Nine extraordinary meditations by one of the twentieth century’s musical titans, performed on the magnificent King’s College Chapel organ by former organ scholar Richard Gowers.

Written in 1935, La Nativité du Seigneur is one of Messiaen’s most popular organ works, and a piece that helped to establish the then 27 year-old as an important figure in contemporary music. Premiered in February 1936 at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, where Messiaen was organist for more than sixty years, the debut performance was shared between three of his close friends; with Daniel-Lesur, Jean Langlais and Jean-Jacques Grunewald each tackling three movements.

A testament to Messiaen’s devout Catholicism, each movement follows a portion of the Christmas story, from the Virgin Birth to Epiphany, with the number of movements symbolic of the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. Significantly, the work contains early examples of Messiaen’s signature compositional elements, such as birdsong, rhythmic inspiration from Hindustani and Carnatic musical traditions, and the ‘modes of limited transportation’, which he would later publish in La technique de mon langage musical.

Born in 1994, Richard Gowers is a British organist, pianist and conductor. After becoming a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the age of 17, he won first prize at the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition and studied at the Mendelssohn Conservatoire in Leipzig. From 2014 to 2017 he held the distinguished position of organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge and in September 2017 he became Chapel Choir Organist at the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban. His career as a concert organist has seen him perform in prestigious venues around the world, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.