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Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter April 3rd, 2021

Welcome and I wish you a Happy Easter!

Recent events

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.

Forthcoming events:

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 ronaldsamm@hotmail.com.

Martin How

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.

Organ recitals

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): info@sslso.org.uk (Sam) and richipill@blueyonder.co.uk

Links, etc.

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.

John

Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter March 6th, 2021

Welcome! Much has been going on and there is plenty coming up in the next few months. Please do read all the attachments/links to be up to date.

Today

London Organ day is happening as I write, but I’ve provided information here, thanks to Christopher Town of the Bromley and Croydon group. Details on an attachment; also today is a recital by Bromley and Croydon member Jonathan Holmes tonight, with mention of two further recitals this month.

Recent event:

As we couldn’t hold our annual composite recital live, we decided to invite recorded submissions, followed by a talk by William McVicker. I am personally hugely grateful to Richard Pilliner, Sam Gover, Robert Bowles, Norman Harper and William McVicker for their putting together of the whole evening. We had just over fifty people attending. I have attached a report on the event, by our member John Mitchell.

Tom McLelland-Young RIP

Tom was a former SSLSO member and a highly talented musician. John Mitchell has kindly supplied the attached obituary.

Kevin Mayhew RIP

The publisher, organist and composer Kevin Mayhew died on January 14th. He was born in 1942 and had been a chorister at Westminster Cathedral. he was well known for his publishing of organ music, including for those learning how to manage simple voluntaries and he brought out “Hymns Old and New” in various editions.

Coming soon:

1. Our AGM will now be hold on Zoom, on Monday week, March 15th. at 7.30p.m. Please aim to join us at 7.20p.m, so that we can begin on time. We start with organ music played by Alasdair Friend at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich, the originally intended venue; the meeting will follow. We can accommodate one or two more people on to the Committee; Ashley Valentine and Lionel Bourne will be steeping back.

2. We had hoped to join the Enfield and District Organists’ Association on May 15th, but this is just before we are allowed out! Instead, the Enfield group has invited us to their previous event on Thursday, March 25th; please see the attachment. This will be a discussion of John Norman’s latest book. Our thanks to Michael Hennin and Rosemary Knight for this.

3. Saturday, May 15th. will nonetheless be a date for our own Zoom meeting, now moved to 7.30p.m. We shall have a quiz. This will not be competitive and is purely for fun. Questions may be on music generally or on church music and organs, or on local geography…..it’s up to the people that I’ll invite to offer the questions! All for fun and not to be taken too seriously.

4. Saturday, June 5th. Hooray! We can go out for the day! Norman Harper has heard from St. Mary’s, Saffron Walden that we are welcome there at 2.30p.m. We hope to go to Thaxted, slightly south of Saffron Walden, in the morning and have lunch there (or in the car, if not!). More on this soon. Thaxted Church had a fascinating history during the twentieth century and I have visited it many times. It is connected with Gustav Holst, amongst others.

And coming less soon:

Big news – we are planning a trip to The Netherlands from April 1st. to 5th. next year. Our member Pieter Shaw is based there and has sent information which I have attached. It would be good to know who is interested, without being 100% committed at this stage, as numbers have to be limited.

Update on singing:

Another attachment offers support on this; it is based on information from “Making Music”, based on Government advice.

Links:

After all this serious stuff, we all need something lighthearted. The first two links certainly come in this category:

1. Thanks to Daniel Moult and the Bexley Association for this one. Which of these two singers do you prefer?

2. Rhyming slang and Ronnie Barker (thanks to the Enfield Association for this).

3. From Reg Boulton of the Bexley group, we have organ music with a well known theme.

4. Again, received from Reg, we now have fabulous Mexican organs, in twenty minute doses.

5. Noël Tredinnick has sent this news item about the organ at York Minster.

6. The RSCM is offering a chance to join then for Compline on Wednesdays in Lent: RSCM Compline in Lent – Do Join Us!

7. A take on worship songs (from the Bexley Association – they aren’t the performers, mind you).

8. This came from our member Ian Clifford. I originally thought that I was seeing three different singers, but no, it’s one very clever person acting out the lot. It’s a take on “Three Little Maids”, from “The Mikado” and the singer is fundraising, so you can donate if you wish; she is highly talented: link here.

9. The Virtual Choir, which John Mitchell sent me: The Birth of the Virtual Choir.

10. On the same topic, there are even courses on this subject.

Do send your news or more links; the next newsletter will be on April 3rd. I look forward, in the meantime, to seeing you at the AGM; let me know if a trip to he Netherlands interests you.

John

Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter February 6th, 2021

Welcome to the February newsletter of the Southwark and South London Society of Organists! I hope that you are all coping out there, especially if you are unable to play for services at the present. You are not alone and, believe me, we’ll all get there one day! Belonging to a group like this keeps people in touch. You are welcome to send in comments, questions, newsy items or even links for the next letter, which will be on March 6th.

Composite recital, Saturday, February 20th. at 7.30p.m:

You’ll know that we wanted to keep this event going, although, like so many things, it will be on Zoom. Please note that it will be in the evening. Richard and Sam are putting a programme together; this is now only two weeks away! If you would like to offer a recorded piece of organ music (if necessary, played on your piano), please let them know quickly, so that they expect to receive your piece. Video or audio-only items are welcome. You can find Richard and Sam on info@sslso.org.uk We want particularly to hear from members who don’t usually get a chance to play in front of others. You are asked to announce (or to provide in written form) your name and any musical position which you may have, plus the name and composer of your piece. Please keep this brief.

