Southwark and South London Society of Organists Newsletter February 1st, 2023

From the Chair of the Society, John Webber:

Welcome to our newsletter. Since the last one, we have had a quiz on Zoom, which, although not wonderfully attended, was fun and may be worth repeating in due course. Thanks to Sarah, Mike, Norman and Marilyn for setting the questions.

(Do see the mention of today’s Radio 3 Choral Evensong further down this letter.)

Forthcoming events

The plans for the year have been well advertised; in February we have another Zoom meeting next Monday, February 6th. at 7.00p.m. Our member Frederick Stocken, with renowned teacher Anne Marsden Thomas, has written the New Oxford Organ Method (so NOOM ZOOM!), a tutor for students. There will be a chance to have an analysis of the book with the authors, followed by time to ask questions. I have the link for this already; it will be sent out nearer the time. The Bexley and the Bromley & Croydon Associations will be joining us.

Saturday, February 18th. – 2.30p.m. Come to Penge Congregational Church, 172 High Street, SE20 7QS to hear several of our members place an organ piece. Players have been invited to consider choosing music by a composer with either an anniversary this year or one with a local connection. Some have managed to do this with some original thinking. All welcome, including any friends who are not members of SSLSO. (There are hopes that the Penge Festival in June may offer another chance for members to play again on the lovely three manual organ.) Thanks to Alan Langridge for the organisation of the Penge recitals.

Monday, March 6th. – 7.30p.m. Annual General Meeting at St. George’s, Beckenham High Street. Our member Charlie Warren is Director of Music there and will play for us. The meeting will follow, plus tea and coffee and an opportunity to play. I am stepping down; Norman Harper and Charlie are also coming off the Committee. We have a proposal for someone to replace me as Chair of the Committee and there are spaces for (I think) two on the Committee. Please give serious consideration to this; the Committee is strong and the year’s events are well planned, but this situation needs to be continued and preparation made beyond 2023.

Saturday, May 20th. Please note that the harpsichord recital by Gilbert Rowland at 2.30p.m. will now be taking place at St. Augustine’s Church, Honor Oak.

For a full list of events this year, please see the calendar which was sent out before Christmas.

Membership News

Marilyn Nicholson, who has hosted our annual concerts in Penge for many years, was given Honorary Membership of SSLSO recently, following her move to Glasgow. She says:

“Dear John, I’m absolutely thrilled to have been given honorary membership in the SSLSO! What an honour and a tribute! My family are also impressed and pleased. It was my great privilege to make the lovely Lewis organ better known to so many people. You know how much I love that organ! I was so delighted to see the enjoyment organists had in playing it and the appreciation of the audiences in hearing it. I’m very glad that the society is continuing to hold the annual composite recital at PCC, and that the church is agreeable to welcome you. Please pass on my thanks and gratitude to the committee. All best wishes to you and my friends in the SSLSO, and happy music-making in 2023. With much affection, Marilyn.”

Welcome to a new member, Hilary Payne. A bit about Hilary, in her own words:

“I live in Camberwell. I learned the piano as a child in Lancashire. As an adult in London in the late 1990s I attended group evening classes in the organ for a couple of years at St Columba’s Pont Street through the City Lit and practised at St John’s East Dulwich and St James Clerkenwell. 25 years later, on Christmas Eve 2022, I spotted the organ in London Bridge station and sat down to play. This brought back my enthusiasm for the organ and since Christmas I’ve found Marilyn Harper through the RCO website, arranged my first lesson, and discovered the S&SLSO!”

Other Events

Bloomsbury – Our member Ian Clifford was a number of SSLSO friends who attended the organ day there last Saturday. He says: “The title of the day was ‘Town Hall and Trocadero’ which as it suggests meant predominantly theatre and cinema music. There were eight organists in total, either playing or giving organ related talks. Firstly, three up and coming youngsters played one classical piece each, then Daniel Greenaway, organ scholar at Keble college, Oxford gave a classical recital followed by Philip Norman who talked about organ design and transcriptions. This was followed by Simon Gledhill who gave a scintillating display with things like von Suppe’s ‘Light Cavalry Overture’ and Ponchielli’s ‘Dance of the Hours’ after which Richard Brasier gave a talk on Cesar Franck’s organ works. The superb finale was played by Richard Hills with a very varied programme ranging from pieces by Arthur Sullivan and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Percy Whitlock and Roger Quilter. Both Simon Gledhill and Richard Hills made the Brindley & Foster organ work very hard indeed and it showed what a adaptable, versatile and quite powerful instrument it is. The day was made even better by the very modestly priced Central Baptist Church buffet and I came away having had a thoroughly enjoyable day.”

IAO London Organ Day – this will be on Saturday, March 11th. from 10.00 a.m. at Chelsea Old Church.

There are times when I can be snowed under with so many events which could be promoted. Through SSLSO members are frequently sent additional information, e.g. newsletters from other societies and associations, as well as announcements about specific events. The Bromley and Croydon Association’s newsletters are forwarded to you; their Hon Sec. is thorough in giving note of many events in their and our area, so I don’t always manage to repeat them.

