08 My Church December 2015

Happy Christmas, everybody!


I have been Director of Music at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich twice: 1993-7 and again since 2003. The main Sunday service is a Sung Mass at 10a.m. with choir.  The junior section is twelve strong and usually sings at two services each month.  The adults (10-15, occasionally more)  are there every week.  We have an anthem and usually a psalm with a cantor, plus other bits and pieces for choir members, such as an introit and hymn descants.  Sometimes the opening music is not an organ voluntary, but an instrumental piece (often by a young person) or a choir solo or a short anthem.  The Junior Choir is well involved in these solos.  Four Junior Choir members have diocesan awards, as have also several of the adults.  We sing the Fauré Requiem at All Souls’ Tide and occasional cathedral services, sometimes with friends joining us.  Plainsong is used regularly and we cover many styles of composition, but the music is mainly traditional.

I have made the Choir my priority and am very fortunate St Johnsin having a team of assistant organists who do most of the playing, by being available from time to time: Nicky Jones, Neil Stevenson, Marilyn Harper, Harry Bramma, Emily Elias, Andrew Baars and, more recently, Niall Baxter and Charlie Warren.

The organ is a three manual Walker of 1985, restored in 1995, but actually the property of Trinity Laban Conservatoire, but on permanent loan as it is surplus to Trinity‘s requirements since they moved to Greenwich.  We have had this since 2011.Click o0n the organ picture to get its specification from the National Pipe Organ Register.

Each summer there is a series of recitals: in 2016 these will be on May 7th. (me), July 2nd. (Emily) and September 17th. & 24th. (Richard Pilliner, who will be playing the Six Sonatas of J S Bach).

The Beckenham Junior Choir and Youth Voices

I started Beckenham Junior Choir in 1993 as a means of encouraging young people to sing outside school hours.  It is amazing what can be achieved!  Over the years that has been tremendous loyalty and several singers have gone on to take their music further.  Many of the singers have been pianists for the Choir as well; from time to time some of them play other instruments in our many concerts.  We have the benefit of adult musical support: Stuart Kale (international opera singer) coaches the young people and Mark Edwards is our regular guitarist.  A few Choir parents join us for some of our songs.  We sing folk music, pop music, classical repertoire with a smattering of church music.

Beckenham Youth Voices began in 2004 in response to the need to provide further singing for our 11 year olds when they would otherwise have had to leave.  The sound of this older group (aged 11-18) is very satisfying and they have been growing in confidence.

The two choirs sing a mix of musical types: folk, popular songs, items from shows or musicals, classical pieces – and even some church music! However, although the older choir joins my gathering of groups for Choral Evensong at Southwark and Rochester Cathedrals every other year, it is unusual for either group to be involved with a church service. So it was an exception that this year on the 29th November they both came together in the Advent Carol Service at St John’s. These services are much rarer than the Christmas ones that everyone knows about but are rich in themes and there is plenty of material to be used.

The event gave the young people  from Beckenham  a chance to do something different; it also took away some of the pressure on my very busy church choir.

advent candlesIt has been good to involve the parents of a few of the children, together with personal friends, over the last few years. Good for the parents to have an opportunity of joining in but also good for the children to hear four-part  texture which we don’t  otherwise have.

To hear an see the children doing their final rehearsal, click on the picture of the Advent candles or on the link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/0JjMyfpHeao

The film is 7 minutes long

John Webber

 Choir members

 BECKENHAM JUNIOR CHOIR: Claudia Adams, Malachi Adams, Nathaniel Bates Fisher, Eve Battley, Caleb Carpenter, Maya Channing, Joe Davies, Samuel Draisey, Nehara Fernando, Ella Fraser, Olivia Fraser, Georgina Glynn, Aaron Gunaseelan, Aashni Gunaseelan, Sophie Hall, Elena Harwood, Steven Harwood, Rachael Leary, Alexia Moren-Rosado, Alessandro Mutti, Amelia O’Keeffe, Sheron Piremi, Dionysios Sevastakis, Nikola Treigute, Zara Eden Wynter.
 BECKENHAM YOUTH VOICES:  Zachary Bates Fisher, Ivan Berdnikov, Chloé Beroud, JJ (Joshua) Carpenter, Miriam Carpenter, Elle Cousins, Ben Davies, Oliver Farrell, Sabrina Giampieri-Smith, Tiziri Hadj-Mahsoud, Chloe Harwood, Malini Kendall, Anna Porritt, Marie Purrman-Charles, Stella Rosen-Morado, Grace Westgarth.

Interested in joining either of the the Choirs?

Go to http://www.beckenhamjuniorchoir.co.uk

Interested in more of John’s choir music?

John also runs an adult choir, the Elm Singers which is performing at St John’s, East Dulwich,  SE22 9AT on the 11th December 2015.


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