The city of Hereford is situated in the west midlands of England, fairly close to the border with Wales and is the county town of Herefordshire. The region is relatively sparsely populated (by UK standards) and the county is predominantly known for its agricultural produce with many fruit orchards keeping the local cider makers in business. The Hereford breed of cattle is probably the county’s most famous export and today Herefords are found in the US, South America and Australia.
The Cathedral itself dates from the 11th century and is dedicated to two saints, Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Ethelbert the King - the latter having been beheaded nearby in the year 792. The chief treasure at the Cathedral (aside from the Father Willis organ of course !) is the celebrated Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is a mediaeval map of the world dating from 1300. Of the 1100 or so Mappae Mundi still in existence, the Hereford map is the largest example remaining in the world today. The Cathedral also possess a copy of the Magna Carta which dates from 1217 - this document is one of the forerunners of modern day British constitutional law.
In common with more or less every Cathedral in England, music plays a hugely important role in Cathedral life. During term time, the Cathedral choir sings at three services each Sunday and there is a Choral Evensong every day except Wednesday. The organ plays a key role in this and is therefore first and foremost a liturgical instrument with duties ranging from delicately colouring Anglican chant to leading a full Cathedral. However, regular organ recitals and recordings also take place and many distinguished recitalists have performed at Hereford.
For further details of the Cathedral and its history, please visit the Cathedral’s excellent website, which also contains some impressive 360 degree virtual tours.
Sampling the Hereford instrument and processing the recordings for use in Hauptwerk is a great privilege and I would like to extend my thanks to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral for granting permission. In particular I am grateful to Geraint Bowen, the Cathedral Organist and Director of Music for his support and encouragement, to the Cathedral Administrator Christine Field for her help and especially to the Cathedral’s wonderful team of vergers - Tim Pryse-Davies, Stephen Guy, Andrew Wynn-Mackenzie and Lyn Smith - for whom nothing was too much trouble.