If a trip to see Procol Harum in Lulworth is not enough, on the day after the concert, Saturday 8 July at 7.30pm, longstanding Procoholic Will Fraser will give an organ recital in the beautiful village church of St Gregory's in Marnhull, Dorset. Marnhull is about an hour's drive north of Lulworth, a 37- mile journey (60km) through beautiful countryside (route here!). Marnhull is most famous as the home of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (read the novel starting here).
Will intends to play several large pieces by that most procophilic of great composers, Johann Sebastian Bach. There will be the famous Prelude and Fugue in E flat major and the great Fantasia and Fugue in G minor. The lesser-known but equally wonderful variations on the chorale Sei Gegrusset Jesu Guteg, Bach's longest organ work, will fill the programme out with a series of vignettes, each more complex than the last. Bach wrote it when he was about the same age as Gary and Matthew et al were when they penned the similarly ambitious and episodic In Held 'Twas in I. There will be a couple of non-Bach pieces, including Jehan Alain's Litanies, a piece that – though without an immediately obvious relationship to Procol Harum – is a vigorous trip through the style and harmonic sense of France in the early twentieth century.
Will Fraser first saw Procol Harum at Shepherd's Bush in 1995. He struck up an immediate friendship with Matthew Fisher, also a classically-trained organist and alumnus of Cambridge University. In fact, Will twice played for Matthew's original teacher, the late Nicholas Danby. Matthew sat up in the organ loft at Westminster Abbey when Will performed there, and a high point of Will's career was when Matthew drove up to Cambridge to listen to him perform a Bach harpsichord concerto.
Matthew also guided Will through the potentially-disastrous process of buying a Hammond organ, since the road to Hammond-Leslie bliss is strewn with transistor amps and models without authentic tone generators. Will eventually settled for an antique Model AB, 1938, serial number 0003, coupled with a Leslie 145. These are currently housed in his laundry room (see illustration) where, occasionally, Will hikes up the distortion and offers up blistering interpretations of the organ line in A Christmas Camel.
Currently back home in Dorset after almost a decade abroad in the wilds of Nova Scotia and Mississippi, Will sees no better union than the music of Bach and Procol Harum, and hopes that Procol fans will join him for what promises to be a lovely evening.
Tickets are 6 pounds sterling on the door (probably to include a glass of wine), a small price to pay for an evening soaking up fine music and the unspoilt atmosphere of a Dorset village.
Procol dates in 2006
Online booking for Procol Harum at Lulworth Castle