Saturday, October 17th. at 7.30p.m. (on Zoom)

Following two highly successful online events over the summer, we now have a discussion on choral aspects of the work of church musicians

Your input will be welcome.

Members are invited to talk about their experience of running church choirs and singing groups, musical repertoire, recruitment, mixed ability (and ages) within choirs…..and how you and your church have managed recently.

(Or you can just link up to listen.)

All SSLSO members will receive a link to join the discussion and members of other local societies receiving this invitation should contact me for that all important link.

John Webber: chairman@sslso.org.uk

Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter Sep 27th, 2020

From The Chair of SSLSO, John Webber:

The Committee met (sort of) last Sunday and we have two meetings planned for the New Year, subject of course to Covid-19:

Saturday, February 20th. at 2.30p.m:

Composite organ recital at Penge Congregational Church, 172 high Street, SE20 7QS. You are invited to play a piece; we are limited to thirty people on the premises. I’ll come back with more on this at a later stage.

Monday, March 15th. at 7.30p.m:

Annual General Meeting at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich Road, SE22 9AT. Alasdair Friend (St. George’s, Beckenham) will demonstrate the organ.

Next meeting of SSLSO on Zoom:

This will be a discussion on choral aspects of our work, on Saturday, October 17th. at 7.30p.m. Members will be sent a link nearer the time; individuals from adjoining local societies can ask for the link and will be welcome to join in. It would be helpful to hear from you on relevant topics, such as recruiting, coping with no choir and then the return of choirs, repertoire, music when there’s only a cantor and so on. If you’d like to speak on choral topic, please let me know.


I recommend that you hear “Black Classical Music: the Forgotten History” on BBC4 television at 8p.m, with Suzy Klein and Lenny Henry. As well as Scott Joplin, you’ll hear music by Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) and Florence Price (1887-1953), who wrote some terrific and very individual orchestral music. Our first thought in this topic will no doubt be Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who lived in Croydon during his woefully short life.

Links to enjoy:

1. Well, I said “enjoy”, but I wonder what you’ll make of this?

2. Here’s some G&S; they always liked to make their words relevant, after all.

3. A lively performance of the overture to Rossini’s opera “William Tell”.

4. John Cage’s extremely long organ piece included the first chord change after seven years recently. It ends, allegedly, in the year 2640; Here is a link to the music (if you have enough time to spare), and here are comments from local organists:

a. I’d hate to be the page turner for that one….

b. Pretentious nonsense!

c. I think I have found my piece for Penge.

d. I think it would be worse conducting it than turning pages!

5. You may have your scientific thought on this.

6. Three pieces of music recorded locally for us:

a. Vivaldi – Largo from Sonata in Bb major.

b. Scott Joplin – The Entertainer.

c. Vivaldi – Largo from Sonata in E minor, RV 40.

7. And more from Steven Devine on the harpsichord.

Finally: how to celebrate Christmas this year with your friends (as told to me, a vegetarian); take this with a pinch of salt and LAUGH:

Funerals can have an attendance of thirty, weddings fifteen now and Baptisms just six, so…..for Christmas, shoot the chicken and invite thirty friends round for the funeral!

Next newsletter on October 31st; good wishes, in the meantime,

Good wishes to all,



Recital Series at St. John’s, East Dulwich, 2021

April 10th Paul Gobey (Rotherhithe)
May 8th Irene Wolstenholme (South London)
June 19th Marcus Wibberley (St. George’s, Beckenham)
July 10th Bridget West (South London)
September 18th Michael Overbury (Newark, Nottinghamshire)
October 9th Michel Szostak (Poland)

Church of St. John the Evangelist, East Dulwich Road, SE22 9AT
Saturdays at 11.00a.m, followed by coffee and tea. Admission free; retiring collection. Music lasts about forty minutes.

Favourite Organs – August 2020

Hello Folks,

I have great pleasure in launching the first in our ‘favourite organ’ series, here (and see the accompanying specification here).

Our true and trusty chairman, John Webber, and committee member Norman Harper have opened a window into their favourite instruments, and Norman has included mp3 recordings of part of a recital that he gave at King’s College, Cambridge: Tranchell and Reger.

These two offerings are full of interest and I hope some more of you will come forward with some news and views of your favourite organs, to share with members of the society in September/October.

I also welcome news of forthcoming recitals and their programmes.