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

At this stage, I don’t know whether this will be held at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich, or online. I’ll let you know.

There will be a short presentation of organ music by Alasdair Friend (St. George’s, Beckenham), who lives near to St. John’s. The AGM will follow. The Committee would welcome new members; two are stepping down. We are flexible about Committee numbers and want to encourage our general membership to be involved. Anyone is welcome to be put forward, but we especially welcome women and younger members. If we have more than our allocation, we may be able to co-opt, initially for a year.

Trip to the Netherlands, April 1st. to 5th, 2022

Our member Pieter Shaw lives in the Netherlands and is starting to make plans for a visit to the area next year. Pieter will provide some thoughts on this for our March newsletter.

London Organ Day

The following message comes from our national organisation:

The IAO London Organ Day on 6th. March has been re-planned as a virtual event. Its Artistic Adviser, Tom Bell, has arranged for there to be two organ recitals, by Daniel Cook (Durham Cathedral) and Francesca Massey (Rochester Cathedral). There will also be a presentation by Fugue State Films. This online event will be free to all IAO members, although voluntary contributions to help defray expenses would be welcome. All information about how to join the event will be available at least one week in advance at https://iao.org.uk/london-organ-day/ .

New member:

Welcome to Charlie Warren – or rather, welcome BACK to him! Charlie was a member of SSLSO in his school days and studied piano and organ with me. He went on to Merton College, Oxford as organ scholar and has held positions on various London Churches ever since. Charlie is currently playing in West London and lives in Upper Norwood.

Links:

a. From our member Norman Harper: “Six Sixes” from Ripon Cathedral with Tim Harper – organ

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

b. This will take you to some lifelike faces, some being classical composers. See if you can work them out: https://hadikarimi.com

c. Good to see that Salisbury Cathedral offered organ music as well as vaccinations! Thanks to Marilyn H for this link

d. This is a performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah” from “Messiah” in an empty church

e. A delightful interview by a chorister from Portsmouth’s anglican Cathedral, about the workings of the organ: Exploring the Cathedral ‘Inside the Organ’ – YouTube

f. This is the “light relief”; animals enjoying themselves, sometimes by mistake!

Do forward these links, if you wish to.

So, get in touch with any news or other offerings for the next letter; I hope to see many members at the Composite recital on February 20th; a link will be sent nearer the time.

All good wishes, John

“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

Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter January 9th, 2021

Happy New Year! I’ll start with the next two meetings, both affected by the lockdown:

This Monday, January 11th, we can’t meet at Southwark cathedral, but we hope to return later in the year.

Saturday, February 20th, instead of the composite recital at Penge, we’re inviting our members to video-record a piece of music for time together on Zoom on the same day at 7.30p.m. We’d love to have plenty of offerings! Richard Pilliner (Vice-Chair) and Sam Gover (Committee member responsible for the website) will be delighted to receive a piece of music from you. Please e-mail it to Richard and/or Sam at info@sslso.org.uk. If you need assistance, do contact Sam. He suggests: “for sending videos, it’s worth using a file transfer service as typical iphone type videos require about 130MB per minute, and most email systems can’t cope much over 10MB – wetransfer.com is free to use, you don’t need to register, just upload your file and enter your and the recipient’s email addresses. If anyone needs technical advice i’m happy to help”.

If you would rather provide an audio performance, that will be fine. Some of you will not be able to get into your church and some will have an organ at home. If you can play a suitable organ piece on a piano and send it, we’ll consider using it!

Please announce your piece before you play, or e-mail what you would like Richard to read out or print for the audience. Ideally we need a sentence to include your name, area where you live and a few words about you (e.g. main job is as a plumber / at school / Director of Music at St. Mary’s), then a brief word about your piece. Please keep the total to about thirty seconds.

Richard and Sam may need to edit what they are sent, e.g, the same piece twice, length of performance and quality of the recording. SSLSO will consider putting some pieces on to the website at a later stage and we’ll ask for the approval of the player.

This event is aimed at people of all levels of musical ability. We especially want to include members who don’t usually have a chance to play in front of others. Your inclusion is valuable and we encourage everyone to think about taking part.

All very exciting – get going!

Other news:

1. We’ll let you know about the March meeting (Monday 15th.), which is the AGM and a short recital.

2. Richard Pilliner was a student of Arthur Wills RIP – see his obituary of his teacher here.

3. At the end of 2020, we heard of the death from cancer of Catherine Ennis. This is the link to RCO’s obituary. 2020 gave us the deaths of Jane Parker-Smith and Jennifer Bate as well, so we lost a trio of hugely talented women organists.

4. David Flood retired from Canterbury Cathedral at the end of 2020. He had been Director of Music there since 1988.

5. Finally, links to performances by members of our Society: Marilyn Harper played on an organ at the Horniman Museum; here is the link.

6. William McVicker says: “As we can’t go out much in Tier 4 I thought I’d send you a link to something I’ve worked on during the second major lockdown in November — a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s nine-movement symphonic cycle La Nativité du Seigneur (1935). Included are words and images which give added depth to the music. Each movement has a biblical quotation as a sub title and the Rev James Harratt has included some thoughts in respect of each of these passages. I am extremely grateful to James, the vicar at Bromley Parish Church, and to the Rev Sophie Sutherland and Reader Peter Cheshire for assisting in the compilation of what I hope will provide an appropriate meditative distraction from the pandemic as well as food for thought.  The YouTube link is here.

Richard and Sam look forward to receiving your musical offerings!

The next newsletter will be no February 6th. Do let me know if you have any news or musical links which you would like to be included.

All good wishes, John