News Archives 2015

21st November 2015


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(From left) Stephen Bell, SOCA Chairman Ray Willis, Guest Speaker Andrew Millington, Marion Mainhood, David Mainhood

31st October 2015


(From left) Michael Hollis, Sarah Cochrane, Patrick Rendell, Peter Cox, Alison Rendell, Stella Warren 

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.

17th October 2015


John Bodiley and Naomi Chidgey

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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).



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 for fuller details. All organists are welcome to come and play it.



(From left) Vicky Heavisides, Eleanor Dixon, Ian Heavisides, Jay Waite, Sue Bowdrey, Peter Cox, Judith Cox

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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.



Marcus Wibberley relaxes after his Wells Cathedral recital

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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.



Peter Kingston by the console at St Cuthbert’s (just before his fans descended!)

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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.



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.



(From left) Mrs Vicky Heavisides, Dr Ian Heavisides, Fr Julian Laurence

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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.



(From left) Miles Quick, Hilary Shaw, Margaret Phillips, Peter Cox, John Radford

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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.



Shaun Ward in the Quire after his recital

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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

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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 alongside the St John’s pulpit with its antique hourglass, a gift from the American Embassy after D-Day

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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.



(From left) Alfred Jewel Benefice’s Curate Eleanor King, Claire Powell, Joan Winspear, Miles Quick, Ray Willis

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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.



(From left) St Mary’s organist Doug Smith, Nicholas Freestone, Ruth Jeanes, Hannah Deason-Barrow, John Bodiley, Ray Willis

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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.



(From left) Derek Dorey, Alexander Henshaw, Nicholas Freestone, Hugo Dodsworth, SOCA’s Patron Lady Gass, and her sister Mary Ackland-Hood

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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 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.



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

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




Timothy Parsons

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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.



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.



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!



Alan Cook, Organist of St Andrew’s Taunton, enjoys a spot of music therapy with Fran Bainbridge of MusicSpace

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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.

For more information on the MusicSpace Trust, click here.

For a glimpse into music therapy in action, click here.



Kris Thomsett (left) in conversation with Jonathan Vaughn, Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral

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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.

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