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Memorial service for Andrew Morton
Many people came to St. Mary’s Church, Bridgwater on the afternoon of Tuesday, 24th July, where a memorial service for Andrew Morton was held. Andrew died on a recent visit to Leipzig, to the annual Bachfest in the city.
The tribute from a lifelong friend, Robert Bolland, contained surprises for many people. Andrew, so quiet and unassuming, had been a brilliant scholar, specialising in Chinese. After taking a first-class degree at Wadham College, Oxford, and gaining an M.Litt. degree as well, he worked mainly as a translator, spending a number of years in Taiwan. Following semi-retirement to Somerset, Andrew continued to increase his knowledge of European languages: he had, for instance, taught himself Romanian, and had been working on a translation in that language when he died. On two occasions, he had travelled to Russia to live for two or three weeks in a monastery, singing with their choir in the daily round of services in Russian, another language that he had mastered himself. Apparently, he was competent in ten European languages.
Andrew had a lifelong interest in music, playing the violin, and singing in many choirs. In Somerset, he sang tenor for many years with Bridgwater Choral Society, and was a pillar of St. Mary’s choir, loyally singing morning and evening after cycling in from Puriton. He particularly enjoyed evensong, and learnt the settings of canticles and responses regularly sung. In addition, he joined The Southern Cathedral Singers, an R.S.C.M. choir, and regularly toured local cathedrals to sing with them. I remember on one occasion, when the choir was singing at Salisbury, I asked him how he was getting there, when he didn’t own a car.
“Oh, I shall cycle.” he answered with a smile.
Doug Smith, the organist of St. Mary’s, played the gathering music, and just before the service, I played Bach’s Piѐce d’Orgue, which was a particular favourite of Andrew’s. A choir of some 40 singers gathered, made up from groups of singers with whom Andrew was associated. We sang the Agnus Dei, from Fauré’s Requiem, with its lovely tenor melody. During the service, the choir also sang The Russian Kontakion for the Departed, and the Nunc Dimittis to a simple chant. Miles Quick played the service, which included an exquisite Bach chorale prelude during a period of quiet reflection. There were two rousing hymns for everyone, sung with traditional words. Andrew abhorred the current habit of attempting to “modernise” the words, and in so doing, losing the elegance and rhetorical power of the original words!
SOCA has reason to be very grateful to Andrew for all that he did while he held the post of secretary. He led from the front, organising musical events and recitals, and devising a modern website. I am sure that, like myself, all SOCA members will miss him, but will be grateful for his friendship over many years, and count it a privilege to have known him.
REVIEWS OF RECENT EVENTS etc:
Above: Crediton Parish Church
Above: The console of the Hauptwerk organ at Nichols Nymet House
SOCA visit to Crediton Parish Church and Nichols Nymet House
Saturday 16th June 2018
This was a most enjoyable day and it was fascinating to visit two very different instruments, both in their own way excellent examples of their type.
The Crediton organ was built in 1921 by Harrison & Harrison of Durham. It was renovated in 2001 by Michael Farley, with the addition of a splendid 32′ Double Ophicleide. The beautiful and elegant console has that classic English feel, as refined and comfortable as a Bentley. Everything feels right and is just where it should be for maximum ease of playing, and subtlety of registration. The latest electronic controls for the piston memories etc are discreetly hidden behind a wood panel. We were warmly welcomed with refreshments by Mark Perry, the resident organist, who demonstrated the colours of the instrument for us. We then all enjoyed a chance to play and to wander round this mammoth church, savouring the acoustics and ambience.
Following a scenic route into Devon, we enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch at Nichols Nymet House, set in deep rural green-ness with views of rolling countryside. We were able to recline in comfort in the organ hall, close our eyes and be immediately transported to Hereford Cathedral, or a roaring Cavaillé-Coll in France, or a sparklingly clear continental Baroque instrument, all without ever leaving the sofa. The Hauptwerk software which makes this possible (together at NNH with some decidedly ‘high-end’ speakers and a floor-shaking sub-woofer) is a remarkable leap forward in electronic organ technology which gives a highly effective and slightly spooky realism to its Dead Ringers-style imitations of famous instruments. And it can all be run from a laptop and electronic keyboard! That said, Paul Goodman, our delightful and welcoming host, has connected an impressive draw-stop 4-manual console – more familiar ground for most organists than selecting virtual stops on a touch-screen!
Many thanks to our hosts and especially to Derek Jones our Secretary for master-minding the arrangements, and herding the organists.
Report by Miles Quick
Mini-Recital and talk on European Organs with illustrations by Andrew Carter
Wednesday 6th June 2018
Parish Church of St Peter and All Hallows, West Huntspill
Following the success of his talk and illustrations at the SOCA AGM and lunch, Andrew was persuaded to give a similar talk with illustrations both musical and pictorial at this splendid church. In addition, this time we were treated to some live performances on the resident pipe organ of the church – built by Osmond and restored by Percy Daniel. In the generous acoustics of this spacious church this fine instrument made some delightful sounds in response to Andrew’s inventive and dextrous playing.
The pieces presented were as follows – owing to the original and fresh choice of repertoire (well suited to the instrument) we reproduce the programme in full:
Selection of Dances (Venice, 1551)
Bourree – Conrad Michael Schneider (Ulm, mid C18)
Allegro from Organ Concerto in B flat – Thomas Arne (London, mid C18)
Prelude in D – Georg Wilhelm Saxer (Luneburg/Lubeck, mid C18)
These live performances were followed by a virtual tour of Europe focussing on various town and city organs, with Andrew as our tour guide. As the organ is often one of the most complex, expensive and skilfully created artefacts in a town – every one unique in its construction and setting, and often a focus of civic pride – this was a most satisfying survey. Our guide also gave us some delightful behind-the-scenes anecdotes, such as a description of the lavish Organist’s sitting room behind the organ loft, high at the west end of the church of St Sulpice, Paris: sometimes known as ‘Le salon de Widor’, this gives the Organist a welcome opportunity to retire to more comfortable surroundings during the sermon, and at other suitable times.
The church provided excellent hospitality and we are most grateful to our Secretary, Derek Jones, for organising and hosting the event.
Report by Miles Quick
Andrew Carter relishes the organ at West Huntspill
SOCA trip to The Royal Albert Hall, Tuesday 15th May 2018
On 15th May, members of SOCA and friends took a minibus trip to London, to attend A Grand Organ Celebration. We went for the day to make the most of the visit, and the weather co-operated, providing a beautiful, warm and sunny Spring day. Members occupied themselves during the day visiting various sights, and John Crump even managed to fit in a lunch-time recital at St. George’s, Hanover Square. In the evening, we joined the four and a half thousand people in the hall for the recital, given jointly by David Briggs, Wayne Marshall and Olivier Latry.
Though the programme predicted that the first item would be Bach’s Dorian Toccata and Fugue, Wayne Marshall played the other D Minor Toccata and Fugue. From a personal angle, I was disappointed, since the Dorian Toccata is a much finer piece, and its construction would have displayed the organ’s capacity to match choruses from different manuals. The piece we heard, however, had obviously been chosen for its impact, and didn’t disappoint. The opening diminished chords held over a pedal D, played on full organ, demonstrated just how much power was available.
There were giant screens either side of the instrument, showing close-ups of the console, and the players at work. After the first item, Tom Daggett, the M.C. for the evening, invited Michael Broadway, who maintains the instrument, to give the audience an idea of its interior. He went inside the organ, with a cameraman, and gave a conducted tour, while Wayne Marshall demonstrated some of the sounds available. Chris Broadway’s appearance in the central arch, as in the photograph, gives an idea of the physical size of the organ.
Wayne Marshall then played Liszt’s Fantasia on B.A.C.H., manoeuvring his way through its difficulties with almost arrogant ease, and giving an idea of the contrasts of sound on offer. His place at the console was taken by Olivier Latry, principal organist of Notre Dame. He played Mozart’s F minor Fantasia with consummate musicianship, and with dazzlingly nimble pedalwork. This piece allowed us to hear some softer flute and string sounds, as well as the grandeur of the fuller organ. He followed this with Thalben-Ball’s Pedal Fantasia on a Theme of Paganini: a fun piece, though as Latry admitted before he played it – “It is difficult!” Playing four notes chords with two feet is an interesting process! The first half concluded with Latry starting off Widor’s Toccata, and being joined at the console by Wayne Marshall in a kind of baton-passing exercise: David Briggs then made his first appearance, and the piece finished with all three playing at the same console.
The RAH organ is a concert instrument, and so the second half was designed to show off its capacity to be involved in orchestral music, and its ability to replace an orchestra. Wayne Marshall played “Rhapsody in Blue” on one of the two pianos on the stage, with David Briggs supplying the orchestral part on the organ. The soloist even went off-piste with some extra improvisation on Gershwin’s original. David Briggs continued with his transcription of Ravel’s “Mother Goose” suite, which gave an opportunity for us to hear an amazing range of sounds: I remember particularly the sumptuous, velvety sounds of the organ’s string choruses, very different from anything found on a church organ.
After a movement from a Ravel piano concerto, the concert ended with a remarkable joint improvisation, with Olivier Latry on the organ, and the other two players on pianos. The theme, introduced on the organ, was the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. There followed about fifteen minutes of stupendous playing, with the theme tossed between instruments, and developed in fascinating ways: perhaps a demonstration of telepathy between three outstanding musicians.
It was a long day, but the minibus was comfortable, and took off the pressure of driving, and finding somewhere to park.
Report by John Bodiley
Footnote: Earlier in the day, hundreds of schoolchildren had been in the RAH to hear the organ demonstrated: a golden opportunity to interest another generation in the organ. What are we doing about it in Somerset?
Day for Aspiring Organists with Rosemary Field (in association with RSCM)
St John’s Church, Park Street, Taunton
Sat 14th April 2018
Report and photos pending
Recital by Andrew Hinkley Organ & Imogen Davies Soprano
St Mary’s Parish Church, North Petherton, 3 pm Sun 5th November 2017
A large and enthusiastic audience enjoyed the “Bangers ‘n Mass” concert at St Mary’s Church, North Petherton on November 5th. Andrew Hinkley has been Organist at St Mary’s since 1963, and Imogen Davies joined the choir when she was five, later studying at Bridgwater College and Plymouth University. Andrew’s skills at arranging and composing were amply demonstrated with an arrangement for soprano and organ from Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, and View from Dancing Hill from his The Levels Suite for organ. Imogen’s sure technique did justice to her programme of music by Malcolm Archer, Harold Darke, Cesar Franck, Elizabeth Poston, Howard Goodall and, in a lighter mood, a good selection of music from various shows. Andrew ably demonstrated his familiarity with the St Mary’s organ with music by Schumann, Pietro Yon, Leon Boellman, and an extremely contemporary piece Toccare Incandescent by Howard Montague which, along with Imogen’s contribution of the Pie Jesu from Malcolm Archer’s Requiem Mass, provided the “Bangers ‘n Mass” of the title of the programme.
This concert was a fitting conclusion to this year’s recital series at St Mary’s. Our thanks are very much due to Andrew Hinkley for organising the whole series along with all the musicians who took part, and The Revd Jane Haslam and the churchwardens. Also for the considerable contribution of £806 towards our Association’s financial support (final figure of £1668-32) for the St Margaret’s Hospice – our chosen charity for the year. I note that there are already plans for an exciting and innovative series at North Petherton for 2018. Don’t miss them – keep an eye on our website!
