FRANCIS Jackson will be 100 in October. Ryedale Festival got in early with its centenary tribute to one of Ryedale’s most illustrious sons, with a recital given in his presence by five organist colleagues and admirers. All five spoke eloquently of their regard and reverence for Jackson, both personally and as an organ virtuoso, leaving no doubt about his far-reaching influence.

Philip Moore, Jackson’s successor at York Minster, played his intelligent and characterful variations on Jackson’s famous hymn tune East Acklam. Gordon Stewart performed a lucid chorale prelude in slow, flowing triple time, written recently (aged 98) by Jackson for the Orgelbüchlein Project.

Robert Sharpe’s registration for the Largo from Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 5 was charmingly colourful; Thomas Wrench presented the unpretentious Pray To The Lord by Jackson’s some-time student, the film composer John Barry. John Scott Whiteley performed Jackson’s Toccata, Chorale and Fugue—an exciting tour de force both compositionally and for the player—communicating its contrapuntal and technical wizardry and moments of serene reflection. Although some of the music called for a more resonant acoustic, the intimacy of St Mary’s suited the event’s character.

The evening closed with congregational singing of East Acklam, for which Jackson himself played the organ with trademark re-harmonisations. He explained that he hadn’t liked the setting in the hymn book of God That Madest Earth And Heaven (the tune Ar Hyd y Nos) and thought he could do better: He was right, and it prompted an affectionate ovation.