Articles: Obituary: Dr Jennifer Bate OBE
11th November 194425th March 2020
Jennifer Bate was a leading international organ recitalist and recording artist, who combined the disciplines of performance and scholarship in her lecturing and teaching during a long and distinguished worldwide career.
Jennifer became a Patron of CAOS in 2013 and in 2014 gave a lecture and masterclass on the music of Olivier Messiaen (see Past Events section of this website). The organ of St Johns College was chosen for the afternoon class as being sufficiently furnished with the required 16 foot stops on the manuals and also accessible to the students for rehearsal. Jennifer herself undertook two visits in advance to find the best colours for the students chosen repertoire. This absolute dedication to getting the best from the organ, from herself and from her students was a hallmark of her professionalism in every aspect of her career.
Jennifer Bate became widely associated with Messiaens music through her recordings of the complete organ works at Beauvais Cathedral. After meeting Messiaen and his wife Yvonne Loriod during their visit to London in 1975 Jennifer became one of the composers foremost interpreters. She worked closely with him in the first recording of his final and longest organ cycle, the Livre du Saint Sacrement in the composers own church in Paris, la Trinité. She gave the UK premiere of the work in Westminster Cathedral in the presence of the composer to a capacity audience. Her teaching of his works combined an intuitive understanding of the music with an articulate and practical demonstration of how to achieve the most convincing performance on the instrument at hand.
A generous portion of her musical interest was given to early English music with the Stanley to Wesley CD series played on historic organs, and The Wesleys and their Contemporaries recorded at St James Bermondsey. A ground-breaking complete Mendelssohn series released in 2005 included recent research and formerly unknown pieces brought to light in the latest Breitkopf edition.
Her commitment to education and young musicians was most strongly evident in the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy, an annual course for around a dozen girls based at St Catherines School, Bramley in Surrey. Jennifer was very keen that all the disciplines including accompaniment, choir directing, ensemble playing, continuo and improvisation should be part of an organists education. She led a team of tutors in all these disciplines during five days of intensive music-making.
Jennifer will be remembered with great admiration and affection by all those who worked with her, or knew her through the communicative musicianship of her recordings.
Anne Page, May 2020.