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

From the Chair of the Society, John Webber:

Welcome to this edition! I hope that you have had a chance of a break from routine over the last month. I did and missed the SSLSO summer social, which seems to have been a roaring success. Here is an account from Martin Callingham, who organised the event:

Our Summer Social

We tried an experiment this summer of running a simple social where members and their friends could meet up for a chat in the sun. We chose St Giles Church’s Crypt (which has a very pleasant open air area) ably supported by Mary who looked after us – especially on the drinks side. The Church is also conveniently located with excellent transport connections and unrestricted parking on Sundays and we were blessed with excellent weather. The idea was to have something more than an ‘organ visit’ and to have an appeal to friends and relative in the summer that would complement our
Annual Autumn Dinner. In all we had 16 people including a spread of friends and relatives. Here are a few comments that were sent in:

I must say I was surprised how well it worked! Lots of conversation (especially about Robert Bowles’ involvement in the new organ at London Bridge Station) and could have gone on a bit longer! Definitely one to repeat

Irene Wolstenholme

Yes, an excellent event, lovely day and venue (thanks Martin) and I think we all needed to relax and unwind together. I think we should do it more often.

Alan Langridge

Lovely to chat on Sunday, and thanks again for organising! You asked for a few words, so here are mine: The SSLSO social was a great success from my point of view. It was lovely to meet just for the purpose of getting to know each other, and though organs and related matters certainly cropped up in conversation, they were not the only thing discussed. We were of course aided by the perfect location of the St Giles’ crypt with suitably shaded outdoor area on a very pleasant summer’s day.

Charlie Warren

The SSLSO Summer Social was very efficiently organised by Martin, in conjunction with the people of St Giles’s Church – a magnificent Gilbert Scott building with an historic organ and a lively music tradition led by our member Ashley Valentine. The famous crypt bar and jazz club leads to the delightful garden, adjacent to the park beyond, and it provided an excellent venue for drinking and socialising in glorious sunshine. I hope it will be possible to return to St Giles’s for future Summer Socials. Huge thanks to Martin and everybody who contributed to such a magnificent occasion.

Norman Harper

Forthcoming events

Saturday, September 10th. – Peter Wright will lead a workshop on the music of Flor Peeters (Cesar Franck will also be represented in his 200th. year). St. John’s, Upper Norwood, 2 Sylvan Road, SE19 2RX from 3.00 to 6.00p.m. Bus route 450 passes the church frequently and links West Croydon and Crystal Palace. We have enough players (six); observers will be very welcome.

Saturday, October 15th. – annual dinner at The Prince Regent, 69 Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0NJ. The menu will be available soon and booking will start after we have sent it out. Speaker: Revd Canon Dr Gordon Giles of Rochester Cathedral. Gordon is a musician too and writes a column in the RSCM’s quarterly magazine. In his earlier life in the priesthood, Gordon was based at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I think that he will have a tale or two.

Saturday, November 19th. – visits to Christ Church, Steatham (on the South Circular A205) and St. Peter’s, Leigham Court Road, starting at 2.30p.m.

The 2023 programme of events is well under way and I’ll keep you informed. Please bear in mind that the postponed trip to The Netherlands is now planned for March 24th. to 28th. I shall be in touch with those people who wanted to go last time, but if other people are interested, please let in touch with me.

Forthcoming Recitals

You all ought to have received Richard Pilliner’s e-mail earlier this week, including a note of recitals in Clapham and Dulwich. If you didn’t get this, let me know quickly. If you want Richard to include a note of other future recitals, please contact him as soon as you can.

Other News

Yet another take on (a small part of) BWV 565:
For all the fame of this piece, I was impressed with the balletic skill involved in fitting in with the precise timing of the interpretation of the notes: see link here.

Amazing Grace:
This hymn, as we know, can be overdone. However, its origins are fascinating: it was written by John Newton, ex-slave trader and thus controversial. He became an Anglican priest and Vicar of Olney in the later eighteenth century, where he collaborated with the depressive poet William Cowper to compile “Olney Hymns”, some of which we use regularly to this day. “Amazing grace” has been spoilt by the hymn books, with the omission of some verses (nothing odd there) and the addition of a final verse which bears no connection to the rest.
Above all, it was first sung on January 1st, 1773, so the coming January sees its 250th. anniversary. It would be great to use it to start the New Year; notes are available from and a link to the original words is given.

The next newsletter will go out on September 28th. If you want a mention of anything to be included, do send me the details.

All good wishes,