A NEW assistant organist has started work at York Minster - and says he feels "excited and daunted".

Adam Wilson spoke to The Press after taking up his new role this week (August 21).

He’d been spending some time reconnecting with an historic building he remembers from a week spent as a teenager singing in a touring cathedral choir.

Adam said: “Buildings like York Minster have always left an impression on my memory.

“When I think about music and everything that I do, they’re such a massive part of my life.”

York Press: Evidence of the continuity of the post currently held by Robert SharpeEvidence of the continuity of the post currently held by Robert Sharpe (Image: Kevin Glenton)

Having arrived just as the minster’s programme of summer recitals concludes, Adam awaits his first formal appointment with the console of its grand organ.

Part of the attraction for him was the continuity attached to the role of director of music, a post currently held by Robert Sharpe since 2008.

Adam said: “There have only been five of him, different people obviously, since 1897.

"It's a legacy that most places in the country, let alone the world, couldn’t argue that they have.

“That tradition, wanting to step into that, is something that really attracted me to York, apart from the amazing organ and the fantastic space.”

York Minster’s grand organ was recently subject to a ‘once in a century’ refurbishment of its 5,403 pipes, which range in length from the size of a pencil to 10 metres long.

The instrument is one of the largest in the country, weighing approximately 20,000kg.

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The scale of the Minster itself was also not lost on Adam.

He said: “There’s a lot to learn, particularly when you’re new.

“You have to learn how to play the building.

“There’s an old organist’s saying, ‘the best stop on the organ is the building’.

“You learn how to play the building and the acoustic and then you learn how to play for the biggest services.

“The building changes depending on where you are – the choir will have a very different sound, much more intimate.

“Whereas in the nave it will be a much grander and bigger sound.

“For the biggest occasions, when there’s a packed knave, the building feels very different.

“That will be a very imposing thing to start to get used to.

“But I think just the sheer weight of history of the building.

“It’s celebrating its fourteen-hundredth anniversary in four years.

“The sense that you’re walking into a living history is really quite daunting, but also exciting.”

For his audition, Adam said he played from the Prelude in G by Bach and the Prelude in G minor by Brahms.

He said Bach is very sparky, almost like chamber music on the organ but the Brahms is very dramatic, overpowering and overwhelming.

Learning to sing and play the organ at Dunblane cathedral where he grew up, his education took Adam to the University of Glasgow for four years via its Batchelor of Music course of study.

He worked as organ scholar in the chapel there which he said was a gorgeous space, a reflective space much like the choir in York Minster.

Adam made his way to the Minster from St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh where he trained as organ scholar, then joined Peterborough Cathedral as organ scholar.

He went back to Edinburgh and then down to Wells Cathedral, where he was assistant director of music and principal organist to the cathedral choir.

Adam said of his time working in the different locations, reaching its current zenith in York: “They all have different feelings and they all leave different imprints.

York Press: Adam Wilson, York Minster's Assistant Organist, in front of the minster's Grand Organ pipesAdam Wilson, York Minster's Assistant Organist, in front of the minster's Grand Organ pipes (Image: Kevin Glenton)

“Wells has been a gorgeous place to be and the music there is renowned as much as York is renowned for its music and its building.

"But this is definitely a place to come that’s busy, there’s a certain level of pressure that comes with every service, rather than Wells, where it’s quite a sleepy town.

“Wells gets lots of tourists and lots of peak seasons and you get lots of people who are retired musicians, so you’re around a lot of people who know about music.

“But it’s a small place, being England’s smallest city (outside the City of London), so you don’t really get the same sense.

“Whereas coming to York, it feels as grand as it looks.”