Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter July 3rd, 2021

Suddenly life is busier – well, for me, anyway. As we await the next stage of events, hopefully with fewer restrictions, we are wondering whether singing in church can match the chanting of football crowds. Mind you, you can’t fit thousands into most churches. It would be nice to let more than six sing indoors, mind you……..

Before we get any further, here is some light relief: link

News of our members:

  1. Welcome to new member Norman Flower, who lives in Fulham. We hope to see Norman soon at some of our events, which are listed below.
  2. Marilyn Nicholson, who has so often welcomed the Society to Penge Congregational Church, will move to Scotland soon, to be nearer her family. She says “it was such a joy to me to spread the news of my beloved Lewis organ”. We wish Marilyn well and have fond memories of many composite recitals in Penge. Hopefully we can go again next year.

Bursary Project:

This will go ahead; in September we shall be inviting applications, then assessing successful applicants by late October. More information to come.

Future SSLSO events:

Saturday, August 14th. – summer social at the home of Timothy Byram-Wigfield, at his kind invitation. Tim lives in the Clapham-Stockwell area and I’ll give full details nearer the time. Arrival of members and their guests from 12.30p.m. There will be a small charge to cover costs and drinks will be provided. Please bring your own nibbles on this occasion, to help the Covid precautions. Do let me know if you will be coming as soon as you like, so that we can know how to cater.

Saturday, September 25th. – our President, Dr. Harry Bramma, will talk about his life as a cathedral organist. Harry was Director of Music at Southwark Anglican Cathedral from 1976-1989, having been Assistant at Worcester before. This will be at St. Paul’s Church, Clapham from 2.30p.m.

Saturday, October 9th. – this is the new date for our meal, which we had to cancel at the beginning of this year. We shall now be at Brasserie Blanc, 119 Chancery Lane (Fleet Street end), WC2A 1PP, 6.30 for 7.00p.m. The charge will be £40 or thereabouts. Please note the dates, but we shan’t take bookings until we have seen the new menu in September. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Katy Silverman, Director of Music at St. Mary’s, Battersea; we shall welcome Katy and her husband Matthew.

Saturday, October 16th. – Norman Harper will be giving a presentation on French baroque organ music. There will be suggestions on repertoire soon, so that members can prepare music to play on the day under Norman’s guidance. This will be from 2.30p.m. at Christ’s Chapel, next to the Picture Gallery in Dulwich Village. The organ is as close as we can get to a French sound in our area. Please let me know if you would like to attend.

Wednesday, November 24th. – this will be a relaxing evening at the home of one of our members. There will be an organ to play on, should you wish it. We’ll ask for numbers nearer the date and can tell you more then.

Also: we plan to visit Southwark Cathedral for a Monday lunchtime recital, hopefully in the autumn, when we’ll be allowed access to the console.

January 15th, 2022 – we have been extremely fortunate in getting Anna Lapwood, organist, choir trainer and broadcaster to be with us for our Education Day. Do visit https://www.annalapwood.co.uk Despite her young age, Anna has had a remarkable career since leaving Oxford and has presented BBC television’s Young Musician programmes and given recitals on Radio 3. This event will be jointly held with the Bromley and Croydon Association. Anna will give a short organ recital. She will also be presenting awards to winners of the bursary schemes to members of both societies. A masterclass will take place with some or all of the award candidates involved. There will be an interview with Anna, conducted by our member Charlie Warren, who was at Oxford at the same time as Anna.

Monday, March 14th (2022). – AGM at St. Stephen’s, Norbury and Thornton Heath. After the formalities, Barry Williams will speak on the legal aspects of conditions of employment for organists and directors of music, as well as on performing rights. These are not dry-as-dust topics, as some people in our area have been adversely affected by what many will see as unfair dismissal (in a time of pandemic).

Friday to Tuesday, April 1st. to 5th (2022) . – trip to the Netherlands. Our member Pieter Shaw has put a great programme together. There will be a chance to try various instruments and to enjoy a relaxed visit, when the local food can be appreciated. There is space for one more person. Do let me know if you are interested.

Other plans for next year include a repertoire workshop with Richard Pilliner and a visit to churches in Merton and Wimbledon to be organised by Peter Smith.

Organ recitals:

  1. Please send news of dates, players and their programmes to Richard Pilliner for his Recital Round-Ups (or send via info@sslso.org.uk)
  2. Our member Bridget West will be playing at St. John’s, East Dulwich Road, SE22 9AT next Saturday, July 10th. at 11.00a.m:
    • Three Pieces from Richard III — William Walton (1902-83)
    • Variations on “Est-ce Mars” — Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)
    • Sonata VI in D minor — Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy(1809-47)
    • Vater Unser im Himmelreich: Chorale – Variations – Fuga – Finale from “Five Portraits for Home Organ” — William Lloyd Webber (1914-82)
    • Strength and Stay (A reflection on the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh) — Piers Maxim(b. 1968)
    • Fanfare for Nottingham — Naji Hakim (b. 1955)
  1. Tim Harper has had more fun on the organ of Ripon Cathedral: link This was from a live recital on June 24th. Marilyn Harper says: “The programme starts with a transcription by Marcel Dupre of Bach’s Cantata 146 , ‘ Wir mussen durch viel Trubsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen’, followed by repertoire by composers (including) Jeanne Demessieux, Edward Bairstow and ending with Percy Whitlock. If you like humour, watch for the moment when he leans across the console to push a stop in with his head!”

