Joseph Nolan

Joseph Nolan: biography

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British-Australian organist and choral conductor Dr. Joseph Nolan has been hailed by ABC Classic FM as ‘an extraordinary musician’, by BBC Radio 3 Record Review for ‘his miraculous playing', by Limelight Magazine as ‘a colossus’ and by Gramophone for his ‘towering technique, vivid virtuosity and inspired interpretive insight’.

Twice nominated for Artist of the Year by Limelight Magazine, Joseph is the first and only organist to have been awarded Limelight’s coveted Recording of the Month for his ninth disc for Signum Records from St Etienne du Mont, Paris, the church and organ of Maurice Duruflé. Joseph has also won Limelight Magazine’s Editor’s Choice award an unprecedented three times for discs in his cycle of the complete organ works of Charles-Marie Widor.

Joseph studied at the Royal College of Music, London, winning the Canon Bark Prize for most promising organ student, and was awarded First Class Honours for his final recital at the Temple Church, London. Scholarships from the Countess of Munster Trust, Hattori Foundation and the Royal Philharmonic Society supported his advanced studies with legendary organists Marie-Claire Alain in Paris and Dame Gillian Weir in London.

Appointed to Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal, St James’s Palace, in 2004, Joseph performed on numerous occasions at Buckingham Palace, most notably giving the opening concert of the refurbished Grand Ballroom organ to a distinguished audience.

Joseph has played in concerts across the globe and made his solo recital debut at Sydney Opera House in the 2017 Sydney Symphony Orchestra Season to great critical acclaim. In July 2019, Joseph returned to to Sydney Opera House, making another debut, this time as a soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (alongside star US mezzo, Susan Graham) under their chief conductor, David Robertson. The concerts received rave reviews in Limelight, The Sydney Morning Herald and ArtsHub Australia who stated that ‘Nolan has an unequivocally refined ear and sensitivity to French repertoire…I have never heard the Sydney Opera House organ sounding better’

Joseph has also performed as a concerto soloist with the Malaysian Symphony Orchestra at Petronas Concert Hall, Kuala Lumpur and with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra at Perth Concert Hall.

Joseph also enjoys a formidable global reputation as a recording artist having recorded ten solo discs for Signum Records — winner of Gramophone’s 2017 ‘Label of the Year’ award on many of the world’s greatest organs. These recordings include the complete organ works of Charles-Marie Widor, with Gramophone and The Australian hailing the discs as ‘utterly authoritative’, Music Web International as ‘The Widor cycle of the decade’, BBC Music Magazine as ‘Swashbuckling’, and Limelight Magazine as ‘Monumental’.

The Nolan/Signum Widor cycle features the finest Cavaillé-Coll organs in France, including those of La Madeleine in Paris, St Sernin in Toulouse and St François de Sales, Lyon. The discs have been awarded innumerable five-star reviews and Editor’s Choice awards in Limelight MagazineGramophone and BBC Music Magazine. They have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and ABC Classic FM amongst many others. Joseph’s career has also been the subject of substantial interviews on Radio National (Australia) and in features within GramophoneChoir and OrganThe Organ and The Australian.

Very notably, Gramophone magazine awarded the final disc in the Widor cycle a Critic’s Choice for 2017, and in May 2019 awarded Joseph's complete Widor cycle benchmark status as ‘the current yardstick for all Widor recordings’. Signum will be releasing a special celebration box-set of the complete organ works of Widor in August 2019.

Gramophone have also hailed Joseph’s most recent disc from St Bavo Haarlem for Signum as a ‘wonderful accomplishment’, with the recording immediately entering the classical charts, a unique achievement for a disc of organ music. BBC Radio 3’s Record Review programme hailed Joseph’s playing on the disc as ‘miraculous and extraordinary’ and Musicweb International named the disk a Recording of the Year 2018, declaring it as ‘possibly the organ disc of the decade’.

Joseph was invited to take up the position of Organist and Master of Music at St George’s Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Under his leadership, the Cathedral music programme has been described as ‘elite’ and ‘world class’ in The Australian and The West Australian newspapers. The Cathedral choirs have regularly performed for ABC Classic, whilst the Cathedral Consort has performed with the Hilliard Ensemble, the Academy of Ancient Music and The King's Singers.

In April 2019, Joseph conducted the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with the St George’s Cathedral Consort in a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. The performance was broadcast live on ABC Classic FM, garnering rave reviews in The Australian and The West Australian newspapers. Limelight Magazine hailed the performance as ‘one of the most technically and musically satisfying performances ever heard’.

Joseph has also collaborated in concert with some of the world’s finest trumpeters, including Alison Balsom, Crispian Steele-Perkins and David Elton, Principal Trumpet of both the London and Sydney Symphony Orchestras.

Joseph was made a Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France for services to French music in 2016 and became an Honorary Fellow of the University of Western Australia in 2013. The University awarded Joseph its prestigious higher doctorate, the Doctor of Letters, in 2018.

Joseph will be returning to the famous church of La Madeleine, Paris, to record the complete organ works of Charles-Valentin Alkan for Signum Records in June 2020.