Composer Francis Jackson at 100
Robert Gower (Cathedral Organist) writes:
I have known Francis Jackson since my student days and got to know him more closely when he agreed to become Patron of the Percy Whitlock Trust which I established in 1982. His work as a cathedral organist is well documented in 'Music for a long while', an autobiography of 2013, in which his considerable achievements as a performer and composer are set out with characteristic modesty and good humour. Visits to his home in East Acklam (now famed for its eponymous hymn tune) have been a consistent delight over the years: the photo was taken there last February. The house has a splendid westward view across the vale of York, looking beyond the lush greenery of its garden, still keenly tended by Francis himself. On its north side is a music room modelled on the Ravel's studio (Ravel being a key musical influence), complete with a small tracker action organ and piano on the ground floor, whilst a gallery houses the music library.
Francis's compositional work continues to fill his daily schedule. Of the pieces I have been fortunate enough to commission from him, two more recent works stand out - the March Salutatio Episcopalis, composed for the ordination in 2015 of the Rt Revd Patrick McKinney as 10th Bishop of Nottingham, and a hymn tune 'Ebberston' (the Yorkshire home of Francis's father), written earlier this year for a text shortly to be used here in the Cathedral. Francis also arranged the organ accompaniment of Gerald Finzi's Requiem da Camera which was sung at St Barnabas in 2015. An eloquent prelude on SS Wesley's tune 'Hereford' (sung to Charles Wesley's words 'O Thou who camest from above') which Francis wrote in 2013 immediately following the death of his devoted wife Priscilla is included in an OUP album of manuals only music for Lent and Easter, to be published in November.