Psalms, Psinging and Psandwiches:

Saturday, October 2nd. – St. John’s, East Dulwich is putting on a day in which various ways of singing the Psalms are discussed, with (we hope) a chance to both hear and join in a fair bit of singing. This under the auspices of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This will be a live event and also livestreamed. Tickets from Eventbrite from August. Everyone is welcome; please mention it to your friends. Please let me know if you are interested in attending. As the title suggests, lunch will be provided!

Good wishes; the next newsletter will be on August 3rd.


Richard’s Recital Round-up   April, 2021

Hello Folks,

Here, at long last, is something that should concentrate your minds wonderfully!

Something for everybody, I hope

Trust you are all surviving during the gloom..


 “Six Sixes” from Ripon Cathedral with Tim Harper – organ

From our member Norman Harper:  Here is a series of links to Tim Harper’s recent online organ recital series from Ripon Cathedral. As many of you know, Tim is the younger son of Marilyn and Norman, and he is assistant director of music at the cathedral. The organ is a very fine 4-manual Lewis rebuilt by Harrison, and in these performances you get to hear it in all its grandeur and variety.

As the opening caption tells you, Tim is playing groups of works which come in collections of six: Bach Trio sonatas & Schübler chorales, Mendelssohn Sonatas, Howells Six Pieces, John Joubert Hymn-tune preludes for chamber organ and Vierne Symphonies – just the Final movements this time round!

The first recital contains all the ones, then the second all the twos etc etc.

The mobile console is on view most of the time, and is positioned variously in the choir stalls and the nave, so we see some of the building and quite a lot of candle-light. Enjoy!

Link to the Ones
Link to the Twos
Link to the Threes
Link to the Fours
Link to the Fives
Link to the Sixes


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

May 22ndIrene Wolstenholme (South London)


  1.  JS Bach (1685-1750)
    • Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565
    • Schmüke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654
  2.  Maurice Greene (1696-1755)
    • Voluntary for Full Organ
    • A 1st Voluntary in G major
  3.  Rebecca Groom te Velde (b.1956)
    • Song 13 – Chorale prelude
    • Easter Song – Trumpet tune
  4.  R Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
    • Prelude on Rhosymedre
  5.  JS Bach
    • Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 533
June 19thMarcus Wibberley (St. George’s, Beckenham)
July 10thBridget West (South London)
September 18thMichael Overbury (Newark, Nottinghamshire)
October 9thMichel Szostak (Poland)
November 6thPaul Gobey (Rotherhithe)

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.

Organ Recitals 2021 at St. Alphage, Edgware

St. Alphage

Montrose Avenue, Burnt Oak, Edgware

Middlesex. HA8 0DN

Organ built 2002 by B.C. Shepherd & Sons incorporating Father Willis pipes from 1857


International Organ Series 2021 at St. John the Evangelist

St. John the Evangelist

Duncan Terrace, Islington N1 8AL

Saturdays at 7:30pm

Organ by J W Walker 1963

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

Newsletter June 9th, 2021

Newsletter May 1st, 2021

Newsletter April 3rd, 2021

Newsletter March 6th, 2021

Newsletter February 6th, 2021

Newsletter January 9th, 2021

Newsletter November 28th, 2020

Newsletter October 31st, 2020

Newsletter September 27th, 2020

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

Notification of Society Events in 2021

Committee member Bridget has put together the entire programme of events for 2021. Enlarge and download (if you wish) click on the image. 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.


Recent Events and Notices

AGM, Monday March 15th at 7:30pm  Our AGM will take place on Monday 15th via Zoom commencing at 7.30 with Alisdair Friend playing some music to demonstrate the organ at St John’s, East Dulwich.  Please see the agenda here.

Sunday, November 15th  A recital in the Mexican Festival of Baroque Organs by our former Chair, Marilyn Harper, broadcast on YouTube. The link is here (or click the photo).  Marilyn writes:   “The Mexican organs are well worth hearing, and spectacular to look at. The first recital is given by Gustavo Delgado Parra, the organiser, and the second by him and his wife Ofelia. Explanations as to how the organs work and have been restored are given in Spanish but the gist can be gleaned. The temperaments are far more extreme than the chapel organ so by the time you hear the Dulwich organ it will sound as smooth as a calm lake!  Please give it a thumbs up! Thanks!”

Saturday, October 17th   Following two highly successful online events over the summer, we had a discussion (on Zoom) on choral aspects of the work of church musicians. Members were invited to talk about their experience of running church choirs and singing groups, musical repertoire, recruitment, mixed ability (and ages) within choirs, and how they and their churches have managed recently. All SSLSO members received a link to join the discussion and members of other local societies were also invited to join if they wished. A note of the event is here.

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.

SSLSO Improvisation Master Class 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.

Summary of the Society’s activities

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