Chairman’s Report – November 2016

Chairman2015/2016 has been a mixed year for SOCA. The support for our chosen charity has been considerably down from previous years. This could be attributed to some of our membership feeling unable to support music therapy and rehabilitation for the prison service. The total raised is only £753-95 plus an additional £25 in gift aid. Putting on concerts or other events in support of a chosen charity gives the association a sense of purpose which unites our enthusiasm to work together towards a common goal, and I sincerely hope that we can continue with this in future years. Thanks are due to John Bodiley and his connection with the Richard Huish Sixth Form College, all the organists who played the series of recitals at St Mary’s Church North Petherton including their organist Andrew Hinkley with young trumpeters Thomas and Gregory Jordan, Ian Heavisides, Stephen Price, and Peter Duce. Also to Peter Cox, John Guttridge, Lizzie Matuszezyk, and Jonathan Harris for the concert at Creech St Michael which ended with superb cakes. Sadly Jerry King was unable to contribute to the series at North Petherton due to a major health problem and will hopefully return home from hospital shortly. We wish him well soon, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. John Bodiley’s illustrated talk on the life of J S Bach was entertaining and informative – enjoyed by all.

Earlier in the year our presentation to Andrew Morton was an opportunity to show our appreciation as well as enjoy the hospitality of the Ring O’Bells yet again. The Young Organist’s Recital at Glastonbury attracted an unexpectedly low audience but those who were there enjoyed some superb playing from Nicholas Tall and Chris Hamilton. We have had two enjoyable and successful visits to Oxford (Merton, Wadham, and Keble Colleges) and to Stogursey, Stringston, and the historic barrel organ at St Audries (West Quantoxhead).

The Somerset Area RSCM have programmed three events which we have included in our schedule. A plainsong day at Glastonbury Abbey led by Rosemary Field, a “Songs of Praise” event at St Benedict’s Glastonbury for singers and instrumentalists led by Miles Quick who is the RSCM Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music, assisted by Derek Dorey, and a Clergy and Organists Day at Abbey House Glastonbury led by Helen Bent. These were all well attended.

This link with the Somerset Area RSCM (Derek Dorey and Jerry King are chair and secretary of their committee, and Miles Quick is the RSCM Head of Congregational and Instrumental Music) leads me on to a thought which I have been musing upon for a while now. The RSCM by the nature of its title is specifically for church musicians. We have an all embracing catchment to include all organists and singers. We frequently double up on each other but surely WE have the scope to think outside the box and reach out to a much wider membership. A recent survey showed that around 80% of organ scholars at our colleges and universities have no intention of taking up church or cathedral appointments. Add to that the huge number of Choral Societies, Chamber Choirs, and Community Choirs that are out there and we have an enormous potential membership which we are not reaching yet. Whilst not wishing to jettison anything we have (and value) at present, in this changing world we need to adapt to survive. To this end I would like to set up a Chairman’s blog section, possibly on our website, where this idea could be presented along with any other thoughts which I, or others, may have for the Association. I would then invite and appreciate replies either on the site or direct to me. Alternatively – maybe this is an opportunity to develop our Facebook link which, at present, doesn’t do much if anything. Maybe we need to re-brand without changing our title?

It remains for me to especially thank all the members of the committee for their support and input to the Association’s presence and activities. Without their enthusiasm none of our activities could have happened. But also we must all thank each other for all our enthusiasm and support. SOCA is your association. There is no point being a team leader if there is no team to lead! I look forward to a coming year of growth and new ideas to augment what we already have.

Ray Willis,  5th November 2016