Recordings From The ‘70s To Today : John Balsdon

Some of you may know that John Balsdon, is a keen recording enthusiast and that he has been recording the choir and organ of the cathedral since he was at school! John has compiled a CD which includes Anthems, Psalms, Canticles and organ playing from the Richard Latham, Andrew Millington and Mark Blatchly eras, with such gems as Wesley’s Wilderness, Turn thee unto me O Lord, Blair in B minor, the voice of Dean Seiriol Evans, John Sanders playing Widor’s Toccata and Lang’s Tuba Tune on the Harrison organ (courtesy Janet Sanders) and ends with Adrian Partington playing the Fantasia and Fugue by Stanford The photo shows John Sanders at the Console in 1972. A wonderful glimpse of the cathedral’s musical heritage! These CDs will be available through donations the Gloucester Cathedral Old Choristers’ Association for £10.00.

In 2012, John established a commercial recording label, Willowhayne Records, which features uniquely talented artists and noteworthy instruments. His first release was of Keith John (Gloucester Chorister 1962-1967) playing the Gloucester organ, which received Editor’s Choice in the Organists Review and three other five-star reviews.

John is also involved with many schools, recording their choirs and orchestras. To be released shortly will be the international concert pianist Dominic John (Keith is Dominic’s father), playing virtuoso piano music from Busoni to Gershwin. Later this year, a third release will feature the Hill organ in Cape Town Cathedral. Details can be seen at and if you wish to obtain Old Chorister discount, contact John directly at

Gloucester Cathedral Music on the Internet

I recently became a convert to ‘YOUTUBE’, and this has opened up an incredible amount of new musical interests! I discovered that I could listen and even download performances of virtually any genre of music and classical music most comprehensively. I find YOUTUBE fascinating, as it can take you on a journey with all sorts of twists and turns. For those not conversant with YOUTUBE, it is very simple to operate in that once you have accessed the webpage there is a dialogue box and all you need do is to type in the subject or individual etc. that you are interested in. For instance, if you typed in ‘Elgar Symphonies’, up would come a list of dozens of recordings of the various symphonies. If you typed in just ‘Elgar’ then a myriad of references to his music would appear. You can then hit on these references and listen to the particular recording. Quality varies though. Many are excellent, some are very scratchy, this all being due to the original source and the method used to lift the clip onto YOUTUBE. The sources of these recordings are from old vinyl discs, tapes, broadcasts etc. If you want to download any recording there are a number of free software programmes that will do the job for you very simply and at no cost. Thus it is possible to build up a comprehensive musical library at no cost!

After I had become more used to using YOUTUBE, I commenced on researching Gloucester Cathedral and its music. Just typing in ‘Gloucester Cathedral’ brings up a list of video recordings and the first I saw was one described as a video tour of the Cathedral accompanied by organ music by Samuel Wesley, one time organist at Gloucester.Returning to the original list, one can see performances of Evensong by the Gloucester Choir, also the 3 Cathedral Choirs etc. There are also recitals by various organists on the Gloucester Organ. In the course of my further research, I decided to see what references there were for Herbert Sumsion, the Cathedral Organist in my day. I was pleased to find quite a few recordings of Sumsion at the Gloucester Organ, notably the complete Elgar Organ Sonata – Click here for this recording. A very interesting performance. Sumsion did, of course, know Elgar well and nobody would be better qualified to know what the composer intended. Another recording made by Sumsion was on the original Harrison Organ of the Wesley Choral Song. A piece that I remember being played frequently when I was a chorister. The marvellous sound of the 32ft Double Open Wood is nerve tingling!

A book could be written on the recordings and videos available on YOUTUBE, but the best way is to go there yourself and see where it might lead you!

David Arnold : Chorister 1951-1955