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Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter June 9th, 2021

HM guidelines on singing in churches have been baffling and we wait with baited breath for next week’s statement.

Recent events:

May 11th:  Norman Harper contributed to a series for the Winchester group.  He spoke about modern organ music and improvisation.

May 15th:  We held a quiz on Zoom, which was well attended. Thanks to Sarah Best, Ann Hubble and Mike Cooke for their questions, to Robert Bowles for hosting the evening and to Peter Wright. He spoke to us about his current role as interim Director of Music at Ripon Cathedral, which will continue a few more months.

June 5th:  Last Saturday’s outing to rural Essex was supported by fifteen of us and was our first “live” meeting since early last year.  I have attached two photos and there are more to be found here. The first photo attached to this newsletter is from the URC and you can see Thaxted Parish Church in the background; the other is of a group of us with our host Ann Pickhaver at Thaxted Parish Church. There, Ann reminded us of the history of the building, especially the musical activities; Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst had shared the organ playing for services about a century ago. They used the Lincoln organ of 1821, which our group was allowed to try. Holst had lived in the town for several years. Do look up the names of Conrad Noel and Jack Putterill, well known parish priests in Thaxted and quite unusual; those were heady days! Ann was particularly pleased to see us, since we were the first group for well over a year to be welcomed into what is usually a very bustling building. We were sorry that the usual organist, Christopher Bayston, was unwell; instead, local clockmaker Oliver talked to us about the mechanical aspects of the organ. There are an electronic organ and a G P England (Conacher?) organ at the west end, this latter probably not usable.
We went around the corner to the United Reformed Church, where Sue Freeman welcomed us. This church has a two manual Conacher organ of c.1883. We then went on to St. Mary’s PC in Saffron Walden, a prominent building in a busy market town. Oli King, Director of Music (he once played at St. Peter’s, Streatham) demonstrated the main organ, a four manual Norman and Beard of 1911-12. Peter de Vile, who had worked on the organ in 2007, gave us a history and description of the instrument before we were allowed to play it. Many thanks to Norman for organising this trip, which he did with great thoroughness!

Forthcoming events:

Saturday, August 14th:   Summer social from 12.30p.m, through the kind invitation of our member Timothy Byram-Wigfield, who says:

“The location (SW4 6LT) is well-connected for public transport. I’ve attached a couple of photos to give an impression below, along with location information. It’s a quiet residential area, although the flight path occasionally makes its presence known. There’s a large paved patio and lawned area, and a gate at the very back (beyond the “horti-husbandry” greenhouse area, behind the hedge) for easy access.

“Inevitably suitability depends on likely numbers and previous requirements. The garden is all on street level, but there is a disadvantage for wheelchair users, as from the patio there are 6 steps down to the toilets and bathroom.

“If wet weather, folk will be very welcome to eat inside. It’s a ground and basement flat, but internally levels may become an issue, as the main staircase from ground to basement has 14 steps. The access at the front of the building involves 6 steps up, or 6 steps down.

“Churches within easy reach: St Paul’s (2-man Forster and Andrews, recently restored); Christ Church, Union Grove, which I’ve not played (2-man Lewis pipework); St Peter’s, Clapham Manor Street (3-man Hunter; my favourite locally); and many other venues, in Hunter territory.

“So after lunch the group could either stroll along to one, and play their favourite pieces. Or just stay and enjoy the flowers!”

I’ll let those going know about what they need to bring (own food, etc.) in good time. Please note this in your diary. Here are the two photos of Tim’s garden:

Next year:

Among other plans, please note these two:

Saturday, January 15th:  Anna Lapwood, who is highly regarded as an organist, broadcaster, conductor and encourager of young players, will be with us. All this, in her mid-twenties! The full details of the day are being worked out. Do see here website.

April 1st to 5th:  We still have one or two places for the visit to the Netherlands. Let me know if you would like your name to be added. I can resend information if it’s wanted.

Other news and links:

From Robert Bowles:  I have some positive news – there will shortly be a vacancy for an Organ Scholar at Church of the Holy Spirit in Narbonne Avenue  Clapham – see details here.

