Summer Organ Festival: Livre du Saint Sacrament with Tom Bell

September 1, 2024 | 5:00 pm
St Edmundsbury Cathedral

A rare chance to hear one of the great organ works of the twentieth century in an epic performance by one of the UK’s leading concert organists, Tom Bell, of Olivier Messiaen’s monumental Livre du Saint Sacrament. This is extraordinary music which will be brought to life on our magnificent Harrison & Harrison organ, which was partly designed with Messiaen’s music in mind. Includes an explanatory talk from the performer before the concert.


Free to attend, but please book here.

The recital starts at 5.00 pm and there will be a retiring collection.


Tom Bell’s playing has been described as “invigorating” (Sunday Times), “compelling” (Organists’ Review) and “brilliant” (American Record Guide). Tom has built a vibrant portfolio as a performer, teacher and animateur. He has performed across Europe, in Australia, the Far East and the USA. Tom’s recordings have been broadcast and won praise internationally. His highly acclaimed recording Freak Out! (Regent 2021), was described in The American Organist as “remarkable…a masterclass”, and in BBC Music Magazine as “in equal parts brilliant and a bit bonkers”. “Beyond dispute”, continues The American Organist, “is Bell’s grand vision of organ music.”


Tom has a reputation as an innovator, collaborating with poets, dancers, visual artists and folk musicians. His work with Richard Brasier pushes the boundaries of organ duo. An ardent proponent of new music, Tom has premiered many new works including chorale preludes for the Orgelbüchlein Project and a cantata by Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon. Tom pioneered the combination of organ and beatbox, performing with Shlomo on BBC Radio 3 and at the Royal Festival Hall. In May 2019, with William Whitehead, John Scott Whiteley and Laurens de Man, Tom participated in the first complete performance of the Orgelbüchlein Project at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. The 164 pieces took four organists, and five organs, nine hours to perform. A similar marathon in London in 2023 received international press attention. Tom participated in a performance of Jean Guillou’s nine-organ epic, La Révolte des Orgues, at Westminster Cathedral; he returned to that place in April 2022 to perform Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement. Messiaen’s music is one of Tom’s two principal preoccupations at present: he has a Messiaen vlog on YouTube, and a film project is currently being crowdfunded by Fugue State Films. By contrast, another current interest concerns a study of English nineteenth century performance practice, particularly the work of W. T. Best. This project encompasses academic writings, and pure fun in his costumed quasi-steampunk The Best Experience concerts.


Tom regularly teaches on courses for young organists, and gives masterclasses internationally. His students have held prestigious positions across the UK. Organist to the renowned Organworks project from 2007-2017, he continues his educational work as a Director of the RCO. Tom is Artistic Director of the London Organ Day, a patron of the Society of Women Organists and is a member of the Association of Independent Organ Advisers. He was taught by Kevin Bowyer, Jacques van Oortmerssen and Ann Elise Smoot.