We try hard to let everyone know of events involving our members; Richard Pilliner will always do his best to publicise recitals, but he needs to be told about them: please see our contact page if you wish to let him know of an upcoming event.

Below we have news from members Ashley Valentine (based at St. Giles, Camberwell) and, before that, two pieces of news about Anna Lapwood.

Today’s Choral Evensong on Radio 3 (recorded recently) is directed by Anna Lapwood, who was our special guest a year ago. It will be broadcast at 4.00p.m. and then available on BBC Sounds.

From the Chapel of Pembroke College, Cambridge, to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren.

  • Introit: O nata lux (Lucy Walker) – first broadcast
  • Responses: Kerensa Briggs
  • Office hymn: The Church’s one foundation (Aurelia)
  • Psalm 118 (Ives, Goss)
  • First Lesson: 1 Samuel 1 vv.19b-28
  • Magnificat Primi toni a 8 (Palestrina)
  • Second Lesson: Hebrews 4 vv.11-16
  • Nunc dimittis (Paweł Łukaszewski)
  • Anthem: Seek him that maketh the seven stars (Jonathan Dove)
  • Hymn: Glorious things of thee are spoken (Abbots Leigh)
  • Voluntary: Archangels (St Michael) (Frederick Stocken)

Anna Lapwood (Director of Music)
Joe Beadle, Andreana Chan (Organ Scholars)

Recorded 19 January.

Anna is also playing with the London Mozart Players at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on Saturday, April 22nd. at 7.30p.m.

The organ as you’ve never seen it before as Anna Lapwood takes her camera down the pipes:

  • Avril Coleridge-Taylor
  • Britten Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
  • Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3, ‘organ’

Anna Lapwood organ
Anna Duczmal-Mroz Conductor

Sometimes our intrusive thoughts get the better of us and all we can think when we look at the gigantic pipes on organ is: ‘Could I fit in there?’
In this concert, presenter and organist Anna Lapwood turns our pipe dreams into reality by, quite literally, taking us inside the pipes with her camera, revealing the hidden side of the instrument we never get to see. Performing on Fairfield Hall’s organ, Anna plays Saint-Saëns’ colossal Symphony No.3, nicknamed the ‘organ’ symphony for its fiery showcase of the organ as it depicts the end of the world.
This concert will also include Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. This piece is a lot like a puzzle. It begins with the entire orchestra playing the main theme, showing us the full picture much like the image on the box. The puzzle is then shaken and tipped onto the stage, scattered throughout the different instruments as they work together to put it back together. Bit by bit, each instrumental section plays around with the theme, showing off their different personalities and abilities as they rebuild the music and show us exactly what ingredients make up the orchestral cocktail.

From our member Ashley Valentine –

Just in case this is of interest to members both in SSLSO and elsewhere at some point – we’re taking Organoke to Battersea Arts Centre in February. I know this is very much the pop / commercial side of organ performance if there is such a genre – but some folks may be interested. There’s a little bit about it all below – if you think it’s sharable!
Organoke started at in St Giles’ as a bit of fun but I’m really hoping it could work elsewhere – and most importantly – use the organ for something which involves lots of non-church people – can you believe, the BAC organ hadn’t been played since the summer when I practised on it the other week. Anyway – see what you think below!

Book Tickets:
Follow @organoke
Find out more:

ORGANOKE is taking over BATTERSEA ARTS CENTRE in February: one of the biggest venues outside of the West End!
Please join us in the spectacular GRAND HALL and the gigantic star of the show: THE BAC ORGAN! ORGANOKE BAC_TOXIC_FINAL.mp4

If you have never experienced ORGANOKE you are in for a treat!
Almost impossible to describe, it is “a bit like the end of a wedding reception with the boring bits taken out “ and is an absolutely, euphorically joyful experience.
We invite you all to join us as we sing your heart out to Karaoke Classics to the top of our voices with the star of the show: THE BAC ORGAN and a full live band, with the inimitable Ida Barr: A rapping pensioner in all her faded Edwardian grandeur will get you on your feet singing like you’re Freddie Mercury on tour, as we turn the organ up to 11 for a joyous night of en-masse singing of your favourite classic “choons”!
Can’t sing? No problem – everyone else will drown you out!
Won’t sing? We guarantee you will be by the end of the night…
Desperate to sing solo? You’ll have a chance to take centre stage and channel your inner Mariah…if you want to!
We have no idea what will happen on the night…the show is literally in your hands…but we can guarantee you will leave on a euphoric-like high you’ve never known before.
Suitable for all ages, all singers, and, most importantly, all fun-loving party people!
Don’t believe us? Check out our video from Summer 22.
This is our biggest show to date and we would love to fill the Grand Hall with singers who know how to have a good time.

The next newsletter will be sent out on March 1st. Do send in comments and news to me in advance. I hope to see many of you on Zoom next Monday and again at Penge on February 18th.

With all good wishes,