From Bridget West:  Here are some links to recent Church Times articles that may be of interest to SSLSO members. If you are not a subscriber, you can view for free up to five articles a month. You can purchase a full sub (paper and online) or online only; email There’s a lot of online events taking place, also; so, as a subscriber, you’ll be notified about these, too.

  1.  Latest government guidance on choirs
  2.  Cathedral Music Trust grants
  3.  RSCM/Church Times webinar
  4.  Obituary for Richard Lloyd, who died on 24 April, aged 87
  5.  Evensong

Recitals at St. John’s, East Dulwich

The next one will be on June 19th; here’s the poster.

This is the programme:

  • Toccata Psalm 146 Jan Zwart (1877-1937)
  • Consolation in D flat, S.172 Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
  • Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, BWV 654 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
  • Suite Carmelite Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
    • I. Sœur Blanche
    • II. Mère Marie de l’incarnation
    • III. Sœur Anne de la Croix
    • IV. Sœur Constance
    • V. Sœur Mathilde
    • VI. Mère Marie de Saint-Augustin
  • Chant de Paix Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
  • Toccata (Symphony No 5, Op. 42/1) Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937).

Some of our members are playing later in the year; here is the list:

  • June 19th – Marcus Wibberley (South London)
  • July 10th – Bridget West (South London)
  • September 18th – Michael Overbury (Newark, Nottinghamshire)
  • October 9th – Michel Szostak (Poland)
  • November 6th – Paul Gobey (Rotherhithe)

Something lighter:

1. How pianists (and organists) dry their socks

2. Organ described (thanks to Reg Boulton)

Good wishes to all; he next newsletter will be on or about July 3rd.

Best Wishes,


Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter May 1st, 2021

Future events:

Saturday, May 15th. at 7.30p.m. on Zoom: we are having a quiz, set by four members of the Society. No prizes; just for the fun of trying your skills and knowledge. During the evening, we shall hear from our member Peter Wright, until fairly recently the Director of Music at Southwark Anglican Cathedral. Peter is currently in charge of music at Ripon Cathedral on a temporary basis. We’ll send out the link to this event nearer the time; please aim to join us by 7.20p.m, so that we can start punctually.

Saturday, June 5th: this will be our first real outing to visit a group of Churches for well over a year. We shall be visiting three churches in Thaxted and Saffron Walden in Essex. Wonderfully comprehensive details are attached here and our hosts are going the extra mile to welcome us. We look forward to good numbers. Please let Norman Harper know if you are coming, preferably by May 29th, but come anyway if you miss the deadline.

August: we hope to have an outdoor lunchtime social occasion. More soon.

Saturday, September 25th. at 2.30p.m: at St. Paul’s Church, Clapham, our President, Dr. Harry Bramma, will talk about his life in church music.

Saturday, October 9th. at 6.30 for 7p.m: postponed annual meal. We hope to use our 2020 venue. The speaker will be Katy Silverman, Director of Music at St. Mary’s Church, Battersea, who has had an impressive start to her musical career.

Saturday, October 16th. at 2.30p.m: session on French baroque music, led by Norman Harper at Christ’s Chapel, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, SE21 7AD.

Wednesday, November 24th. at 7.30p.m: social evening, when you can share and play music. This will be at a member’s house and details are available on request from me.

2022: our Committee has many plans for next year. One is an education day, to be led by Anna Lapwood (who was on television last night, introducing potential musicians of the year). Do see In the meantime, and you may also like to see this!

We hope to restart our bursary scheme either by January. Next year’s events will include a session on repertoire led by Vice Chair Richard Pilliner.

Recital Roundup: Richard recently sent members an exciting list of recitals over the next few months, at various venues, see here.  See below for the list of recitals at my Church in East Dulwich.

Winchester and District Association of Organists: they are currently part way through a group of talks on Tuesdays at 7.30p.m. Three are yet to come, with Barry Rose on June 8th. and David Hill on June 29th. Before them is one on “Contemporary Music and improvisation” on May 11th, given by our own Norman Harper. All invited: please request a link if you would like to join.

