Chairman’s Report – November 2017

ChairmanThe past year has been an interesting one for SOCA. However, much of what I would like to say would only repeat much of what I said last year. I would encourage you to look at that if you have the chance. So – moving on – we have a core membership who are very enthusiastic about the Association, but we have a much greater number of members who seem content to pay their annual membership and not contribute much, if anything, more. Even discussion by email would be a start, and that requires little effort more than sitting at a computer or mobile phone. I have tried to throw out some minor challenges in the hope of some kind of response with my blogs, and would welcome responses and interaction!

We have held events at North Petherton (kindly shared with Andrew Hinckley and their recital series) featuring myself, Ian Heavisides, Robert Millington, Stephen Price, (and tomorrow Andrew Hinckley with soprano solos from Imogen Davies). Stoke St Gregory featured John Bodiley with Frances Webb playing recorder, Chard Methodist Church with Ian Heavisides, St John’s Wellington with the Wallscourt Brass Ensemble with organ, and a Young Peoples Recital at St John’s Glastonbury featuring 2 young organists, percussion (Marimba and Vibraphone), and a young soprano soloist. Come and Play events at St John’s Taunton, and 3 big organs in one day at Bristol (St. Mary Redcliffe, Christ Church City, and the Cathedral). On the educational side of things we have had a “Practice makes Perfect” evening led by Hilary Shaw, and an evening on basic improvisation (“Cover the Action – Mind the Gap”) with John Bodiley and myself. Last (but by no means least) a Summer Social with Hilary Shaw. Combining with other instrumentalists and singers has the great benefit of widening and increasing audiences to everyone’s benefit.

We have continued to lend support to the local area RSCM events (4 in all) at Taunton, Glastonbury (2 events), and Minehead.

Our charity support decreased noticeably last year with the total raised being only £803-95. This year we are back up to £1287-32 at the last count, but Doug may revise that figure in his report. We need to select a charity to support for the coming year and we will talk more about that later in this meeting.

Now for the challenge! Looking to the future, we live in a world of change both educationally and liturgically. As I have said before, if we fail to anticipate and adapt, we miss out on so many opportunities to contribute to the overall musical scene. The world of the organ is under threat, as has happened several times in past history. We must adapt and be seen to be musicians first with the organ and choral music as our specialism. Here we have an advantage over the RSCM as we have the opportunity to accommodate the many secular and community choirs that are becoming so popular, along with their accompanists (who are frequently organists) and directors. We must broaden our appeal if we are not to become the musical dinosaurs of the 21st century. At this present time most people expect to have organs and organists available for the important occasions in their lives. This situation could change if churches short-sightedly get rid of organs and organists. Weddings, funerals and major civic and university occasions expect organ music, and good organists will increasingly be shared, as is already starting to happen. It is up to us to ensure these occasions will value us and our contribution to their celebrations and not look upon us as difficult and dogmatic eccentrics unwilling to embrace new ideas. We must also be seen to be willing to work alongside, but maybe not always as a part of, the music groups that are appearing in so many places.

As I closed in my report last year, 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 thank each other for all our continuing enthusiasm and support. SOCA as an association is all of us. There is no point having team leaders if there is no team to lead! I would dearly like us to have a much bigger team. Communicate with us, your committee and officers, and we must encourage as many new members as we can. I look forward to a coming year of growth and new ideas to augment what we already have.

Ray Willis

November 2017