Following October’s successful Organ Meditation, we are offering another for November (again with distancing, masks, sanitisation and records of attenders as on Sundays) with a small pre-booked audience. Bookings can be made with the church office. Inspiring music will be introduced and played, and the event will be a chance to come apart from the concerns of the day and be uplifted, soothed and roused – all in the course of 45 minutes!! This time some of the music will have a Remembrance theme. Admission free, retiring collection. I do hope it might be of interest to you – if so please do contact the Church Office to book a place.
Pre-booking is required and there are only a small number of places, so please book asap!
In a cautious attempt to get back to some live music in church and to raise spirits we are offering the following 45-minute event, using our recently renovated Father Willis organ. We will use the same covid-safety procedures as we are now using for our Sunday morning services (see below). I do hope it might be of interest to you – if so please do contact the Church Office to book a email@example.com 322693
Pre-booking is required and there are only a small number of places, so please book asap!
Organ Meditation – St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton, Saturday 3rd October 2020 at 3.30 pm – with Jonathan Price, Director of Music, Christ Church, Bristol City
The guidance now allows us to go ahead with this (with distancing, masks, sanitisation and records of attenders as on Sundays) with a small pre-booked audience. Bookings can be made with the church office. Following the success of a recent similar post-lockdown event in Wells Cathedral, inspiring music will be introduced and played, and the event will be a chance to come apart from the concerns of the day and be uplifted, soothed and roused – all in the course of 45 minutes!! New Father Willis can do all these things! Admission free, retiring collection. Following this event we hope to reinstate more events as the guidance allows – watch this space!
St John’s Taunton Lunchtime Recital Series
Friday 14th August 2020
Virtual Organ Recital of English Music by
recorded on the Father Willis Organ at St John’s Church, Park Street, Taunton
The recital will be available from 12 noon on: http://youtube.com/JonathanDelbridge
Jonathan has arranged a lovely collection of music ranging from Purcell’s Rondo to the much loved ‘Nimrod’ Variation and Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar. Rawsthorne’s Hornpipe Humoresque and the Flor Peeters Festival Voluntary have also been included. If people wish to show their appreciation of Jonathan’s performance, they are invited to give a donation for Somerset Churches Trust and St John’s Organ Fund by using the Easy Fundraising website. Further information can be found on the St John’s Church website: http://www.stjohnstaunton.org.uk
9th July 2020
Saturday 22 February 2020 3pm – 4.30pm
There was an excellent turn out for our ‘Come and Play’ event on the newly rebuilt Willis organ which was hosted by Miles last Saturday afternoon at St Mary Magdalene church in the centre of Taunton . Miles welcomed everyone and then after giving a brief history of the church and the development of the organ started the afternoon off with a brilliant performance of the ‘Allegro’ from Percy Whitlock’s Plymouth Suite to the delight of all those present. Others quickly followed with pieces ranging from simple hymn tunes to more complicated works by Bach, Carson, Oldroyd and Brahms.
The afternoon was in no sense a competition or recital, it was merely (to quote John Bodiley) an informal meeting with tea, cake and music. Geoff, from Michael Farley Organ builders who had been commissioned to update the Henry Willis organ, was on hand should anything go wrong with the new instrument. Personally I found it a real delight to play and enjoyed every minute of this unique opportunity. An audience of visitors quickly formed in the main body of the church and tea and cakes, provided by the good ladies of the parish, were enjoyed by all! What better way to spend a cold and wet Saturday afternoon and what a complete privilege to have been given the opportunity to play this wonderful instrument!!!!
A huge thankyou to Miles and Geoff for being there and guiding us through the stop registrations and of course to the committee and all those who worked so tirelessly to organise a wonderful afternoon to make sure that it was such a success.
Report by Ian Gouge
As part of our educational outreach we have set up…
Our latest initiative is a scheme to offer a free one-hour visit to give guidance on the organ you usually play.
WHO IS IT FOR?
- For players and prospective players of all abilities and ages
- You may be a pianist who has been asked to play the organ
- Or be interested in understanding the organ better
- Or just someone wishing to improve their playing
WHAT COULD BE INCLUDED?
- How the mechanism works
- What the stops do and which are the best ones to use
- How to play a hymn or song effectively
- How to use the organ to encourage a congregation to sing their best
- How to start to use the pedals
- How to practise effectively
- Where you can get help to learn more and develop your skills in the future
These are just suggestions, but the sessions can be tailored to individual needs.
HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE?
Please feel free to contact the following SOCA representatives:
Taunton Area and General
Chairman’s Report – November 2019
April 9th this year saw us in St Mary’s Bridgwater yet again. This time for the Memorial Service for Brendan Chandler with an ad hoc choir who sang John Rutter’s “Gaelic Blessing”. Brendan had loyally served St Mary’s together with SOCA and the RSCM for a great many years. He is greatly missed.