Report by Ray Willis
SOCA AGM and Annual Lunch at the Ring of Bells, Ashcott, Saturday 4th November 2017
Above: Peter Cox (right), retiring Secretary of SOCA, receiving a gift from our Chairman Ray Willis on behalf of all members, thanking him for his tireless and splendid work in communication, fixing, galvanising and keeping us all in touch. Peter has also been the enterprising Music Director at Creech St Michael Parish Church. Thank you, Peter – we will greatly miss you, and we wish you, Judith and Megan all the very best in Stratford-on-Avon!
Below: Peter with one of SOCA’s most loyal and well-behaved members
Below: Andrew Carter who gave a fascinating talk for members at our AGM. This was beautifully illustrated with photographs and recordings of European Organs he had visited and played during his Foreign Office career.
For an interesting article by John Bodiley on Penzance and the Hauptwerk system please click Articles
SOCA visit to Bristol, Saturday 7th October 2017
On 7th October some 9 members of SOCA spent a very enjoyable day exploring 3 significant organs in Bristol.
Starting at St Mary Redcliffe, we were privileged to hear and play this fine instrument. Then, similarly, on to Christchurch in the City, and ending at the Cathedral. We had ample time for everyone to try out repertoire which ranged from Couperin to Guilmant, Bach to Bridge.
Many thanks to Andrew Kirk at St Mary Redcliffe, Jonathan Price at Christchurch and Mark Lee at Bristol Cathedral for their generosity and encouragement. Special thanks to Peter, our Secretary, for arranging a wonderful day out, which was very much appreciated by all who attended.
Report by Hilary Shaw
Organ Recital by Stephen Price
St Mary’s Parish Church, North Petherton, Sat 23rd September 2017
Recently appointed as Organist and Director of Music for the Minehead Parish of St.Michael’s, St.Andrew’s and St.Peter’s, Stephen Price made a welcome return to North Petherton for his recital on Saturday September 23rd.
The programme began with a confident Te Deum Prelude by Marc-Antoine Charpentier followed by two quieter pieces by Theodore Dubois. A gentle Cantilene religieuse featuring a restrained swell cornopean, and Petite pastorale champenoise offering soft flowing imitative phrasing.
John Stanley’s Voluntary in G minor for manuals only, demonstrated Stephen’s experienced knowledge in his choice of stops, producing an authentic C18th cornet sound used effectively for the nimble fingered passages. Walter Gideon Webber (1893-1977) was organist at two London churches and latterly at Broadmead Chapel in Bristol. His Trumpet Tune on ‘Lobe in Herren’…..(Praise to the Almighty), was published in 1956 and as we were now halfway through the programme, Stephen informed the audience this piece would be played using the Tuba stop, to prevent anybody from ‘nodding off’.
With harvest festival approaching, an appropriate choice for the next item was Variations on ‘St.George’ by Cunningham Woods. The penultimate variation featured the ‘Come ye thankful people, come’ tune, heavily dictated on the manuals underpinned by some energetic pedalling.
Two contrasting pieces then followed by Alexandre Guilmant. Melody featuring the soft strings and flutes with a discreet use of the tremulant, and a dramatic Grand Chorus with a fugal ending.
The cradle song Berceuse by Louis Vierne is probably his most performed work, dedicated to his then seven year old daughter Colette. This skilful melodic construction with shifting harmonies was sensitively interpreted by Stephen, attracting an enthusiastic round of applause. The recital concluded with Choeur Triomphale in D by Henry Hackett – a rousing composition ending with fugal sections and interjected Tuba fanfares for which the recitalist coaxed the fullest sound from the organ’s 40 speaking stops and for the final chord.
A vote of thanks was given by the Rev. Jane Haslam to Stephen Price for his varied and delightful choice of music, and invited an appreciative audience to enjoy the delicious refreshments provided at the back of the church.
Report by Andrew Hinkley
Mind the Gap – Cover the Action – A short report
Tuesday 12th September 2017, St Michael’s Church, Creech St Michael
John Bodiley and Ray Willis gave of their time and expertise on Tuesday 12 September 2017 to introduce a small group of us to the art of improvisation. Many useful suggestions and techniques which are relatively simple in essence emerged.
John focussed on extending hymn-playing to cover awkward silences during services. The key to this is learning the hymns so that you can play them from memory and in different keys. He advocated making a practice of learning hymns so that you can focus on the words and in order to be able to use the tune to improvise in gaps.
When improvising, playing a single line in unison will enable you to finish on a note other than the tonic and allow a key change. Also a different mood can be achieved by changing the key from major to minor or vice versa. A tune in the same rhythm as the first line of the hymn will be recognisable but different. Practising modulations at a keyboard is a worthwhile exercise. Sequences changing key over a pedal note with the tune in the right hand and almost any combinations in the left will work on the organ, provided on soft stops.
Ray focussed on free improvisation of short pieces. He emphasised the need for form in the music – something like ABA. It is important to know keys and modes well. (Information on modes can be found on the Classic FM website.) Discovering and using chord sequences is necessary. Broken chords can give a different feel. It is worth studying favourite composers’ work to see what they do and to emulate it.
A number of members kindly offered to be “guinea pigs” and to try the suggestions made. The ladies of St Michael’s Church also kindly offered refreshments both before and after the event including tea, coffee and an array of cakes. Thanks to all involved and especially to John and Ray.
Report by Peter Cox
SOCA Concert at St. John’s Church, Wellington on Sunday afternoon, 17th September 2017
A large, appreciative audience gathered at St. John The Baptist Church, Wellington, on the afternoon of Sunday, 17th September, to listen to a varied and entertaining concert given by Wallscourt Brass, from Bristol, and John Young, the organist at St. John’s.
Wallscourt Brass Quintet was formed about 12 years ago, by a group of amateur brass players who happened to work at Hewlett-Packard. Today, two of the original members still play in the group, and the quintet now consists of two music teachers, and three amateur players. The quintet began with arrangements of pieces by Gabrieli and Handel, and moved on to a version of songs by Gershwin, which featured Alice Bodiley on trombone, playing Summertime. Later in the concert, the group played arrangements of music by Peter Warlock, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mozart.
John Young added two French organ solos to the mix: an Allegro by Guilmant, and Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster, displaying the range and power of the Wellington organ, and the programme included two items for brass and organ – The Procession Of The Nobles, by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Theodore Dubois’ Grand Choeur. The concert ended with an arrangement of Handel’s The Harmonious Blacksmith, which consists of a theme and increasingly complex variations, and finally, a witty arrangement of Hamish MacCunn’s Marmaduke’s Hornpipe.
During the interval, the audience enjoyed tea and cake, and showed their appreciation at the end by donating the sum of £642 for St. Margaret’s Hospice.
Report by John Bodiley
Organ Recital by Robert Millington, Saturday 26 August 2017 at 3.00 pm in North Petherton Church
The latest in the series of recitals at North Petherton was given by Robert Millington, long-standing Organist and Choirmaster of Sidmouth Parish Church. Robert is also a singer, composer and conductor, and has lately become involved in organ building, being part of the team that enlarged the North Petherton organ in 2007, so it was an instrument with which he was familiar.
His programme was sub-titled “Can you manage the feet?” and each of his pieces presented particular challenges for these. Concentrating largely on works from the 19th and 20th centuries, the recital started with Étude Symphonique by Bossi, the initial fanfare on the Tuba stop giving way to a virtuoso pedal part. This was followed by Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D (BWV 532) with its opening pedal scales in the Prelude and closely written pedal work in the Fugue, culminating in the final pedal solo, covering the pedal board from bottom to top.
César Franck’s Cantabile provided a change of mood, with the challenge for the (right) foot being extensive use of the swell pedal. The softer stops on the organ were well demonstrated throughout this charming piece.
There were shades of Flor Peeters in the next piece, the Partita diversa sopra “De Lofzang van Maria“ by the 20th Century Dutch composer Piet Post. A theme and six variations on the Lutheran melody to the Magnificat demonstrated well the colours of the organ, with an impressive pedal solo with double-pedalling as one of the variations.
Another change of mood took us to the well-known Folk Tune, from Percy Whitlock’s Five short pieces, before the fireworks started again, with the Variations de Concert by Bonnet, the last of four variations containing a pedal cadenza requiring quadruple pedalling.
The Psalm Prelude on Psalm 37 (“The meek shall inherit the earth”) by Herbert Howells provided a little light relief before Placere Christe Servulis, a toccata on the plainsong antiphon for All Saints’ Day, by Marcel Dupré, the last piece in the collection “Le Tombeau de Titelouze“. This demonstrated the pedal Clarion and Trombone to their full effect, and brought to a close an enjoyable afternoon’s music, attended by a small but appreciative audience.
Report by Jerry King
Organ Recital at Chard Methodist Church by Ian Heavisides
on Friday 11th August 2017 at 7 pm
This was a well-crafted event which attracted a healthy audience and was well supported both by local church members and by those from further afield. We were warmly welcomed by the Chard Methodist Minister, Rev’d Anna Flindell, and then Ian proceeded to provide a beautifully balanced selection of music which showed the versatility and fine colours of this small but solidly built instrument. At intervals Ian talked compellingly and succinctly about the music which greatly enhanced the engagement of the audience. The length of the concert was also just right and it was good to enjoy refreshments in the adjacent hall at the end.
Highlights of the music included some intriguing short Haydn pieces for musical clock – each a perfect miniature; an intricate Bach Chorale Prelude; and some tasty short English Romantic pieces by Eric Thiman, George Thalben-Ball and John Ireland. Lighter moments were provided by Nigel Ogden and Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély.
The evening passed quickly – always a good sign – and the well-cared-for church and the warmth of its people were greatly appreciated. It was also lovely to find that the organ at this church is fully valued, maintained, and that it takes a prominent part alongside singers and other instruments in the worship.
Report by Miles Quick
Young Organists’ Lunchtime Recital at St John’s Church, Glastonbury
with Organ, Percussion, Voice & Clarinet – Saturday 15th July 2017
This was a truly excellent event featuring young performers from the area who are fully involved in supporting the local church with music – can there be any higher calling than that?
Organists Alexander Henshaw (Former Organ Scholar of St John’s Church and currently Junior Organ Scholar at Wells Cathedral) and his younger brother Orlando performed with great skill on the organ, and there was also beautiful singing from Tilly Whitelock (Head Chorister of St John’s Church) with highly supportive accompaniment from Viola Nagel.
It was a delight to hear Alexander also playing as a percussionist on vibraphone and marimba. Brother Orlando also joined him at one point on the clarinet and there was a splendid fraternal collaboration between these two instruments and people!
Highlights included Tilly’s lovely poised performance of Pretty Polly Oliver, delivered with great clarity and assurance; Orlando’s precise and musical organ playing and phrasing in a prelude by Krebs; and Alexander’s mesmeric playing of Eravie by the contemporary composer and teacher Alexej Gerassimez. This held the Glastonbury audience spell-bound and there was a palpable silence as Alexander made lumps of wood and hammers into a more sensitive, compelling and expressive device of subtle communication than one would have thought possible. Magical!
This concert (given to an encouragingly good number in the audience) was a fitting tribute to all that Derek Dorey has done to promote the musical involvement of young people in church life and worship, as he retires from being Director of Music at St John’s. It was a delight to hear it.
Report by Miles Quick
Organ & Recorder Concert
at Stoke St Gregory Parish Church on Friday 14th July 2017
John Bodiley organ & Frances Webb recorder
On a balmy summer evening we gathered, bathed by sunlight shining on the gold-grey stone through the windows of Stoke St Gregory church, to hear Frances Webb and John Bodiley bring us delights from the recently enhanced organ and recorder.
We were not disappointed. John began with the striking Trumpet Tune by Andrew Carter written for the organ at York Minster. Short and crisp, this piece made a fitting start. He then played a Prelude and Fugue by Buxtehude, preceding it with the tale of both Bach and Handel having declined the opportunity of succeeding Buxtehude in his prestigious position at the Marienkirche in Lubeck because the condition imposed – taking his daughter in marriage – did not suit either of them! The prelude is in three parts including a short fugue, followed by the longer angular fugue.
