One of the leading concert organists from England, Christopher Herrick has become strongly identified with the organ works of J.S. Bach. His 16-CD set of the complete Bach organ oeuvre on Hyperion Records has become one of the touchstones in that corner of the repertoire. But Herrick is versatile and hardly limited in his choices, as evidenced by his Organ Fireworks recordings for the same label, a technically demanding series that includes a range of colorful works by a veritable hodgepodge of composers that includes Saint-Saëns, Jolivet, Shostakovich, Widor, Mozart, Nielsen, Elgar, Pachelbel, Liszt, Rutter, and many others.
Herrick was born in Bletchley, England, on May 23, 1942. A chorister in his youth, he developed an intense interest in organ playing at 12 when he served as page-turner for St. Paul's Cathedral organist John Dykes Bower. Herrick later studied organ at Oxford University and the Royal College of Music. By his early twenties he was virtuoso organist of the highest caliber.
Herrick served as assistant organist at St. Paul's Cathedral in London from 1967 to 1974, then worked as an organist at Westminster Cathedral for the next decade, all the while regularly appearing in concerts and recitals. In 1984 he left his Westminster Cathedral post to become a freelance concert artist and found immediate rewards. Herrick's first recording, Organ Fireworks, Vol. 1, was released on Hyperion Records that year and achieved critical and financial success. It would be followed by 10 more volumes of Fireworks recordings by 2006, as well as a spate of more serious efforts.
From 1989 to 1999 Herrick recorded Bach's complete organ works on Metzler organs in Switzerland. Critics generally found his work enlightening and original. Often, however, they were even more astonished at his concerts: Herrick played virtually the entire Bach organ output at the Lincoln Center Festival in 14 concerts over 14 days in July 1998, prompting New York Times critic James R. Oestrich to write a rave review using a host of superlatives -- "herculean," "triumphal," "powerful" -- to describe his performances.
In the new century, Herrick has remained active with a busy concert schedule taking him throughout Europe and Scandinavia, to the United States and Canada, and to New Zealand and numerous other locales. Among his later recordings were the 2005 release of Organ Dreams, Vol. 4, and the 2006 Organ Fireworks, Vol. 11, both on Hyperion Records.