Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter December 30th, 2022

From the Chair of the Society, John Webber:

Welcome to the last newsletter of the year! I hope that your Advent and Christmas services have gone well.


The most recent member to join is Niall Baxter, who is a school music teacher and organist. Niall lives in Streatham and we were pleased to have his company for the visit to two churches near him on November 19th.

2023 events

Our calendar was kindly produced by member Bridget West and sent to members a few weeks ago; Richard Pilliner resent it with his Recital Round Up earlier this week. Here is information on the first few meetings:

Monday, January 16th. at 7p.m. – SSLSO quiz on Zoom. Do join us! Four of our members are setting questions, some on music and some not. A lighthearted event, for which the link will be sent nearer the time. Members of other local societies have been invited to join us.

Monday, February 6th. at 7p.m. – NOOM Zoom; our member Frederick Stocken has produced the New Oxford Organ Method, a tutor for teaching, with Anne Marsden Thomas. Meet him as he analyses the thinking behind the book. A joint meeting with the Bexley Association.

Saturday, February 18th. at 2.30p.m. – composite recital at Penge Congregational Church, 172 High Street, SE20 7QS. Members are invited to play a piece of organ music on the large three manual instrument. Please let me know if you would like to be included; we ask for a maximum of six minutes per player. Please let me have the title and composer of your chosen piece, with a few words about the music (e.g. “in two sections, fast and slow”) and a sentence about your musical background (e.g. current church position or who taught / teaches you). I may shorten the details! Alan Langridge or I shall contact you to arrange a time for you to practice in advance. Do reply quickly on this, as we have may have to limit the number of players if there is a large response.

Monday, March 6th. at 7.30p.m. – Annual General Meeting at St. George’s Church, Beckenham High Street (near the Junction Station). Charlie Warren will play a couple of pieces and the Meeting will follow. Tea and coffee will be available and there will be a chance to try the four manual organ. I shall have completed my term of office at the Meeting; Norman Harper and Charlie Warren will also be stepping down from the Committee. Norman and Charlie (“especially Charlie,” says Norman!) have been largely responsible for the work associated with our Education Day with Anna Lapwood last January and with the applications for bursaries (which has had a phenomenal response). We are now keen to encourage SSLSO members with an interest in these aspects of our work to consider whether they would like to join the Committee, in order to take a leading part in this role. Norman and Charlie are willing to offer advice if it is requested.

The Netherlands – trip on March 24th. to 28th. – those going will receive a brief note from me later today. This event is full.

Directory of Members and Survey

Several of you have responded to this; please reply as soon as possible if you’ve not. It could be to your advantage to have names of players who can cover your absences, midweek or Sundays, for example. Please find the link here.

TV Programme

The programme on organs was typically poorly timed for broadcast on Christmas Eve, halfway through the evening, just as we were on our way to a Midnight service, preceded by a choir practice! Thank goodness that it could be recorded for viewing later. It was stated by Martin Renshaw that one church closes permanently every day in this country. Martin is trying to save as many organs as he can, many of them either in a good state or capable of being restored, but there is not always the time and money to do the work. Several organs are transported to France or further afield, but by no means all. The programme can still be seen on (I think) BBC Sounds (as they insist on calling it). Follow the link here.

I’ll send the next letter on February 1st. Your thoughts are welcome.

Best wishes for 2023,