Two Bach Chorale preludes followed. Strikingly, one, When in deepest need, was very contemplative, written at the end of his life when Bach was blind and bedridden. He dictated it to his pupil and son in law, Altnikol. The other was the well-known Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimm, played with characteristic clarity and accuracy by John.
Frances, with John accompanying, then played for us a Sonatina by the classical Austrian composer Diabelli. This piece came over with charm and delicacy giving us a taste for more recorder to come.
The first part of the concert ended with two pieces written for harmonium by Karg-Elert and Vierne respectively. The second was the well-known cradle song (Berceuse).
An interval provided the opportunity for wine and canapés in the pastoral atmosphere of the churchyard before returning to a recorder divertimento by Bononcini ably played by Frances with John accompanying in harpsichord mode. Bononcini, we were told, came to London in 1720 to serve at the Royal Academy when Handel was its Director.
Two further organ pieces by John followed – a prelude on the hymn tune Slane by the Hungarian Gardonyi, which got the audience humming to the familiar tune, and a bright and lively Toccatina by Hubert Bath.
Frances then played two modern pieces for recorder, the one in blues style based on the pentatonic scale, and the second a rhythmic one based on the Myxolydian mode.
Henrik Andriessen’s Theme and Variations gave the organ a work out with spectacular chords and dramatic changes of dynamic.
The concert ended with Chuckerbutty’s Paean arranged for sopranino recorder and organ. Both players kept perfectly in time when the recorder was combined with flute stops on the organ.
This was a concert by consummate performers and a very pleasant evening ended with an encore written by a 20th century Austrian in the blues style.
Frances is an accomplished musician, teaching piano and violin and has studied recorder with Piers Adams from Red Priest. John has held many organists’ posts while teaching English professionally, and was taught the organ by Michael Nicholas and Stephen Cleobury.
Our thanks to Frances and John, and to the Stoke St Gregory church members for their hospitality, the splendid organ, delightful setting and original canapés. The evening left us wishing for more similar occasions.
Report by Peter Cox
Organ Recital by Ian Heavisides, Saturday 8th July 2017 in North Petherton Church
A stately Prelude & Fugue in F minor (BWV534), written c.1712, opened the recital – showcasing the ingenious counterpoint of J.S.Bach with a five part fugue. An evocative Adagio by Frank Bridge was followed by “the Anniversary Boys” Air by G.Telemann (died 1767), Cantabile in C by Justin Knecht (d.1817) and, from Johann Froberger, (d.1667), a Capriccio for manuals only involving subtle imitative phrasing and alternating 3/4 & 4/4 rhythms. Claude Balbastre’s La Cannonade is an 18th century curiosity and the repeated cannon fire used to the 1888 Minns organ to good effect; unsuitable for a post Eucharist voluntary, but a useful piece to clear the church of a baptism party in under two minutes.
The second half of Ian’s programme was declared a ‘Tuba Free Zone’ with a Pastorale by Zipoli, the elegant Trumpet Minuet of Alfred Hollins, Scherzetto for the Flutes by Eric Thiman, Adagietto from A Little Suite by Malcolm Archer and Villanella by John Ireland. The recital concluded with the ever popular Toccata in G by Theodore Dubois This wqs taken at a sensible pace and was a joy to hear for a small but appreciative audience. The Rev. Eleanor King gave a vote of thanks to Ian Heavisides for his imaginative and delightful recital.
Report by Andrew Hinkley
Recital by SOCA chairman Ray Willis
St Mary’s North Petherton, Saturday 17th June 2017
The light and airy church provided relief from the soaring temperatures outside, and Ray Willis’s varied choice of music felt just right for the season and the weather.
Liszt wrote a choral work based on the Longfellow poem The Bells (of Strasbourg Cathedral), with Excelsior as the Prelude, describing a young man climbing ever higher to his death in the snows, carrying a banner bearing the word Latin word Excelsior (‘onwards and upwards’). The Prelude makes an effective organ piece, and was followed appropriately by Herbert Murrill’s 1949 bell-inspired ‘Carillon’, a lively perpetuum mobile Toccata with short bursts of reed Fanfare.
Born in Balham, Healey Willan flourished in Toronto, but took with him music in the Anglican tradition. Ray Willis chose not to play Bach chorale preludes in this recital because the German hymn tunes are mostly not familiar to British worshippers, but we recognised the tune of ‘Jesu, good above all other’ in Willan’s Prelude on Quem pastores, ‘Jesu, grant me this, I pray’ in Song 13, and ‘Good Christians all, rejoice and sing!’ in Vulpius, Ray Willis effectively demonstrating the varied melody and accompaniment potential of the organ at differing dynamic levels as the preludes progressed.
‘Pastorale’ by the Swiss organist Hans Vollenweider (d. 1993) combined traditional pastoral rhythms and gestures with harmonies redolent of Hindemith, and was followed by Baroque dances from Handel’s opera Alcina, arranged by Ray Willis’s teacher of his youth in Muswell Hill – H.A. Bate – whose fame has been eclipsed by that of his daughter, the Messiaen interpreter Jennifer Bate. Her father’s Handel arrangements are here the bringer to the organ of beguiling dance music appropriate to the sorceress who was Alcina.
Malcolm Archer’s ‘Elegy’, ‘Cantaline’ and ‘Pascal Fanfare’ came over as entertaining pastiche pieces, with the Elegy bringing echoes of Ray Willis’ other formative teacher – George Thalben Ball. At the dawn of the twentieth century Edwin Henry Lemare progressed from being the prodigy from Ventnor to become the world’s highest paid organist of his time, with an eventful life that included landing at San Francisco in the aftermath of the earthquake. His later years were haunted by one little piece amongst his substantial but forgotten oeuvre, which was arranged without permission and given the title Moonlight and Roses – requests for it at his recitals became so persistent it drove him to drink. Ray Willis only hinted at the dubious transformation in his introduction, but in his performance of the ‘Andantino in D flat’ there was a touch of the tibias, cinema-organ-style, in the reprise of the melody. Easthope Martin died just before the advent of the ‘talkies’, and his ‘Evensong’ could be the accompaniment to a silent film set in an English country church of a Sunday evening, romantic and almost nocturnal, and with the tremulant stop specified in the score making an entirely appropriate appearance.
The Elizabethan overtones in Walton’s music for the 1955 film Richard III (arranged by Robert Gower) played on such an apparently perfect summer afternoon made one wonder whether ‘Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer’ has an uneasy topicality?
Ray Willis ended his recital substantially with the passionate Third Choral by Franck, where the reeds on this hot day added a certain French bouquet; and reminding us what could be done with the Minns organ at North Petherton, which must have just about settled in when Franck wrote what was to become his musical last will and testament.
Report by Ian Carson
Practice makes Perfect – or does it?
Talk by Hilary Shaw at St Mary the Virgin, Cheddon Fitzpaine
Tuesday 9th May 2017
Hilary Shaw (SOCA committee member) gave a presentation about this aspect of an organist’s creative life. The attractively situated church at Cheddon Fitzpaine is worth a visit in its own right, and it was made to feel warm and welcoming for the occasion, with refreshments in an interval. The organ is a two manual tracker by Osmond of Taunton dating from about 1900, with a concave straight pedal board and a ratchet swell pedal – a bit of a challenge in other words!
Hilary began with a survey of Organ Tutor books, highlighting that many of the older standard works were male oriented, that the business of practice only occupies a very small section in most of them, and not at the beginning. She supplemented the information with some online sources *, and a handout from the Lyme Regis Organ School.
In the relaxed atmosphere there were dialogues with members over their own experiences – by no means all had taken up the organ before coming of age. This is important because the young have the advantage when it comes to retaining music in the memory. Hilary revealed some of her own disciplines in practice, such as its duration – evidence suggests little correlation between length of practice and quality of result – and of maintaining a regime which includes scales and exercises.
She emphasized that eliminating wrong notes immediately was important for accurate performance, and revealed surprising details of very recent research which proposes that talking out loud (to oneself) during one’s practice can help, and that practising a piece speeded up rather than slowed down can be valuable.
Hilary convinced us that an informed evaluation of our practice techniques would be beneficial both to us and to those who have to listen to our performances.
Report by Ian Carson
Notes provided by Hilary for this talk may be found on the ‘Tuition‘ page of this website.
Visit to Wiltshire – Saturday 25 February 2017
6 organists from SOCA visited 3 organs in central Wiltshire.
We started at St Andrews just off the Market Place in central Chippenham and were welcomed by the former organist David Dewar and the President of the Wiltshire and Bath Organist’s Association, Geoff Oldnall. David gave us a short talk on the organ and played a piece by Weelkes, and a Psalm Prelude by Howells to demonstrate the three manual instrument. The organ boasts a range of interesting colours and members were able to enjoy playing it.
Our next stop was 5 miles down the A4 towards London at St Mary’s Church in the little town of Calne. We were welcomed there by the organist, David Bevan. Over the lunch time period we were able to play the interesting 4 manual Conacher organ. This instrument had previously had 5 manuals. Although in need of some maintenance the organ is interesting and certainly more than adequately fills the church with sound.
Our last stop was a further 12 miles down the A4 at the Chapel of Marlborough College to see, hear and play the 2002 Beckerath organ recently installed there. We were welcomed by the Chapel organist, Ian Crabbe, who gave us a short talk on the instrument. The original organ had been on the rear gallery but the organ was moved to the chancel and the new organ is now located to the north side of the chapel in front of the chancel. Beckerath, who won the contract for the new organ, used about 500 of the original pipes in the new 5000 pipe, 4 manual instrument. The original Bodiley Case was also retained. Ian played for us the Bach Prelude in G BWV 541 to demonstrate the warmth of the principal chorus. He then went on the play Howells’ Psalm Prelude “Out of the depths” to demonstrate the English organ sound achieved by Beckerath. He finished with Guilmant’s March on a Theme by Handel played with a French flavour on the Swell which must have been close to what Guilmant intended. Members then enjoyed playing this magnificent instrument. One was so impressed by the touch that she was heard to say “this instrument teaches you how to leave a note”.
Report by Peter Cox
Moorlinch Parish Church
Members’ Composite Concert of 18th Century English music
On Remembrance Sunday afternoon 13th November a delightful teatime SOCA members concert was held in the timeless beauty of this lovely rural Somerset church (pictured above, with potential audience member). It was a perfect autumn day and the colours were stunning.
The classically elegant Georgian chamber organ made a fresh, crisp sound for the players John Bodiley, Andrew Carter, Miles Quick and Hilary Shaw (pictured above). Music ranging from Stanley and Samuel Wesley to Langlais and Howells, and even Scott Joplin, was convincingly played. A very helpful talk was given by John Budgen, the Diocesan Organ Advisor who had supervised the renovation of this fine instrument. A delicious tea was then enjoyed in the church hall.
Please refer to the Chairman’s Blog for further useful information on Georgian Organs compiled by our chairman, Ray Willis.
Report by Miles Quick
SOCA AGM and Annual Lunch
The Ring of Bells, Ashcott
Saturday 5th November 2016
Our visiting speaker this year was Dr Barry Rose, OBE. He gave a most enjoyable and enlightening talk entitled ‘Walford, George and Me’. This referred to Sir Henry Walford Davies, Sir George Thalben-Ball and Barry himself, who have been the only three musicians to hold the title of ‘Music Adviser to the Head of Religious Broadcasting’ at the BBC. (Barry and George Thalben-Ball are featured in the photograph above). Barry played many fascinating examples including a piece he himself had written on the original motto of the BBC: Nation shall speak peace unto nation. There was also much information on the ‘inside story’ of Radio Three Choral Evensong and the Radio Four Daily Service. There was much beautiful singing. SOCA is most grateful to Barry for his support of the event and for giving us such good entertainment and education!
