British-Australian organist and choral conductor Dr. Joseph Nolan has been hailed by ABC Classic as ‘an extraordinary musician’, BBC Radio 3 Record Review for ‘his miraculous playing', Limelight Magazine as ‘a colossus’ and Gramophone for his ‘towering technique, vivid virtuosity and inspired interpretive insight’.
Twice nominated as 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 disk for Signum Classics 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 disks featuring the organs of La Madeleine Paris and St Bavo Haarlem.
Joseph studied at the Royal College of Music, London, winning multiple prizes including the Stuart, Parratt, Kistner and Canon Bark for most promising organ student. Attaining First Class Honours for his B Mus (Hons) final recital at the Temple Church, London, Joseph then went on to win scholarships from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Hattori Foundation and the Royal Philharmonic Society, which 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 in 2007. Joseph is the first ever organist to be featured on commercial disk playing the refurbished Grand Ballroom organ in Buckingham Palace on the Signum Classics label in 2008 (Nolan uses the organ to amazing effect-Gramophone).
Joseph has played 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, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra at Perth Concert Hall and as a soloist with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra at Llewellyn Hall. In 2020, Joseph was to make his concerto debut in two performances with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at QPAC, Brisbane, Australia and with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Christ Church and Wellington. These performances were cancelled due to Covid-19.
Joseph has built a formidable reputation as a recording artist having recorded ten solo disks 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 disks have been awarded innumerable five-star reviews and Editor’s Choice awards in Limelight Magazine, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine, as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and USA Pipedreams amongst many other networks.
Very notably, Gramophone magazine awarded the final disk 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 released a special celebration box-set of the complete organ works of Widor in 2019 which won another Critic’s Choice in Gramophone, a rave review in BBC Music Magazine and a ‘Recommended’ award by Musicweb International who also awarded the cycle benchmark status. Classical Source UK awarded the Widor box-set an Editor’s Choice citing-This is a landmark release. The quality of Nolan’s playing, the scope of this project…..one can only hope that this edition will lead to a full reassessment of Widor as an artist of epic grandeur and ingenuity.
Gramophone have hailed Joseph’s most recent disk from St Bavo Haarlem for Signum as a ‘wonderful accomplishment’, with the recording immediately entering the classical charts. BBC Radio 3’s Record Review programme hailed Joseph’s playing on the disk 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, 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.
The Government of France awarded Joseph the medal of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres for services to French music in 2016. Joseph is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Western Australia and was awarded, via examination, the University’s prestigious higher doctorate, the Doctor of Letters, in 2018. Joseph’s career has also been the subject of substantial interviews on Radio National (Australia) and in features within Gramophone, Choir and Organ, The Organ and The Australian.
Joseph was commissioned by Signum Classics to record the complete organ works of Jean-Valentin Alkan at La Madeleine, Paris in June 2020. This significant project has been postponed to 2021 due to the current global pandemic.