Composite Recital 2021

It was on a dark evening on the 20th February 2021 that fifty intrepid organists made the long and perilous journeys from their sofas to their desks to participate in the SSLSO’s annual “Composite Recital”. In years past this had been held in Penge Congregational Church, but this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was held via Zoom. Nineteen people had submitted recorded pieces covering a very satisfying range of periods and styles, and even included pieces beautifully played on piano by some of our younger participants. It was a great joy to hear so many composers ranging from the well-known “Anon 17C”, taking in such luminaries as Purcell, Buxtehude, Bach, Brahms, Elgar, Dupré, Franck, and Howells, to Philip Glass and an expertly crafted trio sonata by our own committee member Peter Smith, which, he explained, is still work in progress, but which I am sure many of us will want to try in due course. Being able to watch the score unfold as Peter played was a great benefit. Richard kept the programme flowing very expertly, but even he seemed to exhaust his stock of superlatives as the evening progressed! It was indeed a very memorable recital. I estimate that we heard from 16 different instruments, ranging from piano and several home-practice instruments up to the magnificent organ at St Bavo’s Haarlem. And we covered some 400 years of music. In sheer variety and scope this definitely put the nine organ recital at Westminster Cathedral a couple of years ago into the shade ! The second part of the evening was devoted to a talk by William McVicker, curator of the Royal Festival Hall organ. His subject was “The Classical Revival” and he charted the stormy trajectory of organ building and design in the early part of the 20th Century, culminating in the Royal Festival Hall instrument which some of us visited in August 2019. A dominant figure of the classical revival was Albert Schweitzer and several of our members mentioned that his tempi, prizing clarity above brute speed, had been a formative influence in their own musical development. Schweitzer’s critique of the Festival Hall instrument, which achieved front-page coverage in the national press (and which needs to be read in a heavy German accent), was “She looks like a chemical factory, but she is magnificent, she is beautiful.” It was interesting to hear about the personal lives of some of the key players in the organ-building world, and speculate that had some of their personal relationships worked out differently, the young Ralph Downes studying in America would not have received the support and inspiration for his ideas which led, eventually, to the design and fulfilment of the RFH instrument. In his closing remarks Dr McVicker commented that we were currently enjoying a neoromantic revival in organ music, and suggested that a revival of interest in Hindemith’s organ works was overdue. So there’s an idea for next-year’s recital that someone might want to follow up!

John Mitchell, 2021

Performed byTitleComposer
Irene WolstenholmePassacaglia in D minBuxtehude (1637-1707)
Joe DaviesThe Duke of York’s MarchAnon (17c.)
Andrew ChadneyMaster Tallis TestamentHerbert Howell (1892-1983)
Charlie WarrenHerzlich tut mich erfreuenJohannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Andrew ChadneyAlbum LeafMartin Ball
Geremia GoverMeditationAlan Bullard
Sam GoverVesper Voluntary no3Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Beryl BediakoAirHenry Purcell (1659-1695)
Beulah BediakoVoluntary XIDomenico Zipoli (1688-1726)
John WoodhouseElegyArthur Wills (1926-2020)
Alan LangridgePrelude in B minor BWV544J S Bach (1685-1750)
Nicky JonesTe Splendor et Virtus PatrisMarcel Dupré (1861-1971)
Ann HubbleFugue on a Russian NoelRienhold Gliere (1875-1956)
Pieter ShawMeine Seele erhebet den HerrnJ S Bach (1685-1750)
William McVickerAndantinoCésar Franck (1822-1890)
Robert BowlesAllegretto in F Op.101 no.1Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Graham AnsteyMad RushPhilip Glass (1937-)
Peter SmithTrio SonataPeter Smith
Marilyn HarperPraeludium in A BuxWV151Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Norman HarperFugue on the Magnificat BWV733J S Bach (1685-1750)
Links to the performances

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 subs@churchtimes.co.uk. 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,

John

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

May 22nd Irene 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 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.

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 www.annalapwood.co.uk 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 www.devinemusic.co.uk.

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,

John

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