The lunch which followed the AGM and Talk was once again excellent and our thanks are due again to SOCA member John Foreman for allowing us to hold the event in the comfortable and convenient surroundings of the Ring O’Bells, Ashcott.
Organ Recital by Peter Duce at North Petherton Parish Church
Saturday 29th October 2016
On Saturday 29th October Peter Duce gave the last of the series of recitals at St Mary’s, North Petherton, in support of the church and our charity for this year – Changing Tunes. Our thanks are due to Andrew Hinkley for imaginatively arranging the series of recitals.
Peter gave us a spirited rendering of a range of music both well know and less well known.
He started with Christopher Tambling’s Trumpet Tune, noting that Christopher had sadly died only last year. The piece showed off the solo Trumpet (or was it the Tuba?) very effectively and ended with pedal Trombone in action – a rousing start. Elgar’s Nimrod variation from the Enigma Variations demonstrated the range of quiet and louder stops, and contrasts and the use of the swell pedal were a feature in Norman Warren’s Venite. The well-known Berceuse from Louis Vierne’s first book of 24 pieces en style libre provided a further opportunity to use the quieter stops. Peter then went on to play Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s Choral Song and the Wedding Suite by Kenneth Gange whose middle movement is a delightful Cantilène followed by a rousing march to end. George Thalben-Ball’s well known Elegy made a nice contrast to the march, and Peter interestingly told us that this piece had started life as an improvisation by the composer, which had been so enjoyed that he was asked to write it down.
The Festival Finale by Malcolm Archer was characteristically vivacious and the Tuba made an impressive start to Jones’s Allegro Marziale. The string–like pedal was very effective in Albinoni’s Adagio and Henry Smart’s March contrasted the organ’s choruses on different manuals well.
Peter finished with Ridout’s Postlude which featured the pedal Trombone and full organ at the end.
This was an enjoyable concert and a fitting end to the series, culminating in tea or coffee and some delightful cakes.
Report by Peter Cox
Tea Concert at Creech St Michael Parish Church
Sunday 9th October 2016
Last Sunday’s concert at Creech St Michael in aid of Changing Tunes was well received by a capacity audience. John Guttridge (a past organist at St Michael’s) opened with the rousing March from “Superman” by John Williams, and later the “Dam Busters” March by Eric Coates. John’s daughter Lizzie Matuszezyk sang “As time goes by” by Herman Hupfield, and “Summertime” by Gershwin, accompanied by John at the piano.
Jonathan Harris, a piano student of Julia Gauler, and a student at Richard Huish College, played a piano sonata in A by Scarlatti, the 1st Movement of Haydn’s Sonata in E, Lennox Berkeley’s 6th Prelude, and the Prelude in F sharp by Chopin on the digital piano available in the church. We wish him well with his approaching Grade 8 exam, and hope to hear more of his playing in the future.
Peter Cox, the present day Organist and Director of Music at St Michael’s, played the Intermezzo from Rheinberger’s 6th Sonata, a Prelude by De Vilbac, and Mendelssohn’s 5th Organ Sonata, during which he demonstrated his knowledge of the less obvious, but nevertheless successful, choices of registration.
The concert ended with John and Lizzie. Handel’s Organ Concerto in F, “Can’t help lovin dat man”, and Percy Fletcher’s famous (at least to organists) loud and frenzied “Festival Toccata” ending with the jubilant sound of full organ.
The amount raised for Changing Tunes was £231-10 with £100 of this gift aided.
A successful afternoon event made even more enjoyable with superb cakes.
Report by Ray Willis
Organ Recital by Stephen Price, Saturday 27th August 2016
St.Mary’s, North Petherton
Stephen Price, currently organist of Temple Methodist Church in Taunton, gave the latest in the series of Saturday afternoon organ recitals at St. Mary’s, North Petherton on August 27th. He chose to play largely unfamiliar repertoire, mainly from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, which made for an interesting programme. The church was also beautifully cool on a hot, humid afternoon!
Stephen began with a March by The Rev. Scotson Clark, a Victorian clergyman with wide musical interests: a cheerful start to the afternoon. He followed this with Three Sketches, by William Lloyd Webber, for many years a professor at the RCM and organist of Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. The prelude was surprisingly restrained as an opener, and the Intermezzo which followed featured a delightful oboe solo. The selection finished with a rousing and very chromatic Alla Marcia.
The recital continued with the well-known Adagio, attributed to Albinoni, but mainly constructed from musical fragments by Giozotto. In complete contrast, Stephen then played, from memory, a Tuba Tune of his own, a bubbling, cheerful piece featuring the organ’s loudest stop. Then followed a Minuet by Theodore Salome, very much a piece of French programme music.
The final group of pieces featured works by the Victorian organist, Henry Smart, who designed instruments as well as playing them, and had a career as a player, mainly in prominent London churches. We heard the gentle Prelude on soft flute stops, followed by a rousing Fughetta, and the March in G finished the recital with a flourish. In between Stephen played a restful Invocation by Fillipio Capocci, which showed the organ’s soft string stops to advantage.
Afterwards, over tea and cake, there was a chance for the audience to mingle and chat with the soloist. The next recital in this enterprising series will be by Jerry King on 24th September.
Report by John Bodiley
Visit to Stogursey, Stringston and St Audries (West Quantoxhead)
Saturday 13th August 2016
On what turned out to be a sunny summer afternoon a small group of us enjoyed a visit to the organs at Stogursey and Stringston and the historic barrel organ at St Audries.
We began at Stogursey where the William Drake Ltd restoration of the two manual and pedal organ gave us much enjoyment. This is a good sized instrument suitable for a wide variety of music and those of us who played it enjoyed the instrument and the acoustics of the church in which it is placed. We were joined by a number of members of the congregation who came to listen.
The dedication of the local members was evident when they led us on the Stringston where there is a small but perfectly formed single manual instrument. There further members of the local congregation came to listen. One highlight was John Bodiley and Ray Willis playing Pietro Yon’s Toccatina as a duet.
Our last visit was to St Etheldreda’s Church at St Audries (West Quantoxhead). Some took an interest in the single manual instrument in the church while Julie Pennington- Ridge opened up the historic barrel organ. This instrument dates from about 1840 and was installed at St Audries in 1981. It has three barrels with 10 hymns and two chants on each. We were interested in the 19th Century rendering of Adeste Fideles and the “twiddly bits” added to the tunes to ensure that each tune fitted the full circumference of the barrel.
The sunny summer afternoon was completed for some of us by a tea at the Kilve Chantry Tea Gardens.
1. Ray Willis and Julie Pennington-Ridge getting the barrel organ going at St Audries
2. Charles Pipe-Wolferstan playing the Stringston organ
3. John Bodiley plays Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat (1st movt) at Stogursey (from memory)
Young Organists’ Recital, Saturday 16th July 2016
St John’s Church, Glastonbury
The Somerset Organists’ and Choir Association is very keen to support and encourage young organists and for a number of years has arranged a recital given by talented young musicians. This year on 16th July we arranged a recital at St John the Baptist, Glastonbury which was given by Nicholas Tall and Chris Hamilton. They produced an interesting programme in which they were able to show their considerable talent. This included music by Buxtehude, Bach, Franck, Stanford and Reger.
Both recitalists have already made great achievements. Chris has been a Chapel Organist at Blundell’s School in Tiverton and in September he will be Organ Scholar of St Stephen’s Church in Gloucester Road, London. Nick has for the past year been Organ Scholar of St John’s Church Glastonbury – a post which he will continue to hold for the coming year, as well as being a Junior Organ Scholar of Wells Cathedral.
Report by Derek Dorey
Organ Recital by Ian Heavisides, Saturday, 23rd July 2016, North Petherton Minster Church
The second in a Summer series of organ recitals took place on Saturday, 23rd July, at North Petherton Minster Church. It was given by Ian Heavisides, and the proceeds from the retiring collection went to “Changing Tunes”, the chosen SOCA charity for 2016.
Ian played three major pieces: Bach’s Dorian Toccata & Fugue; 2 movements from Mendelssohn’s 1st Organ Sonata; and the Final, from Vierne’s 1st Organ Symphony. His recital interspersed these with a number of shorter, contrasting pieces. The Bach was played with great energy and verve, and a pleasing contrast of registrations in the Toccata. The two Mendelssohn movements displayed two contrasting facets of organ sound; the sedate legato of the Adagio, and the fast-running passagework of the Allegro. The Vierne Final showed the variety of tone and volume of which the North Petherton organ is capable.
The recital included several shorter pieces less commonly heard in recitals. Of particular charm were two items in the first half: A Prelude on Pont Street, by the recently-deceased organist of Downside, Christopher Tambling; and Contemplation, by Paul Edwards. Both of these quieter pieces allowed the use of serene stops from the organ, though the Tambling piece did build through a crescendo before finishing quietly. The Paul Edwards solo displayed the sort of piquant harmonies which would be familiar to those who have sung his Christmas miniature, No Small Wonder. The second half began with Noel Rawsthorne’s Celtic Lullaby, attractive variations on a Scottish air, and included Jehan Alain’s dark Chorale Dorien, and Brahms’ sublime prelude on the chorale melody Schmücke Dich. The recital also included Reger’s colourful Benedictus, and Pietro Yon’s fun piece, Toccatina for Flutes.
There was a convivial social atmosphere afterwards, with tea and delicious cake, and a chance to chat with the soloist, and with other players. There are three more recitals in the series, each on the last Saturday afternoon of the next three months at 3.00 p.m.. I commend these recitals to other players and listeners.
Report by John Bodiley
RSCM Songs of Praise event for Singers and Instrumentalists, Saturday 16th July 2016,
St Benedict’s Church, Glastonbury
This was a thoroughly practical and enjoyable afternoon, culminating in a short worship service which used the many musical ideas learnt during the afternoon.
The RSCM’s Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music, Miles Quick, led the afternoon – assisted by a very adaptable band of instrumentalists and on the organ by Derek Dorey, Organist of St John’s Church in Glastonbury. The approximately 40 attendees made up a four part choir when part-singing was an option.
The keynote was the simplicity of much of the music, enabling it to be embraced by congregations of limited musical ability but nevertheless providing new insights into the use of music in worship. We followed Miles as cantor as he improvised a response to confession prayers. We learnt a short response to be sung between verses of a Psalm, while the instruments played or improvised complementary parts. We sang traditional hymns and a modern worship song accompanied by various combinations of instruments and the organ. We used Taizé chant between intercessory prayer, and sang a Gloria as a four part round as we made our way individually into the chancel for the final benediction.
During the worship, school pupils from the area provided beautiful short pieces on trumpet and clarinet – their musical playing giving time and space for prayer and meditation.
We have already used some of the ideas shared in our worship at Creech St Michael Parish church, where we have an average congregation of 20 to 30 and only two or three musicians, thus demonstrating the practicality of the session.
Report by Peter Cox
Organ & Trumpet recital at St Mary’s Church, North Petherton, Saturday 4th June 2016
Organist Andrew Hinkley and young trumpeters Thomas Jordan and Gregory Jordan gave the first in a series of recitals at St Mary’s, North Petherton on Saturday June 4th. Their programme included works from the mid 17th century to the present day. Andrew showed the fine sound of the 3-manual organ to good advantage, with sounds ranging from gentle flues and small scale reeds to the blazing full organ. Both of the young trumpeters are pupils at Bristol Cathedral Choir School where they are learning trumpet with Ross Brown. The trumpet and organ items showed how well brass and organ combine. An added bonus came in explanations of the workings of both trumpets and organs which enabled the audience to appreciate more the skills of the players. This recital was in aid of church funds and our chosen charity for the year “ChangingTunes”. More are planned – keep a watch on the “our calendar” part of the website.
