Category Archives: Newsletters

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

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

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!

Communication
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 www.everyone-matters.co.uk.

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