Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter April 3rd, 2021
From The Chair of SSLSO, John Webber:
Welcome and I wish you a Happy Easter!
March 15th. – our AGM. A summing up of the last year, which had several beneficial sessions online and we increased our links with other local societies. The Committee said “thank you” and “farewell” to Lionel Bourne and Ashley Valentine; we welcome Charlie Warren (a younger member, one time organ scholar of Merton College, Oxford and now living in Upper Norwood).
March 25th. – six of our members attended an online presentation by John Norman, organised by the Enfield and District Organists’ Association. I thought that SSLSO members would like to know more. John’s latest book is called “What is an organ and how does it work?” He trained with Hill Norman and Beard and his father, Herbert Norman, was well known in organ building circles. We saw slides of some organs which John Norman had worked on, including Brisbane Cathedral, The Royal College of Organists, St. Mark’s, Portsmouth and Hambleden Church (Hampshire). John left organ building for IBM; when he retired from them, he became a member of various church and musical bodies, becoming organ consultant for sixteen new organs, including those at the Palace of Westminster, St. Mary-le-Bow and Worcester Cathedral. His latest book includes chapters on “What is an organ?”, the history of the instrument, matching the organ to its building (quote: “the building is the most important stop”), tonal structure, different types of pipes and what they do, voicing and tuning, a glossary of stop names, what an organ looks like, the console, key action and stop action. Thank you to Michael Hennin and Rosemary Knight for the invitation.
Saturday, May 15th. – SSLSO quiz at 7.30p.m. We have questions from four members and all are invited to log in from 7.20p.m. We’ll have an interval, during which our distinguished member Peter Wright will tell us about his recent temporary position as DoM of Ripon Cathedral. Most of you will know that Peter held this position in Southwark Cathedral from 1989 until recently.
Saturday, June 5th. – we are definitely going to see churches in Thaxted and Saffron Walden. More precise timing will be sent soon; we begin at Thaxted in the morning, hope to have lunch in the town (otherwise bring a packed lunch) and we are due at St. Mary’s, Saffron Walden at 2.30p.m.
2022 trip to The Netherlands
As announced in the last newsletter, we have spaces for three or four more for this visit, which will be from April 1st. to 5th. next year. Let me know if you are interested, even if only tentatively.
Singer available: Ronald Samm
There have been many funerals this year and this acclaimed local singer is available. Ian Shaw writes: “At St Laurence, Catford – where there are, sadly, rather more funerals than usual at present – the vicar, Fr Charles Pickstone, has been engaging the tenor RONALD SAMM as a soloist. Ron has proven a great success, with glowing comments from many families. His singing has lifted many spirits.
“Ron was born in Trinidad and has Gospel music in his blood. He also studied at Guildhall, RNCM and the National Opera Studio, and – until the pandemic – pursued a high-profile career in opera, concert and West End musicals. He was notably the first black man to sing the title role in Verdi’s ‘Otello’ in the UK. At recent funerals, Ron has sung the usual diet of hymns, gospel songs and pop ballads – for example, ‘Jesus is Love’ (Lionel Richie) or ‘Goodbye, my friend’ (Linda Ronstadt.) Oratorio is also in his core repertoire.
Ron’s website is www.ronaldsamm.com. To contact him or to book him (for a competitive fee), please email email@example.com.
Congratulations to Martin, who has recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday. He was RSCM Commissioner for the South of England for many years and in his retirement has continued to compose and to play the organ at Croydon Minster. The last issue of the RSCM’s magazine, CMQ, has an article from Martin about, of all things, piano technique. Well worth the read, if you have a copy and haven’t started on it yet.
Richard Shepherd RIP
Church music composer Richard Shepherd died on February 21st, aged just 71. He was a chorister in Gloucester as a treble and was associated for many years with Cambridge. In his last years he sang at York Minster and did much there behind the scenes.
Society of Women Organists
I have just joined this group – clearly it is open to both women and men! There are excellent female organists out there, as we all know, but the proportion of women to men in the organ world is shamefully inadequate. I encourage you to see Society of Women Organists This a lively group of people of all ages, active and with a good website to explain more.
These are now starting to be fixed. Do see our website (sslso.org.uk). I have a series at St. John’s, East Dulwich, including our members Irene Wolstenholme, Bridget West and Paul Gobey; this is listed on our website and elsewhere. To add to the list of recitals, do contact Sam Gover and Richard Pilliner, who are responsible for the website (Sam) and occasional e-mails listing recitals (Richard) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A hotch potch of things, as ever:
1. See here about these musical knives? Can you sing from them?
2. Music to hear, thanks for this link from our member Ian Clifford, who says: “You might enjoy this. It’s Carl Jackson, organist and DOM at Hampton Court Palace Chapel playing the Willis organ in Freemason’s Hall. What was amazing and lovely was that over 1100 people from all around the world were watching.
3. Thanks to Reg Boulton from the Bexley Association for sending this, which he received: “My name is Alan and I live in Dundee Scotland. I’m trying to spread the word as much as possible. I have written lyrics to a new hymn. “Praise To The King The Lord Of All We See” It was published only last month. The publisher snapped it up after only one week! It is an organ arrangement to Highland Cathedral the world famous iconic bagpipe tune. The piece was originally arranged without lyrics by organist Anthony Baldwin and can be heard here played on organ by Professor Winfried Bonig in Cologne Cathedral. It can also be heard played by Anthony here. The Cologne Cathedral one has almost 300,000 views to date. Anthony contacted me when he had heard I had written lyrics and he slightly altered his original version, heard on YouTube links, slightly to accommodate my lyrics. I hope you enjoy it. This is the first time I have ever written lyrics. If you manage to get a choir to sing it then please let me know. Because of Covid, it has never been sung before. If you do then please let me know beforehand ….all post Covid of course. It is available from the publisher here. My phone number is 07778674508. Regards, Alan Playfair Calder-McNicoll.
4. A weird one, this photo and article; it was sent to Reg by Michael Norman in the Bexley Society.
5. The strange language which we read and write (yet another offering from Bexley).
6. I hope that you feel sorry for this writer: “Oh, don’t you just love it when, hungry, weary and massively screened out, you record a whole session of a Lent course and then realise you never pressed “Record”. AARGH! Time for dinner, I think…[Later] Now that I’ve done it my computer is giving me the option “Stop converting” which would rather undermine the purpose of the Lent course.” Quote from Philip North, Bishop of Burnley.
7. Thanks to Bridget and Church Times for this link, with another priest to feel sorry for!
You are welcome to send me comments, suggestions, news and links for the next newsletter, which will be on May 1st.
Good wishes and hope to see many of you at the Zoom quiz and the Thaxted outing, if not sooner.
“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!
Richard’s Recital Round-up
Please see here the latest SSLSO Recital Round-Up, which I hope will whet your appetites!
To welcome the New Year in, there is a recital by John Webber at St George’s, Beckenham, on Friday 2nd January 2021 – details included.
I’m sure as many of you as possible will want to support John. Hopefully we can continue the New Year festivities in a hostelry after the performance…
Trust you are all surviving during the gloom..
Recital Series at St. John’s, East Dulwich, 2021
|May 22nd||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)|
|November 6th||Paul 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
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
Duncan Terrace, Islington N1 8AL
Saturdays at 7:30pm
Organ by J W Walker 1963
Favourite Organs – August 2020
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.
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