Report by Ray Willis
A tribute to the late Geoffrey Bond, who died recently, can be found in the ‘Tributes‘ section of the website.
Latest News from Changing Tunes (May 2016):
We’ve just published our bi-annual newsletter – please visit https://issuu.com/changingtunes/docs/intro_16_web
For the past two years SOCA has supported a local charity each year by promoting concerts in Somerset Churches to raise funds for that charity. For 2016 we will be supporting Changing Tunes.
Changing Tunes, based in Bristol, is a registered charity that uses music teaching, rehearsing, recording, performance, improvisation and composition to aid the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-prisoners. Changing Tunes has been doing this work for over fifteen years. The common purpose of making music creates an environment for prisoners to improve self-esteem, build healthy relationships, and engage in an activity where hard work and perseverance brings rewards. These factors are major steps towards rehabilitation.
Each week Changing Tunes leads music sessions in prisons, enabling prisoners to learn, practise and perform music that inspires them. Each Changing Tunes session is facilitated by a Musician in Residence, who is able to play at least two instruments to a very high standard, and to teach a number of other instruments as well as singing. Sessions are tailored to the needs of those involved and typically this results in most of the work involving tuition and band rehearsals, but we also see solo performers and other ensembles.
Changing Tunes staff usually work in the prison chapel and are linked with the Chaplaincy team and/or Education, given the pastoral and educational elements of their work. They regard this work as more than just a day job and bring a personal commitment to what they do.
For further information, please go to http://www.changingtunes.org.uk
There will be presentation about the charity’s work by a member of the Changing Tunes staff at 11 am on Sat 2nd April at St Andrew’s Church, Taunton. All are welcome!
Saturday 13th February 2016
VISIT TO OXFORD: Merton, Wadham & Keble Colleges
15 members of SOCA and guests enjoyed an instructive day hearing about, listening to and playing three of Oxford’s most notable, majestic and versatile organs – all recently newly built or restored. The wetness and coldness of the day was completely counteracted by the warmth and enthusiasm of the welcome received by members from Directors of Music Benjamin Nicholas (Merton), Katharine Pardee (Wadham) and Organ Scholar Rory Moules (Keble). The warmth of the tone from all three organs also helped!
1. Benjamin Nicholas demonstrates the splendid new organ of Merton College.
2. Nigel Cavey savours the majesty of tone.
3. The towering Father Willis at Wadham College, recently restored by Harrison & Harrison of Durham.
4. The lofty Tickell at Keble College.
5. John Bodiley plays the last chord of Bach’s St Anne Fugue at the end of the day.
16th January 2016
SOCA PRESENTATION TO ANDREW MORTON
21st November 2015
SOCA AGM WITH GUEST SPEAKER ANDREW MILLINGTON
31st October 2015
TEA CONCERT FOR ORGAN & STRING QUARTET AT CREECH ST MICHAEL
(From left) Michael Hollis, Sarah Cochrane, Patrick Rendell, Peter Cox, Alison Rendell, Stella Warren
(Click on photo to enlarge)
The tea concert held at St Michael’s, Creech St Michael, on Saturday 31 October was the last in SOCA’s 2015 series of “Music for Mind & Body” concerts in aid of MusicSpace. It offered the powerful blend of organ and string quartet, opening the way for a full-blown organ concerto to round off the programme.
The concert opened with J S Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major BWV 1048, in a transcription for string quartet and organ (here played by Patrick Rendell, organist of St Andrew’s Curry Rivel). By way of contrast in terms of musical language, this was followed by Alexandre Guilmant’s Organ Sonata No. 3 in C minor Opus 56 of 1881, played by the resident organist at St Michael’s, Peter Cox. Finally it was back to the 18th century for Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major HWV 295, nicknamed “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale”, with Patrick Rendell returning as organ soloist. Here again the players involved must be complimented on their success in overcoming the difficulty of maintaining close ensemble while playing in different areas of the church, with limited visibility from the nave organ console towards the chancel. The string tone was warm, well articulated and expressive, and we look forward to hearing the quartet in action again in the future.
The audience, whose numbers were swollen by several impressively well-behaved young grandchildren of Patrick Rendell’s, were afterwards treated to tea & cakes served by a hardworking team of church ladies who had been busy all day with a parish coffee morning followed by lunch. Luckily our concert by no means proved the last straw for them, and the tea was gratefully enjoyed by all. Donations of £207.51 were given in the retiring collection, bringing the overall total to £1,258.11 for the series.
The St Michael’s church organ consists of two manuals and pedals, having 14 speaking stops with enclosed Swell manual stops. It was originally built in about 1860 by George Maydwell Holdich and came to Creech St Michael from Rockwell Green Baptist Church in 1985. It has since been restored by Deane Organ Builders.
Organist John Bodiley and harpist Naomi Chidgey together presented a truly delightful concert at St Mary the Virgin, Moorlinch, on Saturday 17 October as part of SOCA’s “Music for Mind & Body” series.
Their imaginative and educative programme, notable for the inclusion of several well-loved items alongside others likely to be familiar only to the cognoscenti of both instruments, ran as follows: Marcel Grandjany Lullaby; J S Bach Prelude in C; J P Krieger Prelude and Fugue; Greensleeves; Over the Sea to Skye; Scarborough Fair; Samuel Long Voluntary in G minor; John Travers Trumpet Voluntary; Marcel Tournier Number 3 from “Quatre Preludes”; Marcel Grandjany Trois Petites Piѐces; Ludovico Einaudi arr. Naomi Chidgey I Giorni; Sigfrid Karg-Elert Alla Pastorale; Johannes Brahms Chorale on “Schmücke Dich…”; Louis Vierne Berceuse; Deborah Henson-Conant Nataliana.
The concert, which was followed by an ample and delicious tea, attracted donations of £195.50, bringing the overall total raised for MusicSpace to £1,050.60 so far.
Naomi Chidgey, currently a student at Richard Huish Sixth Form College in Taunton, has been studying the harp for 9 years. Before that, she was a chorister in Wells Cathedral Choir, and a pupil at Queen’s College, Taunton. The highlight of her career so far has been playing in The National Children’s Orchestra, and she currently plays with Somerset County Youth Orchestra. She has also played at many weddings & tea parties (and is available for hire). Naomi in addition plays the violin, and enjoys singing.
John Bodiley taught English professionally in secondary & adult education, but following organ tuition from Michael Nicholas & Stephen Cleobury, held posts as an organist in Oxfordshire & Bedfordshire. Later in his career, he taught in Lancashire, where he held an organist’s post and directed two choral societies. Retirement to Somerset in 1996 brought the opportunity to become accompanist at Richard Huish College in Taunton for ten years, and accompanist to Bridgwater Choral Society for a similar length of time. He has held two posts as church organist, but has now fully retired from most of this, just doing occasional playing when asked.
The organ at St Mary’s Moorlinch is a fascinating survivor. It was built around 1820 by the Lancashire firm of James Davis, and very few of his organs are still playable, even if they are still in existence. There is another good example in Wymondham Abbey, in Norfolk. Though the Moorlinch organ has only one keyboard, finishing on a low G rather than a C, some of the stops are divided, so it is possible to play a different sound with each hand: thus, the right hand can play a solo accompanied by the left, and vice versa. The small octave of pedals was probably added later as a token gesture, later in the nineteenth century, when pedal boards began belatedly to appear on English organs. The stop knobs are sprung: when pulled out, they have to be pressed downwards to clip with a ratchet and stay on; to turn them off, they have simply to be flicked upwards, and they spring in again. Two hundred years ago, the appearance of an organ was as important as its sound, and so the handsome case here is a superb example of the cabinet maker’s skill. Though it is now blown electrically, the original mechanism for pumping with your left foot is still there!
Moorlinch would appreciate any volunteer organists to add to a players’ rota (please contact SOCA’s Secretary initially if you may be interested).
ANDREW CARTER & ELLA LEONARD “STUNNINGLY GOOD” AT BROMPTON REGIS
Organist/pianist Andrew Carter and oboist Ella Leonard combined their talents on Friday 2 October to give a concert at St Mary’s Brompton Regis as part of SOCA’s “Music for Mind & Body” series in aid of MusicSpace. It was reportedly an excellent recital in which Andrew Carter displayed the tonal range of the organ with great subtlety, and 14 year-old oboist Ella Leonard, from Wellington School, was described as “stunningly good.” Thanks to the generosity of the audience the sum of £228 was donated to MusicSpace, bringing the total raised by the series to £855.10 so far.
Andrew and Ella’s programme ran as follows (items with oboe are marked *): Bruhns Preludium in E minor; Handel Concerto no. 3 in G minor, movements 1 & 2*; Buxtehude “Jig” fugue in C; Bach Jesu joy of man’s desiring*; Bach “Adagio e dolce” from Trio sonata no. 3; Albinoni Concerto in G minor, movement 3*; Haydn Pieces for a Musical Clock; Walton Three pieces from “Richard III”; Belier Toccata in D minor; Warlock “Pieds en l’air” from Capriol Suite; Britten Pan, from Metamorphoses*; Vaughan Williams Prelude on “Rhosymedre”; Saint-Saëns Sonata for oboe and piano, movement 2*; Hamilton Harty Chansonette*; Vicenzio Neapolitan Fiesta; Harry Roy Leicester Square Rag; Nigel Ogden Saints on a Spree
Andrew Carter attended the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music and holds diplomas from that College, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Organists. During a career as a language teacher, a member of the Diplomatic Service, and Warden of St George’s House, Windsor Castle, he maintained his enthusiasm for music, performing and conducting in this country and in European venues from Moscow to Gibraltar. In retirement in Somerset he remains very active musically.
Ella Leonard lives in Skilgate and is a Music Scholar at Wellington School. She has been a member of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain for four years, and is now a member of the Main Orchestra which performs at prestigious venues throughout the UK. She also plays the cor anglais and piano, and still manages to find time to enjoy a variety of sports.
For those who don’t know the story, it was realised in 2012 that the creaking and wheezing old organ at Brompton Regis is in fact a high quality instrument of historic importance (see the Institute of Organ Studies certificate in the church porch). An unspoilt example of the work of the leading Victorian organ builder Thomas Lewis, it was first created in 1872, and was then brought to Brompton Regis through a heroic fund-raising effort by the parish in 1897 as its chosen way of marking the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 2012-13 the magnificent sum of £28,000 was raised to fund a full authentic restoration, which was completed in June 2014. See www.bromptonregis.com/organ for fuller details. All organists are welcome to come and play it.
THREE ORGANISTS IN CONCERT AT TAUNTON UNITARIAN CHAPEL
(From left) Vicky Heavisides, Eleanor Dixon, Ian Heavisides, Jay Waite, Sue Bowdrey, Peter Cox, Judith Cox
(Click on photo to enlarge)
The latest in our series of “Music for Mind & Body” concerts in aid of MusicSpace was hosted on Saturday 26 September by Taunton Unitarian Chapel. Three SOCA members in the shape of Jay Waite (resident organist at the Unitarian Chapel), Ian Heavisides and Peter Cox were joined by soprano Sue Bowdrey from the Unitarian congregation.
