Category Archives: Events

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

Choral Aspects of the Work of Church Musicians, a Zoom meeting

Saturday, October 17th, 2020   Following two highly successful online events over the summer, we had a discussion (on Zoom) on choral aspects of the work of church musicians. Members were invited to talk about their experience of running church choirs and singing groups, musical repertoire, recruitment, mixed ability (and ages) within choirs, and how they and their churches have managed recently. All SSLSO members received a link to join the discussion and members of other local societies were also invited to join if they wished. A note of the event is here.

Online Meeting, Saturday 06/06/2020

On Saturday 6th June an online meeting, entirely informal in nature, was offered as a substitute for the day-trip to Thaxted and Saffron Walden parish churches, which sadly had to be postponed for the usual current reasons. A real shame, as the two towns and churches are very attractive, and in fine weather are glorious to behold. The organs, of course, are very special.

So instead, all members were sent a message via email, asking if they would like an invitation and link to take part in Saturday evening’s  meeting, which took place using the zoom app.  Please find a note of the meeting here.

Keyboard Skills Workshop

Saturday 23rd May (2020) saw our former Chair, Marilyn Harper, lead the Keyboard Skills workshop. This was the Society’s first virtual event, hosted over zoom with four participants and seven observers. Keyboard skills, including transposition, figured bass, sight reading and improvisation are core elements of the three Royal College of Organists’ diplomas. Marilyn recommended starting young if possible! Indeed two of the workshop participants were among our younger members, Ben (aged 11) and Joe (aged 15). Marilyn started the workshop looking at exercises from the books written jointly by Anne Marsden Thomas and Frederick Stocken, Graded Keyboard Musicianship, which she thoroughly recommended. Published in two volumes by Oxford University Press, these provide 5 “lessons” at each of 8 “levels”. Each lesson covers Figured bass, Score Reading, Harmonising a Melody, Transposing and Improvising. Ben and Joe performed admirably, realizing the given chord sequences for figured bass, adding them for harmonization, and transposing melodies up and down a tone. Sight reading followed, which was accomplished equally as well. Next, Alan and Robert looked at transposing a four part hymn tune up or down by one or two semitones, which is a requirement for both the Colleague Diploma (CRCO) and Associateship Diploma (ARCO). Marilyn recommended working through the Hanon studies in different keys, to build up technique skills in transposition, and using a metronome for practice – always count in, and start at a slow tempo and work your way up. The workshop concluded with a discussion over zoom among all present, and we of course expressed our gratitude to Marilyn for a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful workshop.

Visit: Dulwich Festival 2015

‘Come and Join us’ at Christ’s Chapel, Dulwich

ChapelAs part of the Dulwich Festival, the Southwark and  South London Society and  of Organists held an event at Christ’s Chapel to encourage a greater interest in the organ and organ music.

The event was held on the 8th May 2015, between 16.00 and 18.00

The beautiful Chapel with its historic and newly restored organ was opened for people to visit. Members of the Society were available to talk to visitors, demonstrate the organ and let those who wished have a go.

8 DSCF2250_loWe were blessed with a lovely sunny day and there were lots of people walking past the chapel. The sound of the organ attracted a number to come into the building and when the event was explained, many very much liked the idea of a close encounter with the organ – probably of the first kind!

Over 60 visitors came and went,  quite a number sat at the organ console having it explained and making noises. Some were organists and enjoyed the treat of simply playing it.

It was quite clear from the time that  visitors stayed and their enthusiasm and interest, that this event was a great success and in some small way will help grow enthusiasm for the instrument: the photos in the slide show below give some indication of this.

5 20150509_162557Nicky Jones (our Hon Sec) managed the whole thing and Peter Ramell (our Hon Treasurer and  Membership Sec) set about recruiting new members.  Andrew Chadney and John Mitchell (both Committee members) did impromptu performances, sharing the Bach Fantasia (Andy) and Fugue (John) in C minor BWV 537. Andy also played the adagio from BWV 564 to demonstrate  all the reeds on the swell and choir. John played the Trumpet Tune and Air by Purcell from memory.

Our Chair, Marilyn Harper, is of course the current organist at the Chapel.

The Society is grateful to the organisers of the Dulwich Festival for the opportunity to participate, and in particular for the help of Alpha, the  Festival Director, for staying with us and encouraging passersby to come in and also her son, Callum, a pupil of our Chair Marilyn, who knew how to get the organ opened up and closed down and actually started the whole show by playing the opening piece – Pentagram by David Blackwell.

Click  here for a slide show of 17 photos.

Martin Callingham

 Photo used with permission