Oxford to which he had previously won an organ scholarship. While at Oxford he was organ scholar and assistant to Dr Thomas Armstrong at Christ Church Cathedral He joined York Minster as sub-organist in 1947 under Francis Jackson, who had been made organist the previous year. While in the city he directed the specially-commissioned music for the revival of York's Mystery Plays for the 1951 Festival of Britain. He was also on the music staff at St Peter's School and was chorus master of Leeds Philharmonic Society.
In an interview, he described his role at the Minster as easier than it later became.
He said: “In those days it was easier to manage on one's own, because we never used to conduct, except a cappella pieces, we never conducted like cathedral organists now who hardly ever play the organ, they're down there wagging a finger, waving their arms about.”
Christened Edward Allan Wicks, he was born in Skipton on June 6, 1923. Initially he learned the piano but swapped to the organ as a teenager.
He once said: “I began life as a pianist, but not professionally, and it gradually came borne in upon me that I was not going to be able to make a living out of piano playing because I was not good enough at the age of, shall we say, seven to make the big jump.” When he went to school, he was advised to change to the organ. “At the age of 14 I wasn't in the position to argue the point, so I did,” he said.
Following his position at York he moved on to be organist and choirmaster at Manchester Cathedral before moving in 1961 to Canterbury Cathedral as organist and Master of the Choristers. He stayed there for almost 30 years and served under threee archbishops, eventually retiring in 1988, the same year he was made a CBE.
Mr Wicks died on January 20, 2010. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and two daughters.
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