The programme ran as follows: John Stanley arr. Patrick Williams Prelude in G minor, Jeremiah Clarke Trumpet Voluntary (Jay Waite); Nicolaus Bruhns Prelude & Fugue in G minor, William Walond Cornet Voluntary in G, Arthur Sullivan The Lost Chord, Nigel Ogden Leprechaun in London (Ian Heavisides); J S Bach Prelude from Prelude & Fugue in F minor BWV 543, Arthur Sullivan The sun whose rays are all ablaze from The Mikado, Edward Elgar arr. Andrew Moore Salut d’Amour, Samuel Wesley Gavotte (Peter Cox); Sibelius The Song of Peace (Sue Bowdrey, Jay Waite); G F Handel arr. Vincent Knight Dove Sei from Rodelinda, Cuthbert Harris Voluntary in D minor (Jay Waite).
All the participants are to be congratulated on their wide variety of playing across the musical spectrum from serious to light-hearted, including well-loved tunes alongside some less familiar pieces. Compere Jay Waite was also thanked for his successful efforts by retired Unitarian lay pastor Eleanor Dixon, herself a tireless champion of organ music at the Unitarian chapels of both Taunton and Bridgwater. A total of £66 was raised in donations, to be divided equally between MusicSpace and the Taunton Unitarian Chapel. This brings our current total raised for MusicSpace to £627.10 so far this year.
Today’s lunchtime organ recital at Wells Cathedral (Thursday 10 September) was given by Marcus Wibberley, Director of Music at Hexham Abbey. His brilliantly & powerfully played programme consisted of the following: Max Reger Introduction & Passacaglia in D minor; Roger Wibberley Alle Menschen müssen sterben (Orgelbüchlein Project piece); J S Bach Alle Menschen müssen sterben (Alio modo), BWV 643; J S Bach Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542; Josef Rheinberger Cantilena; Jan Zwart Toccata: Psalm 146.
Marcus Wibberley is Director of Music of Hexham Abbey and Festival Director of the annual Hexham Abbey Festival of Music & Arts. His responsibilities include directing the Abbey’s choirs, overseeing the programme of concerts & recitals on the Abbey’s world-famous Phelps organ, and working with the Friends of Hexham Abbey Music (who provide funding for the Abbey’s Choral and Organ Scholarships).
Marcus trained as a Chorister of Westminster Abbey under Martin Neary, and studied the organ with Martin Baker and John Scott Whiteley. He holds a First Class honours degree in Music from the University of Hull, and won the Gerald Knight prize for the highest marks in the Choral Directing diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He held organ scholarships at Chichester Cathedral, Beverley Minster and York Minster before becoming Sub-Organist of Portsmouth Cathedral and Music Adviser to the Diocese of Portsmouth. During his six years at Portsmouth he accompanied the Cathedral Choir on five BBC live broadcasts, four CD recordings and six foreign tours. For the diocese, he ran pioneering schemes to provide organ tuition to teenagers across the diocese, and to introduce singing to schoolchildren and their teachers.
As a recitalist, Marcus has travelled extensively, performing in Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Estonia in recent years. In addition, he has also given recitals at most of the major cathedrals and abbeys across the United Kingdom.
Today’s midday organ recital given by Peter Kingston, Organist at St Cuthbert’s Wells, formed part of the 2015 St Cuthbert’s Music Festival. This annual week-long event is timed to celebrate the Festival of St Cuthbert, which falls on 4 September. It offers a wide variety of instrumental, chamber and choral music, with the aim of providing a platform for local musicians & young talent.
Peter’s interestingly varied programme ran as follows: J S Bach Prelude & Fugue in G major BWV 541; Frank Bridge Andante moderato in C minor; Frank Bridge Adagio in E major; Paul Hindemith Sonata number 2; J S Bach Fantasia & Fugue in G minor BWV 542. This proved to be an attractive mixture of popular, well-known works together with some much less familiar items, and the recital was well supported by an appreciative audience.
Peter Kingston was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and studied music at the University of Oxford. He was a journalist for 30 years in Fleet Street, including seven years on the Evening Standard and eighteen on The Guardian, and left to write novels. He has been the organist at St Cuthbert’s since 2006.
SOCA WORKSHOP ON FRENCH CLASSICAL ORGAN MUSIC
An audience of 22 organists and other music-lovers gathered at St. Mary’s Church Bridgwater on Tuesday 1 September to listen to a talk on French Classical Organ Music given by SOCA member John Bodiley, with musical illustrations beautifully played on the organ by SOCA’s vice-chairman Miles Quick.
John’s talk highlighted the differences in national characteristics of organ design in England, Germany and France in the late 17th century. This led to very marked differences in the music for which those organs were designed, in both solo and liturgical repertoire. Miles demonstrated many of the characteristics of the early French organ on the versatile St. Mary’s organ, playing works by Clérambault, François Couperin, Marchand and Gigault. In particular, the music showed how different was the design of the pedal organ, where, instead of underpinning the harmony, it was only able to play a melodic line at tenor or alto pitch, heard through the harmonies played by the hands. A demonstration was also given of the same piece being played, firstly without, and then with, the “notes inégales” which are such a feature of French music of the period.
The concept of “alternatim”, the pattern of alternating organ and voices in the liturgy, was explained, and the audience provided the vocal part in a performance of a 9-fold Kyrie by Couperin. After that, the performance was repeated with Miles improvising on the organ, as would originally have happened during most services.
Finally, with Christmas just over the horizon, Miles played the delightful Noel by Daquin, a set of variations with echo effects.
A booklet of duplicated music was provided for those who attended to take away, in the hope that Somerset organists (if they don’t play early French music already) might be able to use the organs they regularly play to reproduce some of the sounds and the music they had heard.
Despite several distinct rumbles of cannon fire to be heard thereabouts on Saturday afternoon, the church of Holy Trinity Taunton, to everyone’s relief, still stands perfectly intact. The cannon fire in question, luckily enough, was purely musical in origin, being part of Balbastre’s La Cannonade, one of eleven highly varied items which made up the programme of Ian Heavisides’ organ recital. Ably introduced by Fr Julian Laurence, the Vicar of Holy Trinity and himself an organist, Ian’s recital ran as follows: J S Bach (arr. David Patrick) Sinfonia to Cantata 29; C M Widor Adagio from Symphony No.3; C S Lang Tuba Tune in D Major; Flor Peeters Partita on “Awake my heart with gladness”; William Hine Flute Piece; Domenico Scarlatti Sonata No.2; Claude-Benigne Balbastre La Cannonade; Noel Rawsthorne Prelude on “Londonderry Air”; Leon Boellmann Gothic Suite; J S Bach Chorale Prelude on “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier”; Graham S Morrison Recessional. This musical feast was followed by a pleasantly sociable tea in the church room. Admission was free of charge, with all donations being devoted to the Holy Trinity organ fund.
Dr Ian Heavisides was born in Leeds and moved to the South West nearly 30 years ago, but still considers himself to be a Yorkshireman. He started the piano from an early age and played hymns and choruses for the local Methodist Church Sunday School in Rawdon. When the organist there retired, Ian, while still at school, was asked to replace him and took lessons with Fred Scarfe FRCO, the organist at Oxford Place Methodist Church in Leeds. This resulted in Ian obtaining Grade 8 for the Organ, by which time he was studying Metallurgy at Leeds University.
Ian is married with two daughters. His working life has been mainly involved with the technical aspects of producing castings for aircraft engines, and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers. His move south took place on joining a major casting group in Exeter. Since moving to Somerset, Ian has held organist positions at Chard Parish Church, Holy Trinity in Taunton and the Minster, Ilminster.
Ian is an active recitalist, having given recitals in both the Leeds and Somerset areas including several at Halifax Parish Church. Many of us will also remember the recital he gave at Ilminster last year as part of SOCA’s “Wind & Wave” series. He recently passed two major anniversaries in his musical life: 50 years since starting playing the organ, and 25 years since taking up his post at Ilminster. Highlights of the past few years have been playing at Deanery services in both Gloucester Cathedral and Truro Cathedral, and playing on the organ of King’s College Cambridge for a “significant birthday” treat.
Distinguished international organist Margaret Phillips gave a Masterclass on Wednesday 22 July at the chapel of King’s College Taunton, as part of Taunton Live 2015. Three SOCA members plus John Radford, from Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, played a selection of Bach chorale preludes in the following order:
Peter Cox: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele BWV 654
Miles Quick: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659
John Radford: Alle Menschen müssen sterben BWV 643 & Liebster Jesu BWV 731
Hilary Shaw: O Mensch, bewein BWV 622
Margaret’s comments and advice, which were highly illuminating, focussed largely on articulation, ornamentation, and a more fluid and intuitive use of both keyboard and pedalboard in order to convey Bach’s musical thinking as faithfully as possible. Scores in various editions, together with photocopies of Bach’s original manuscripts, were made available for the audience. It was a most rewarding experience for both participants and audience alike, and we thank Margaret very much indeed for her inspiring words of encouragement.
Today’s lunchtime recital at Wells Cathedral was given by Shaun Ward, Director of Music at St Laurence, Ludlow. His programme ran as follows: J S Bach Piece d’orgue; Louis Vierne Claire de lune; Pablo Bruna Tiento de 1st Toni de Mano derecho; Cesar Franck Choral No. 3. Each item was strongly characterised and of course brilliantly played, and the cumulative effect was positively overwhelming.
Shaun Ward studied organ and harpsichord at the University of Huddersfield, gaining his BMus(Hons) in 1999 and receiving the Hollingsworth prize for outstanding organist of the year. In 2001 he completed his MA in performance, specialising in organ and harpsichord, and winning the concerto prize. His work as a continuo player has included concerts with many choral societies, as well as the Three Choirs Festival, York Early Music Festival, the Beverley and East Riding Early Music Festival, and the Leeds Baroque Orchestra, while as a soloist his work includes regular recitals as part of the Hereford Cathedral Summer series.
Following posts at Leeds Parish Church and Hereford Cathedral, Shaun became Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church, Hereford for five years, during which time he rekindled a choral tradition, taking the choir on a number of tours in the UK and Europe. His interest in historic buildings led him to work in an architectural practice, and he completed an MSc at Bath University in the conservation of historic buildings.
In 2007 Shaun took up the post of Director of Music of Ludlow Parish church, since which time the choir has broadcast regularly on BBC local radio and has recorded a CD of Christmas music. The choir has performed Vivaldi’s Gloria as part of the Ludlow Festival, as well as singing services at Gloucester and Hereford Cathedrals. In 2014 he became Artistic Director of the new Ludlow Arts Summer Festival, creating an annual programme of high-quality classical concerts, as well as directing the Festival Chorus in performances of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.
As curator of the famous Snetzler organ, Shaun has overseen further restoration of the instrument, as well as promoting a popular series of organ recitals and the production of a DVD celebrating the organ’s 250th anniversary. He is also Clerk of Works and the Vision Project Coordinator, supervising the conservation of the fabric of St Laurence’s and its development for the future. In his spare time he enjoys cycling and travelling, and continues to study piano with Catherine Miller.
Mary Morgan and Steve Graham gave a lovely tea-time recital of music for Soprano and Lute on Saturday 27 June at St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton. A wide range of composers and moods were explored, including music by Ford, Campion, Morley and of course John Dowland. In addition to the songs there were also solos on lute and theorbo. The programme was greatly enjoyed by an appreciative audience, and a splendid tea was provided afterwards by the church. The collection raised a total of £96 for MusicSpace, bringing the overall amount raised by our “Music for Mind & Body” series so far to £594.10.
JOSHUA XERRI ORGAN RECITAL AT ST JOHN’S GLASTONBURY
Joshua Xerri alongside the St John’s pulpit with its antique hourglass, a gift from the American Embassy after D-Day
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Former Organ Scholar Joshua Xerri returned to St John’s Glastonbury today to give a lunchtime recital which included several of his favourite pieces and was warmly received by an appreciative audience. The programme was as follows: J S Bach Prelude & Fugue in C; Francois Couperin Tierce en Taille; John Ireland Alla Marcia; Hubert Parry Elegy; Camille Saint-Saens Improvisation No. 7.