A couple of links:

1. The bells of Banff – a short diversion from organ music; peaceful and with beautiful photography.

2. Marilyn has demonstrated some of the keyboard instruments at Horniman’s Museum, at Forest Hill. Now here is Steven Devine, who demonstrates and describes instruments from there: “Hear it Live! Digital” – Steven Devine at the Horniman Part 1. Steven knew some of these instruments when he was based at the living museum of keyboard instruments at Finchcocks in deepest Kent. The collection there was split when Katrina and Richard Burnett retired and Horniman’s received some of the instruments. You can follow Steven on

Many thanks to the able and hardworking Committee, who have been involved behind the scenes in putting our programme of events together.

I’ll send another newsletter in early June, probably on Wednesday 9th. Comments on this newsletter are welcome and do send anything which you may wish me to include. Let’s hope that we can enjoy the gradual route to a “new normal”!

Best Wishes,


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 To contact him or to book him (for a competitive fee), please email

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 ( 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): (Sam) and

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.


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.


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…’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.


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.


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 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 .

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.


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:

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

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 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 – 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

Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter November 28th, 2020

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year, as Advent looms up tomorrow!

You will have received the Recital Round Up from Richard Pilliner (Vice Chair) this week and the 2021 calendar from Andrew Chadney (Secretary). They and Peter Ramell (Treasurer) will continue to be in touch as the need arises.  I’ll send the next newsletter on January 9th.

Ray Luckett RIP
Our longstanding member and one time Honorary Secretary Ray Luckett peacefully died on Thursday night, aged 94, with his wife Gwen and son Andrew and family at his side. Ray and his wife Gwen were familiar figures in Beckenham until a few years ago. SSLSO presented Ray with life membership a few years ago. If you would like to send a card to Gwen, she is living at home and I can supply her address.

Arthur Wills RIP
The former Director of Music at Ely Cathedral died recently. This is the obituary from the Daily Telegraph, spotted by Norman Harper.

The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland
This organisation is offering a hymn for every day from Advent to Epiphany.  Each hymn has a reflection and the series is highly recommended.

Employment of Organists and Directors of Music
The Committee discussed this important topic in their meeting last weekend. Thank you to Bridget West for her notes: “We are all aware that churches up and down the country have been hit financially by the pandemic. And so they are looking at every aspect of their outgoings, including organists/directors of music.
“Following formal advice to parishes by the Legal Advisory Commission of General Synod in January 2018, almost all organists/parish musicians/directors of music are employees, whether or not PAYE is operated on their salary/fees. This brings protection in that, if an organist’s post is to be made redundant (it is the post not the person that is made redundant), then there is a formal process which must be followed, and compensation must be paid. Regrettably, a number of churches have been reluctant to do this.
“Anyone needing help and support is advised to contact the Musicians’ Union, who have been wholly successful in cases for organists.”

Thomas Trotter
Peter Smith sent this link. He says: “Good to see an organist being honoured”.

Duruflé Requiem
My colleague at St. John’s, Neil Stevenson, describes this performance as “the height of musicianship”.

Enfield and District Organists’ Association
Three days ago, several of us joined the Enfield group in a Zoom session in which their guests Anne Marsden Thomas and Frederick Stocken introduced their new tutor, The New Oxford Organ Method. This was a useful link which Richard set up for us. In 2021 we have an outing to the Enfield area and we aim to invite their members to join us to one of our events South of the Thames at some point.

Other musical links:
1. Steven Devine, an early music specialist who plays harpsichord and sometimes directs the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, offers this topical song with sopano Kate Semmence.  Do see more here.

2. A friend of mine from college days, Margaret Archibald, has sent two links:
(a) a clarinet version of Salley Gardens.
(b) Gavin Edwards has recorded a video for us that is not only full of information and anecdotes but offers a fascinating close-up of hand-horn technique, a view that most of us never get to see!
Margaret’s musical charity is worth supporting; you can read more at

3.  Tim Harper, son of Marilyn and Norman, performs Six Sixes: Trio Sonatas – ‘Schübler’ Chorales – Mendelssohn – Howells – Joubert – Vierne.

4. From our member Ian Clifford: You’ve never heard Bach’s famous D minor like this before (and it’s all for an excellent charity).

All good wishes, John