Prior Newsletters

Richard’s Recital Round-up, July 2020

Newsletter August 29th, 2020

Newsletter July 30th, 2020

Newsletter July 2nd, 2020

Newsletter June 2020

Newsletter May 2020

Recent Events and Notices

On Saturday 6th June an online meeting, entirely informal in nature, was offered as a substitute for the day-trip to Thaxted and Saffron Walden parish churches, which sadly had to be postponed for the usual current reasons. A real shame, as the two towns and churches are very attractive, and in fine weather are glorious to behold. The organs, of course, are very special.

So instead, all members were sent a message via email, asking if they would like an invitation and link to take part in Saturday evening’s  meeting, which took place using the zoom app.  Please find a note of the meeting here.


Saturday 23rd May saw our former Chair, Marilyn Harper, lead the Keyboard Skills workshop. This was the Society’s first virtual event, hosted over zoom with four participants and seven observers. Keyboard skills, including transposition, figured bass, sight reading and improvisation are core elements of the three Royal College of Organists’ diplomas. Marilyn recommended starting young if possible! Indeed two of the workshop participants were among our younger members, Ben (aged 11) and Joe (aged 15). Marilyn started the workshop looking at exercises from the books written jointly by Anne Marsden Thomas and Frederick Stocken, Graded Keyboard Musicianship, which she thoroughly recommended. Published in two volumes by Oxford University Press, these provide 5 “lessons” at each of 8 “levels”. Each lesson covers Figured bass, Score Reading, Harmonising a Melody, Transposing and Improvising. Ben and Joe performed admirably, realizing the given chord sequences for figured bass, adding them for harmonization, and transposing melodies up and down a tone. Sight reading followed, which was accomplished equally as well. Next, Alan and Robert looked at transposing a four part hymn tune up or down by one or two semitones, which is a requirement for both the Colleague Diploma (CRCO) and Associateship Diploma (ARCO). Marilyn recommended working through the Hanon studies in different keys, to build up technique skills in transposition, and using a metronome for practice – always count in, and start at a slow tempo and work your way up. The workshop concluded with a discussion over zoom among all present, and we of course expressed our gratitude to Marilyn for a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful workshop.



1. Here on the left is our start at gaining wider interest in playing the organ that has been highlighted in the May RSCM newsletter. Click here (or the click the picture) to get the whole newsletter.

2. There is a lot of stuff in this website that you may have missed. For example:  John Mitchel made a splendid film about the history and workings of the pipe organ;  hear our President, Harry Bramma, improvise on All Saints, Tootings’s magnificent Harrison; hear Richard Pilliner’s impromtu improvisation at St John’s east Dulwich.  So look at Norman Harpers’s easy guide to improvisation here, and you could do this too!

3.There is lots of stuff going online now that would have involved expensive travel,  accommodation and time cost. This is the time to take advantage of what’s available.

4. There is amazingly free access to the RCO media learning program. https://www.rco.org.uk/news_displaystory.php?newsid=313

and  https://www.rco.org.uk/news_displaystory.php?newsid=316

5. News from Marilyn Harper about the Leeds International Organ Festival. Lots of music on YouTube (for the obvious reasons). To experience this music go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCclwfVFDX69EvnA48MXmMug?view_as=subscriber


6.New SSLSO Master class about Improvisation has been created by Norman  Harper for you to self learn. Improvisation is something everyone can do.  Follow this link to get more information about this course and access to five short videos to help you.

7. Organist required for St Paul’s Parish of Herne Hill. The advert is here. The closing date has been extended.

8. Please see the May 2020 newsletter here, and have a go at the quiz! (answers here)

9. See these name poems about organ composers, written by Marion Whistle, a friend of one of our members.

10. A message to members of the SSLSO from the RCO, concerning Advocacy for Organists.

11. Organ advice from CofE concerning maintenance during lock-down, here.

12. Some interesting articles in the Church Times concerning, Singing, and new draft guidance on Baptisms, weddings and funerals.  More on Singing here in an article by Ed Ballard.

13.  Many of you will be aware from the media of the latest change in government regulations regarding the use of religious buildings for private prayer. Less well-publicised is that it contains the following specific provision for organists….  Activities such as singing and/or playing instruments should be avoided, with the exception of organists who are able to use buildings for practice with appropriate social distancing.  The full text can be found here.


Note we do not know which of these events will be allowed to go ahead, but the moment we do they will be signaled here.

Notification of Society Events in 2020


Committee member Bridget has put together the entire programme of events for 2020. Enlarge and download (if you wish) click on the green page. As you will see there are number of new event  taking place in forthcoming year. Further information will be emailed to you nearer the time of the event.





Summary of the Society’s activities

These two inserts describe the activities of the Society – click to enlarge