Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter August 1st, 2022

From the Chair of the Society, John Webber:


Welcome to Charles Rudge! Charles shares the organ playing at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, in the Sundridge Park area of Bromley. He was in the Choir when I was D of M at St. George’s, Bickley and he’s a useful tenor! We look forward to seeing Charles at some of our meetings.

Our numbers are rising, but we have no upper limit on membership! If you have a friend or colleague who is interested in organ music (whether a player or someone who just likes hearing organs), do suggest membership of SSLSO, as we provide a huge variety of meetings over the course of a year.

Forthcoming events

Many of you will know that we wanted to hold a summer social this year. Last year we tried but didn’t manage it; it seems that the opportunity of getting people together once more can only be good.

The summer social will be NEXT SUNDAY, August 7th. in the crypt of St. Giles’ Church, Camberwell; full details can be found here. Please use the contact form to let us know you can come and ACT QUICKLY!

The following meeting will be on Saturday, September 10th. from 3.00 to 6.00p.m. at St. John’s Church, Upper Norwood, 1 Sylvan Road, SE19 2RX. It will take the form of a workshop directed by Peter Wright, formerly the Director of Music at Southwark Anglican Cathedral. The main theme is the music of Flor Peeters (although Cesar Franck will crop up). We have four players, so one more can probably be fitted in (if I hear very soon). I shall be sending the players a link today about practising in advance. Observers are welcome, whether members of SSLSO or not.

On Saturday, October 15th. we’ll have the annual dinner at The Prince Regent, Herne Hill at 6.30 for 7.00p.m. The speaker will be Revd Dr Canon Gordon Giles of Rochester Cathedral. The menu will be known in September and bookings can be made then. Gordon is very popular and well worth hearing.

Our next meeting will be on Saturday, November 19th. and we’ll be visiting Christ Church and St. Peter’s, two churches in different parts of Streatham, starting at 2.30p.m.

For 2023 plans are well under way:

Monday, February 6th. – Zoom meeting to hear from Anne Marsden Thomas and our member Frederick Stocken about their tutor, the New Oxford Organ Method. There will be time for questions. We have invited the Bromley and Croydon Association to join us.

Monday, March 6th. – AGM at St. George’s, Beckenham High Street, beginning with a short recital by Committee member Charlie Warren. It is not too early to consider joining the Committee, as membership will alter slightly at this meeting. Our Society is doing very well, but we need to have new people on board and you don’t have to wait to be invited.

March 24-28 – trip to The Netherlands, postponed from past year. At some point I’ll chase those of you who had planned to go previously; others will be welcome too, if we have enough local accommodation.

Saturday, May 6th. – Whitstable (three organs to be seen)

Other events have been arranged and some dates are to be finalised yet.


I was saddened to hear of the death of Richard Burnett. Richard and his wife Katrina owned Finchcocks, the wonderful keyboard museum near Goudhurst in deepest Kent. It was open to the public from the 1970s (or 1980s?) and I personally made many memorable visits there, sometimes arranging a private booking for over a hundred enthusiasts. Richard was just ninety when he died on July 8th. and was an inspiration to us all, with his individual sense of fun and his zest for telling everyone about the amazing sounds (and the workings) of his beloved collection of about seventy early piano, fortepianos, harpsichords and other instruments. Richard and Katrina proudly claimed always to have had live music whenever their premises were booked for an outdoor event.

Martin How died last week on July 25th. at the age of 91. I first met him when we went for a meal at The George in Hayes in the late 1960s to discuss how I, as a teenager, could go forward in my role as organist and choir trainer at St. Swithun’s, Hither Green. He was a truly lovely and sincere man of faith. Martin was the RSCM’s Commissioner for The South, which always sounded an enormous role to live out! I recall three day events for young choristers run by Martin at S. Mildred’s, Addiscombe and St. Mary’s, Balham, always between Christmas and the new school term in early January. There was often snow en route! Martin composed well crafted music, often with young voices in mind; he also wrote organ music in a very personal style. He was an incredible human being with a strong faith and he was much loved. He will be much missed by the musicians at Croydon Minster, where both his regular organ playing and performances of his music could so often be heard. You will have received a notification of Martin How’s death last week via Andrew Chadney, our Secretary, in a version from the Bromley and Croydon Association, thanks to Christopher Town.

Richard Seal died on July 25th, aged 86. He was based at Salisbury Cathedral as Director of Music from 1967 – 1996 and introduced the first cathedral girls’ choir in England.

Other news

Congratulations to our member Norman Harper. He has been recognised for his work over many decades in promoting church music by being awarded the ARSCM.

Our good friend Anna Lapwood was excited to hear about an organ at London Bridge Station, as our member Robert Bowles says:

There’s a new arrival at London Bridge Station – a Henry Jones pipe organ. From 1st August it will be freely available for anyone to play.
It’s on the concourse at street level, below the platforms, in a section known as Stainer Street South.
The mover and shaker who made this happen is Martin Renshaw, Organ Builder, who also initiated the founding of a new charity Pipe up for pipe organs.
SSLSO member Robert Bowles is one of the Trustees. It’s attracting a lot of interest from Network Rail Directors, Station Cleaners, and passers by. Anna Lapwood is keen on it! Why not give it a go??

Here is a short extract of Anna playing some JSB in A minor.

Also from Robert Bowles we have news of an organ scholarship at Holy Spirit Church in Clapham:

Orgelbuchlein project

Bach never completed his set of chorale preludes which were based partly on the liturgical year. William Whitehead has commissioned music from 118 composers in an attempt to finish the work begun by The Master. Do look at the website of the project (which is currently being updated).

Also in our area:

Dear friend

I am delighted to announce a concert to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the installation of the organ at All Saints West Dulwich with a recital given by Stephen Disley on Sunday September 18th at 7pm. I am writing to everyone who was involved in the fundraising for a pipe organ at All Saints West Dulwich. These include those who took part in concerts, events such as fundraising dinners and Auctions of Promises, and those who generously donated towards a pipe for the new instrument.

You are all warmly invited to this free anniversary celebration recital and reception. Stephen Disley played for the inaugural recital at All Saints in 2012, and he will be presenting a varied programme of works by Bach, Boellmann, Daquin and Bonnet. You can read more about Stephen on his website

Please see the attached flyer for the concert. There will be a retiring collection towards expenses for the evening and the Timothy Penrose Music Fund, which supports our young musicians at All Saints and future similar events.

Please do let me know if you are able to attend, and how many will be in your party. I look forward to seeing many of you at All Saints on Sunday September 18th.

Best wishes

Ruth Holton (Organist and Director of Music, All Saints, West Dulwich, Lovelace Road, London SE21 8JY)

(How to get there :

The church is between Rosendale Road and Lovelace Road, to the north of the South Circular Road (A205). Parking is available on Lovelace Road and Rosendale Road. Nearest buses : 3, 2, 432, 68, 468, P13. All Saints is 10 minutes walk from Tulse Hill and West Dulwich stations.)

Do send Richard Pilliner notices of recitals, the sooner the better.

To conclude

The next newsletter will go out on Thursday, September 1st. You are welcome to send something for inclusion.