Our programme of events during the year have included a discussion evening on Performance Anxiety led, and hosted, by Hilary Shaw. A visit to East Devon organs & Michael Farley’s workshop in Budleigh Salterton, taking in St Peter’s, Budleigh Salterton, Michael’s workshop at Colaton Raleigh, David Davies recital at Withcombe Raleigh Parish Church, Sidmouth Parish Church, and Ottery St Mary. And in July we enjoyed a “Play the Organ” event at St Mary’s Bridgwater. September saw a visit to Edington Priory with its recent 2manual Harrison & Harrison organ with Mark Venning talking about its design, followed by the remodelled church at Holy Trinity, Frome, with their top of the range 3manual Allen digital organ, and ending up at Hemington (dating from the 1340’s and now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust) with their delightful single manual and pedal organ rebuilt by Trevor Tipple.
Some of our members have individually enjoyed recitals in Wells Cathedral, Llandaff Cathedral, and Buckfast Abbey with its new Ruffatti organ.
The year has, at last, seen the launch of our “Somerset Organists Support Scheme” offering support for players and prospective players of all abilities and ages. This is worthy of far greater support and PR than it has so far achieved. The Scheme is the result of a lot of hard work from those who have set it up, and it could be a great asset to churches of all denominations if only we could get the support it deserves from the respective authorities.
A lot could be learned from our neighbouring associations as to managing to appeal to our prospective membership. We suffer from being essentially a rural association covering a very wide and, in much of our geography – sparsely populated, catchment area. Church congregations are diminishing fast, and with that, the financial abilities to maintain expensive items such as organs. It is no wonder that the clergy find a music group who provide their own instruments and time at no cost whatsoever to their churches to be an attractive proposition. If we are seen as awkward and unhelpful people with old fashioned ideas, unwilling to compromise, then I fear that organs and organists will continue to disappear from the worship scenario in many churches. This once happened on a national scale in the past, though for very different religion based political reasons, and organs and organists bounced back eventually. Our “Cathedral Tradition” is admired worldwide and is deserving of continuing preservation and support. But the wind of change is blowing strongly in our smaller churches and, if we are to survive, we must make compromises. We are all, including our clergy, servants to our churches. I’m reminded of the organist who stated that “I will not permit such rubbish to be sung in my church”. I had to remind him that it is not “my church”, and we are all here as “servants to OUR church”. I can envisage a time when the major churches, abbeys, and Cathedrals will have pipe organs accompanying proficient choirs, whilst the smaller parish churches will have essentially congregational music of whatever kind but, hopefully a mixed balance. The organ is still the most capable instrument for leading congregational singing with its sustained tone.
Our thanks are due to all our committee members for their time and support, but especially to Derek for coping with the massive amount of work required of our Secretary. Also to Doug for keeping our finances in good order, and to Miles for maintaining our website.
Exciting plans for 2020 are already in the pipeline and I recommend watching the website for future news and events. The success of SOCA is up to all of our membership, not just the committee. If ideas feed in from everyone as to possible events, maybe even ‘local’ events, then your committee can gauge what is likely to be successful. It is, after all, an association of all its parts. I am stepping down from the Chair now, and I really do wish SOCA the very best for its future.
23 November 2019
On Saturday, 7th September, I was unable to go on the SOCA trip because we had an arrangement to visit an old friend currently living in Cardiff. To compensate for the omission, we went to hear David Briggs play the Gala Recital in Llandaff Cathedral as part of the IAO’s Organfest in Cardiff.
It was an outstanding performance. He began with his own transcription of the final movement from Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony, in which he played the orchestral parts as well as the organ solo. A Chorale Prelude by Bach led into Bach’s Piѐce d’Orgue with some interesting registration, and some rubato in the middle section. Then came Beethoven’s Fugue in D, a new piece to me. After a quiet movement from a Widor symphony, the real meat of the first part of the recital was a performance of Dupré’s 2nd Symphony. This is, as some of you will know, a piece requiring an outstanding technique along with an ability to get the most from a major organ. The colour that David Briggs obtained was dazzling, constantly changing, and ranging from a rich string chorus through to heavy reeds.
The second part consisted of an improvisation on 3 Welsh tunes: in English, these were Land Of My Fathers, All Through The Night, and Men Of Harlech. Again, the variety of sounds and musical styles was stupendous, with fugues and toccatas aplenty.
The recital was recorded by the BBC for a radio 3 broadcast on 25th September. I recommend listening to it. Perhaps it might be worth considering a SOCA visit? This Nicholson organ was all new a few years ago, and has huge tonal resources.
above: Robin Walker (composer) and Matthew Redman after the recital
Matthew Redman’s lunchtime recital at Wells Cathedral on Thursday 11thJuly 2019 was filled with upbeat and enjoyable pieces and playing. Matthew introduced himself in ebullient fashion before launching into Robin Walker’s Carillon. The composer himself was present (see photo) and this made an assertive and joyful start to the recital. The pieces that followed were all from the twentieth century by composers as diverse as Jehan Alain and Harold Brittain. In the Alain dances the rhythmic intricacy was invigorating, and it was good to hear the late Peter Hurford’s Paean which again celebrated the splendid range of colours available on the Wells organ. Matthew’s knowledge of this organ really paid off and we heard some deliciously unusual sounds. Great dexterity was shown in the Vierne Impromptu. Pedal dexterity (!) was also tellingly demonstrated in Brittain’s Variations on I got rhythm– including moments of quadruple pedalling – which ended this recital as it began, in joyous and celebratory form.
Report by Miles Quick