Joshua began his musical career as a boy chorister at Llandaff Cathedral, attending the Cathedral School where he began organ lessons with Michael Hoeg. During his time at Llandaff he also studied the piano and singing at the Junior Conservatoire of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Joshua’s transition from singer and pianist to playing the organ owes much to the encouragement of his headmaster at Llandaff Cathedral School, Lindsay Grey (former Director of the Royal School of Church Music), who suggested that he introduce himself to a local parish church to gain the confidence to play for services. He was then awarded a music scholarship, jointly for voice and organ studies, at Wells Cathedral School. There he studied the organ with the organist of Wells Cathedral, Matthew Owens, and regularly accompanied and directed the school chapel choir in their services at the Cathedral. It was during his time at Wells Cathedral School that he also became Organ Scholar of St John’s Church, Glastonbury. In September 2013 Joshua was appointed Organ Scholar of Chelmsford Cathedral, where he was responsible for accompanying cathedral services and assisting in directing the cathedral choirs. Following his time at Chelmsford, Joshua was awarded a scholarship to study the organ at Birmingham Conservatoire with Daniel Moult and Henry Fairs, and expects to graduate in 2018.
SOCA’s “Music for Mind & Body” concert series continued today at St Giles Thurloxton with an entertaining medley of music for organ and trumpet, ably played by Miles Quick and Claire Powell. Claire, originally from the Isle of Wight, was recruited to perform when she approached Miles to discuss the music for her forthcoming wedding in Taunton and happened to reveal that she also played the trumpet…
Their programme ran as follows: Vivaldi/Bach 1st movement, Concerto in A minor BWV 593; Haydn Andante from Trumpet Concerto; Mendelssohn Andante Tranquillo from Sonata No.3, Adagio from Sonata No.2; Williams/Chambers arr. Iveson Angels; Elgar Allegro II & Andantino III from Vesper Voluntaries; Boëllmann Menuet Gothique from Suite Gothique; Peeters Aria; Hummel Allegro con spirito from Trumpet Concerto
This musical feast was followed by refreshments in nearby Thurloxton village hall, where the conversation flowed over tea, cream scones and an assortment of delicious home-made cakes. Our thanks go to St Giles’s resident organist Joan Winspear and her friends at Thurloxton for so very generously hosting the event. In all, £232 was raised for MusicSpace, bringing the total amount raised by the “Music for Mind & Body” series so far to £498.10.
“MUSIC FOR MIND & BODY” CONCERT AT BRIDGWATER
(From left) St Mary’s organist Doug Smith, Nicholas Freestone, Ruth Jeanes, Hannah Deason-Barrow, John Bodiley, Ray Willis
(Click on photo to enlarge)
SOCA’s new “Music for Mind & Body” concert series in aid of music therapy charity MusicSpace got off to a flying start this afternoon at St Mary’s Bridgwater with a delightfully varied programme of music for organ, flute and voice. Nicholas Freestone, senior organ scholar at Wells Cathedral, was joined by flautist Ruth Jeanes and mezzo-soprano Hannah Deason-Barrow, both students at Richard Huish College, Taunton, who were accompanied on the piano by SOCA member John Bodiley.
In her welcoming remarks, the Revd Trish Ollive, Vicar of St Mary’s, read this message from the Archdeacon of Taunton John Reed: “It is a wonderful thing that the musicians of Somerset Organists’ & Choirs’ Association are putting on some fabulous concerts in beautiful churches in our area to raise funds for MusicSpace. With a daughter engaged in therapy for the elderly with music, art, IT and drama, I know how music and other arts can speak beyond words – and, in the case of MusicSpace be offered to people of all ages and conditions.”
The programme of music ran as follows: J S Bach Fantasia in G major BWV 572; Gabriel Fauré Morceau de Concours; Francis Poulenc Flute Sonata Movement 1 “Allegro Malinconico”; Louis Vierne Lied (Song) from 24 pieces; Hugo Wolf Verborgenheit; Madeleine Dring Crabbed Age and Youth; Ad Wammes Miroir; Benjamin Godard Valse; Francois-Joseph Gossec Tabourin; Frank Bridge Adagio; Erroll Garner “Misty”; Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey “There are worse things I could do”; Louis Vierne Finale from Organ Symphony no 1.
As senior organ scholar of Wells Cathedral, Nicholas Freestone, who was making his first ever visit to Bridgwater, assists in the training of the cathedral choristers and shares in the playing & conducting of the cathedral’s daily services. He came to Wells last year after graduating from Oxford, where he had been organ scholar of Worcester College, taught by Stephen Farr. In September he will be moving on to St Albans Cathedral to continue his professional career in church music. Away from the organ loft, he closely follows the (mis)fortunes of the England cricket team, and enjoys dabbling in web design.
Ruth Jeanes began learning the flute at the age of ten, and passed Grade 8 with distinction two years ago. She is in her final year at Richard Huish College, studying Music, Maths and Chemistry. She also plays the violin, and will be taking Grade 8 this summer. Next year Ruth plans to continue her musical studies either at the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff or at the Royal Northern College in Manchester.
Mezzo-soprano Hannah Deason-Barrow, who is also in her final year at Richard Huish College, is aiming for a career in musical theatre. She has been a pupil of Linda Marshall Cole for eight years, gaining a distinction in her Grade 8 singing exam, alongside Grade 8 Music Theatre. Hannah was recently judged “outstanding” in the annual Taunton Festival, the adjudicator describing her voice as “commanding and authoritative, tingling in its focus and vitality.” She will be spending her forthcoming gap year teaching English at a specialist music academy on the scenic South Korean island of Jeju.
John Bodiley (piano) taught English professionally, but after organ lessons from Michael Nicholas and Stephen Cleobury at St Matthew’s Church, Northampton, he held several posts in Bedfordshire and Lancashire both as organist and as a director of choral societies. Since retiring to Somerset, he has been organist of St Mary’s Bridgwater and of Holy Trinity in Taunton. He also accompanied Bridgwater Choral Society for 10 years, and was the accompanist at Richard Huish College for a similar length of time.
Today’s concert, which was enthusiastically received, was followed by tea and refreshments in which the scones with clotted cream and the chocolate sponge cake were remarkable for their rapid disappearance. Our appreciation goes to the church community at St Mary’s for hosting the event, to the musicians for sharing their talents with us, to SOCA chairman Ray Willis for his thought-provoking closing remarks, and to the audience for coming. The retiring collection amounted to £175, and we thank all those present for contributing so generously to MusicSpace.
SOCA YOUNG MUSICIANS RECITAL AT ST JOHN’S GLASTONBURY
(From left) Derek Dorey, Alexander Henshaw, Nicholas Freestone, Hugo Dodsworth, SOCA’s Patron Lady Gass, and her sister Mary Ackland-Hood
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Members of SOCA were delighted to welcome Lady Gass, our Association’s Patron, on the occasion of the SOCA Young Musicians Recital at St John’s Glastonbury on Saturday 25 April. Performing for us were Alexander Henshaw (organ), Hugo Dodsworth (recorder) and Nicholas Freestone (organ), in what proved to be a highly enjoyable and varied programme of music ranging chronologically from Jacob van Eyck (born circa 1590) to Dobrinka Tabakova (born 1980). The running order was as follows: J S Bach Largo from the Trio Sonata No. 2 in C minor BWV 526; John Ireland Menuetto-impromptu; Philip Moore Paean; Jacob van Eyck Prins Robberts Masco & Engels Nachtegaeltje from Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights); J S Bach Prelude & Fugue in A major BWV 536; Dietrich Buxtehude Chaconne in E minor BuxWV 160; Felix Mendelssohn Sonata 11 opus 65 no. 2; Dobrinka Tabakova Chorale from Diptych; Derek Bourgeois Serenade. This feast of music, introduced by St John’s Director of Music Derek Dorey, was warmly received by a select but highly appreciative audience.
Our two organists, Alexander Henshaw (Organ Scholar of St John’s Glastonbury) and Nicholas Freestone (Senior Organ Scholar at Wells Cathedral), may already be familiar to visitors to this website from previous recitals. In contrast, this was the first time we have heard recorder player Hugo Dodsworth perform at a SOCA event. You may like to have a little more information on the music Hugo played, as well as on his own musical career to date.
Jacob van Eyck was born into the nobility in Heusden, The Netherlands, in about 1590. After leaving home in 1625 he took up the position of Director of Carillons (a tuned set of chimes played using a keyboard) in Utrecht, where he lived until his death in 1657. As well as being praised by scientists for his knowledge of acoustics and bell casting & tuning, he also became known as a virtuoso musician. Van Eyck’s Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights) remains the largest work written for a wind instrument in European history, containing more than 140 melodies. It is also notably the largest work composed through dictation, as most records suggest that Van Eyck was born blind. Most of Van Eyck’s recorder playing came from his performances in the St Jans churchyard, where he would play a mixture of familiar folk tunes and church melodies. Around these he would then improvise, making each variation more decorative and virtuosic than the last.
The ‘Prins Robbert’ after whom the march Prins Robberts Masco is named was Prince Rupert of Bohemia, a nephew of King Charles I who fought for the Royalists in the English Civil War. Van Eyck borrowed an English dance tune found in John Playford’s Dancing Master collection for his variations with their rapid arpeggiated chords and sequences. The melody of Engels Nachtegaeltje or English Nightingale is also thought to have originated in England in the 1630s. Van Eyck explores the birdsong melody in his variations, expressively demonstrating the versatility of the instrument with long scalic passages and rapid imitation across the different ranges of the recorder, stylishly depicting the vivid song of the nightingale.
Hugo Dodsworth’s passion for music was kindled at an early age and continued to flourish during his time as a Chorister at Lincoln Cathedral (2006-2011), when he developed a love for choral & classical music, particularly works of Baroque & Renaissance composers. By the age of ten Hugo had begun to establish a repertoire of music for Recorder & Voice which continued to grow under the guidance of Richard Lindsay (Recorder) and Margaret Crossland (Voice), achieving ABRSM Grade 8 singing by the age of 12. In contrast with his passion for Early Music, Hugo studied Jazz Piano with Colin Dudman, through which he discovered an interest for improvisation and ensemble playing. This later led to him studying the Piano Accordion, with which he has developed a substantial repertoire of Folk music, playing in sessions and with bands across the country. Hugo currently studies at Wells Cathedral School where he has lessons in Recorder (Amy Whittlesea), Accordion (Karen Street) and Voice (Philip Lawson) and performs with a number of ensembles including Baroque ensembles, recorder consorts and both mixed-voice and all-male choirs. As well as music, Hugo enjoys literature, the arts, running and rock climbing.
NICHOLAS FREESTONE IN RECITAL AT WELLS
Nicholas shares a hug with his grandparents and great-uncle
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Today’s lunchtime recital at Wells Cathedral was given by the cathedral’s Senior Organ Scholar, Nicholas Freestone. His programme, which was wide-ranging, varied and colourful, ran as follows: Nicolaus Bruhns Prӓludium in E minor (‘Kleines’); J S Bach Trio super ‘Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’ BWV 655; Johannes Brahms Mein Jesu der du mich (from op. 122); Ad Wammes Miroir; César Franck Cantabile & Pièce héroïque (from Trois Pièces).
Nicholas Freestone is currently Senior Organ Scholar of Wells Cathedral, where he assists in the training of the choristers and shares in the playing & conducting of the daily services. In addition, he is Assistant Director of the Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society, as well as Musical Director of the Mid-Wessex Singers.
