Southwark and South London Society of Organists newsletter August 29th, 2020

There is slow and continuing (if not suddenly announced) progress for church musicians. The recent SSLSO Zoom session gave members a chance to discuss how they were managing to move on and Peter Ramell’s helpful notes are attached here. Individual SSLSO members report their progress: Ian Boddington says that services will return to his church in Sutton in November; John Mitchell says: “At Warlingham we’re trying to construct some kind of ‘new normal’ which, currently relies on replacing the hymns with hymn-tune preludes (mostly improvised – though I was able to use Bach’s ‘Ein Feste Burg’ last week where “a safe stronghold” was one of the hymns on the list). And using soloists doubling as cantors. (we’d normally do this during August anyway when the choir is officially on holiday). But based on the government’s latest advice we’re planning to re-start choir in September.” John has offered this link to last Sunday’s service.

I’ll be pleased to hear your own experience of starting back at church; although organ playing was possible from July 5th, in the end the starting date is the decision of various local people who have to see what is safe for their circumstances.

The organisation “Making Music” announced last night: ‘Clarification has arrived from the DCMS, and in England there are now “no set limits on the numbers who can be involved in planned non-professional activity taking place outside and/or in a COVID-secure venue.”’

Other news:

  1. Sadly I must report the deaths of two organists who will be known to some of you:

Graham Powell, our former Chair, says: “I have just got home after practicing to hear that Michael Barlow died recently. I’d known him since I started practicing at Limpsfield in 1997, since when we often teamed up for choral evensongs at Limspfield, Westerham, Kemsing and many churches around the Home Counties and beyond. Music was his life and he was very highly thought of at Westerham. Fond memories of our last Evensong together at All Saints, Marlow last year. Michael often brought singers along to Amici Cantantes Evensongs and was very supportive. He’ll be sadly missed.

Christopher Town of the Bromley Association says: “I am extremely sorry to bring you the very sad news that Christian Strover – our former President and longest serving Member – died yesterday (23rd.). Martyn Christian Tinne Strover, MA, BLitt, FRCO (CHM), was born in Colchester, Essex in 1932 and was a Music Scholar at Bryanston School before becoming Organ Scholar at Hertford College, Oxford.He has been Organist at Christ Church Beckenham since 1956 and a Member of our Association throughout that time. Until 1997 he was the distinguished Director of Music at Emanuel School Wandsworth and has been closely involved with the Beckenham Festival for many years. A fine composer and arranger, he is known throughout the world for “Water of Life” for which he wrote both words and music. He also adapted a teaching of St Paul to create “Parents, don’t exasperate your children”! A man of many talents, Christian was also a skilled craftsman and furniture maker.”

Another message to me points out that Christian died on his birthday (as did my mother in 2016!).

  • On a cheerier note, our young member Ben Abraham has achieved 132 out of 150 for ABRSM Grade 8 Piano. Congratulations to him!
  • Well done to Richard Pilliner for producing that recent mailshot (see more below); Richard would love to hear from you if you have organ recitals to announce (when they get going – a few have) or just a few words about the church organ which you most enjoy playing, with a short description (and maybe a photo or two).
  • Peter Smith has been as occupied as ever in composing organ music. This is the link to his compositions and the Six Preludes are his latest offering: click here.
  • Our member Ian Clifford recorded the bells of St. George’s, Beckenham recently and I included this last time. It’s worth another listen, especially as Ian managed to get the recording on to Radio 3 on Martin Handley’s Sunday programme during August. Hear the bells again!
  •  Ian has also sent me this: “(Here) is a Youtube clip of a lady called Loreto Aramendi playing the St. Sulpice organ in Paris, but what makes it quite amusing is that she has no less than three stop pullers, one of whom is Daniel Roth who apparently is the organist at St Sulpice. The organ looks to be quite a monster but to my viewing they don’t seem very organised! It is France though, and she does play it superbly.”  See it here.
  • There is a promising future for this young man.
  • Harpsichordist Steven Devine and his partner, the singer Kate Semmence have produced another topical song: Covid Conundrum and Steven has recorded several pieces, of which this is one. If you are interested to find out more about Steven’s music, do use this link to e-mail him.
  • Thanks to the Kent County Association and Ian Verran of the Bromley group for making this news available: Mander’s and Browne’s:

“The following post has just appeared on Browne’s Facebook page: F H Browne & Sons ltd is delighted to announce that it has acquired the trading name and intellectual property rights of Mander Organs Ltd. From 1st October 2020, F H Browne (Organ Builders) Ltd will trade under the name Mander Organs for all current and future contracts. Both companies are based in South East England, and three of the current FHB employees (including myself) are former employees of Mander Organs, so there are immediate synergies. We are delighted to have made this transition and look forward to working with our present and future customers both in the UK and Internationally.

Stephen Bayley (Managing Director).”

  1.  Ian Verran also offers these alternative words to a well known hymn.
  2.  We’ll have another Zoom session on October, on Saturday 17th. at 7.30p.m, with a choral emphasis (but no doubt other matters too).

Another newsletter in four weeks; do be in touch if you have news or comments.

All good wishes, John