Tuning up for birthday celebration

Philip Tordoff pictured at the organ at Halifax Parish Church.
Philip Tordoff pictured at the organ at Halifax Parish Church.

ORGANIST Philip Tordoff, who has been at the keyboards for more than 70 years, is to celebrate a landmark birthday with two recitals.

Philip, of Cleckheaton, began playing the piano at the age of five, and is now organist at Halifax Minster.

He will celebrate his 75th birthday on September 20 playing a recital there, with another the following day at Wakefield’s Westgate Chapel.

Philip first received piano lessons from his father as a child, later changing to the organ. In 1951 while still at Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School, he became organist at Broomfield Methodist Church – with an annual salary of £12!

Four years later he became an Associate of the Royal College of Organists, before gaining an organ scholarship to Downing College, Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists in 1960, again winning a prize for his marks in organ playing.

From 1961 until retiring in 1997, he was the music master at Hipperholme Grammar School and his long connection with Halifax Minster began in 1971 when he was appointed organist and choirmaster.

Giving recitals is almost a way of life for Philip, who has notched up more than 940. He is also a member of the Bradford Trolleybus Association, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and the Campaign for Real Ale.

The programme at Halifax and Wakefield will comprise mainly short items by composers writing in different periods from the 16 to the 20 century. It will include work by Purcell, Marc Antoine Charpentier, Handel, J S Bach, Leon Boellmann, John Stanley and Vaughan Williams.