Nicholas is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he held the organ scholarship at Worcester College between 2011 and 2014. In this role, he was responsible for the day-to-day running of the college’s chapel music, including directing & accompanying the Boys’ & Mixed Choirs in several services each week. In addition the choirs undertook a busy schedule of extra-liturgical events, and Nicholas performed with the choirs as organist or director on four recordings (two of which gained the accolade of “BBC Music Magazine Christmas Choice”); on tours to Belgium, France, Germany and Italy; on two BBC Radio 4 broadcasts; and in concert (venues including St John’s Smith Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and Buxton Opera House).
Nicholas was Organ Scholar of Tewkesbury Abbey and Dean Close School, Cheltenham between September 2010 and July 2011, where he assisted in the accompanying & direction of the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and the Tewkesbury Abbey Choir alongside working in the music department at Dean Close School. Prior to this, Nicholas was a music scholar & organ scholar at Ipswich School & St Mary-le-Tower Civic church, Ipswich. His earliest exposure to organ music was through listening to the playing of his father, but he only became immersed in church music through joining the choir of St Mary-le-Tower at the age of 13. During his school years he was taught the organ by William Saunders, deputy head of music at Ipswich School, and subsequently studied under Carlton Etherington while at Tewkesbury Abbey and Stephen Farr during his college years at Oxford. The next step in his musical career takes him to St Albans Cathedral, where he will be taking up his next post in September 2015.
“MUSIC FOR MIND & BODY”
New for 2015, SOCA wishes to sponsor a series of fundraising concerts & recitals on behalf of the music therapy charity MusicSpace (The MusicSpace Trust, Registered Charity No. 328311).
Building on the success of last year’s “Wind & Wave” series (in which 18 events held across Somerset saw over £4,750 raised for Somerset flood relief), our new series “Music for Mind & Body” aims to make a worthwhile contribution to the work of MusicSpace. Based in Bristol, MusicSpace’s team of 15 music therapists offer their services to some 400 clients per week, ranging from children to the elderly, who either come to their purpose-built Bristol centre individually or are visited at schools, specialist units or residential homes in Gloucestershire, Bristol and Somerset.
Here are a few words from one of the therapists on the MusicSpace team: “I work one day a week with students who attend a specialist unit. These students all have communication difficulties, often as a result of Asperger’s Syndrome or high functioning autism. We work together using music creatively to express feelings. Sometimes we work on specific social skills, such as listening or turn taking in conversations. The students seem to find the sessions very relaxing, a chance to be themselves in a busy school environment. I also work with referrals from the rest of the school, particularly with students who are experiencing emotional difficulties – this may be to support someone for short-term work, for example, a student who has been bereaved or a looked-after child.”
A Young Person says: “I enjoy it because she is helpful and instead of words you can express it through music and she knows your feelings from the notes.”
And a Parent says: “Music therapy focuses on what my son can do, rather than on what he can’t.”
To find out about MusicSpace’s work in more detail, please visit www.musicspace.org
If you feel you would like to take part in “Music for Mind & Body” whether as an organist yourself, or by encouraging other musicians along, or simply by hosting either a mixed concert or an organ recital at your church, college or school, we would love to hear from you! SOCA can offer you practical assistance with publicity, programme design, and even finding someone to play your organ, as may be required. We are here to help make your event run smoothly, but it is only you who can bring that vital spark. Most importantly, we hope you’ll have fun!
To contact us, just click here
Thursday’s lunchtime organ recital at Wells Cathedral was given by Timothy Parsons, Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral. Timothy’s programme ran as follows: William Walton (arr. Robert Gower & Henry Ley) Suite from Henry V: March, Passacaglia, Touch her soft lips and part, March; Edward Elgar Chanson de Matin, Chanson de Nuit; Maurice Duruflé from Suite, Op.5: Sicilienne, Toccata.
Timothy Parsons took up the post of Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral in September 2014, and this term is Acting Assistant Director of Music. He was a chorister at Guildford Cathedral and was educated at Charterhouse, where he studied the organ with Mark Blatchly. He subsequently held the organ scholarships at Hereford Cathedral and then at Selwyn College, Cambridge, from where he graduated with a starred first in Music in 2014. Whilst at Selwyn, he accompanied the chapel choir in various tours, concerts and recordings under the direction of Sarah MacDonald. During his time at Cambridge, Timothy also held the organ scholarship for King’s Voices, the mixed-voice choir of King’s College Chapel.
He currently studies the organ with Stephen Farr and obtained his FRCO in 2013. He has given organ recitals across the UK in venues including the cathedrals of Gloucester, Hereford, Ely and St Davids (as part of the 2011 St Davids Cathedral Festival), Ludlow Parish Church, and St John’s College, Cambridge. In August 2013 he was awarded Second Prize in the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, and the following summer was Organ Scholar for the Charles Wood Festival & Summer School in Armagh, directed by David Hill. His choral music is published by Encore Publications.
SOMERSET ORGANIST RECEIVES BRITISH CITIZENS AWARD
Church organist Mrs Evelyn Buckland, 89, of Charlton Mackrell, received a British Citizens Award at the Palace of Westminster on 29 January 2015. Hosted by Baroness Cox, these award ceremonies, which take place twice a year, recognise exceptional endeavour and service to the community. Evelyn’s award was for services to the community, primarily for playing the organ, having played over a period of seventy years as organist in the churches of Charlton Mackrell and Charlton Adam. Besides playing for Sunday worship at the Charltons’ churches, she has also helped out in other parishes as well as playing for numerous christenings, weddings & funerals, plus occasional weekday school services. In order to celebrate with Evelyn, there will be a special service of thanksgiving at St Mary’s Church, Charlton Mackrell, on Sunday 12 April at 11.00am.
WE HAVE A WINNER!
Congratulations to SOCA member Mrs Barbara Uglow, of Taunton, who has won this year’s SOCA Membership Prize Draw. The draw, open to all SOCA members who had paid their 2015 annual subscription in time, took place at the first committee meeting of 2015 on Monday 2 February. SOCA’s chairman Ray Willis drew the winning name from the “hat” (actually an old Cadbury’s Roses tin), and the prize, a boxed set of 6 CDs of the complete Bach organ works played by Simon Preston under the Deutsche Grammophon label, is now winging its way to the lucky winner. We wish Barbara much enjoyment!
SOCA members and guests were treated to a fascinating presentation by Fran Bainbridge from Bristol-based music therapy charity MusicSpace on Saturday morning, hosted by St Andrew’s Church, Taunton, and their organist Alan Cook. Fran traced the history of music therapy back to Ancient Greece, where mentally disturbed people were calmed and treated using natural sounds such as flowing water. MusicSpace itself dates back to 1991, since when its workload has steadily expanded until today its team of 15 therapists see some 400 individuals on a weekly basis.
Most of their work takes place in a one-to-one setting, except when visiting facilities such as residential homes for the elderly. At their Bristol base, where they offer three therapy rooms of different sizes, each individual meets the therapist alone, while parents or carers may observe the interaction on a screen in a next-door room. This approach eliminates complications that can arise from a parent being present, and allows spontaneous interaction to blossom freely. Fran described parents shedding tears of joy at the sight of their child at last opening up and responding to musical stimulus when for a long time they may have been outwardly unresponsive and seemingly unreachable to the parents themselves.
The beneficial effects of such therapy are far-reaching. Not only can it transform the lives and life chances of each individual by making it possible for them (for example) to form relationships and gain access to schooling, it also ripples out to other family members and even beyond the family into wider society. The increasing rate of referrals from the NHS and other bodies testifies to the effectiveness of the service MusicSpace provides.
Speaking in response, SOCA chairman Ray Willis expressed his admiration for the work being done by music therapists, a rather special breed of person with whom he has come into contact in the course of his own professional work in schools. It was not something he would dare take on himself, but the results they achieve are truly amazing. He went on to express the hope that SOCA would build on the experience of last year’s “Wind & Wave” series by sponsoring a further series of organ recitals and mixed concerts in aid of MusicSpace during 2015. A collection plate was passed round and the sum of £38 was donated as a modest first step.
Today’s lunchtime organ recital at Wells Cathedral, the first of the new series for 2015, was played by Kris Thomsett, Organ Scholar at Salisbury Cathedral. His colourful and entertaining programme ran as as follows: J S Bach Toccata & Fugue in E BWV 566; Dietrich Buxtehude Ciacona in E Minor BuxVW 160; Louis-Claude Daquin Noël Étranger; Théodore Dubois Marche des Rois Mages (March of the Three Kings); Jean Langlais Final (from Tryptique).
As Organ Scholar of Salisbury Cathedral, Kris assists the Director of Music and Assistant Director of Music with the daily services and rehearsals. Prior to his appointment at Salisbury, Kris read Music at the University of East Anglia, being one of the last to do so as the department has since, sadly, closed down. While a student there, he also held the post of Organ Scholar at Norwich Cathedral, where his duties involved playing for many of the Cathedral services as well as helping with chorister tuition. Meanwhile, Kris was also the conductor of the Barton Turf Choral Society and the Hethersett Singers, both based in Norfolk.
Recent concert engagements have included St Martin’s, Worcester as part of the annual Three Choirs Festival, and St David’s (Pembrokeshire) as part of the St David’s Festival, as well as recitals in and around Norwich including Norwich Cathedral and St Peter Mancroft. Kris is also a keen singer and was regularly included in the Norwich Cathedral Choir as a countertenor during his time at the Cathedral.
Asked how he first became interested in playing the organ, Kris explained that it was all due to visiting Rochester Cathedral on a primary school trip, during which he became fascinated with the organ above all else. He was no more than six years old and had only recently begun learning the piano, so adding the organ as well was quite a tall order! Nevertheless he persisted, and in due course became Organ Scholar at Maidstone parish church, and eventually, while studying at the King’s School in Rochester, played the Rochester Cathedral organ itself. Having formerly been a pupil of the organist Roger Sayer, Kris currently pursues his organ studies under the tutelage of William Whitehead.
MATTHEW OWENS PLAYS “WIND & WAVE” RECITAL AT KINGSBURY EPISCOPI
(From right) Recitalist Matthew Owens, host organist Jess Bromfield, and the Revd David Gent, Vicar of St Martin’s
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Kingsbury Episcopi was a fitting choice for the last recital in our “Wind & Wave” series for 2014, being next door to Muchelney, the village which was famously cut off for months on end during the flooding of the Somerset Levels. So it was doubly appropriate that the recitalist on this occasion should be Matthew Owens, Organist & Master of the Choristers at Wells Cathedral, and SOCA’s honorary president. Matthew’s programme, which was purely baroque with the exception of a delightful new work of his own, ran as follows: J S Bach, completed by Wolfgang Stockmeier Fantasia in C, BWV 573; J G Walther Concerto after Albinoni; Matthew Owens Prelude on ‘Wessex’; Johann Pachelbel Choral with 9 variations: Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan; J S Bach Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV 552.
The appreciative audience of some 50 people, young and old, were afterwards regaled with a magnificent spread of homemade cakes and other refreshments, courtesy of St Martin’s team of helpers. Thanks to their generosity, the sum of £262 was donated to Somerset Flood Relief, which will further benefit from gift aid on a proportion of the total. This brings the overall total raised for Somerset Community Foundation’s flood relief fund by this year’s series of 18 organ recitals & concerts to £4,752.61. We are hugely grateful to all the organists and other musicians who took part during the year, as well as to those church communities across Somerset who played such a vital role in hosting all the “Wind & Wave” events. Well done everyone concerned!
SOCA AGM WELCOMES GUEST SPEAKER PAUL HALE
(From right) Geoffrey Bond, outgoing SOCA chairman Brendan Chandler, new SOCA chairman Ray Willis, guest speaker Paul Hale, Mrs Anne Hale, Mrs Jane Woolrich