SOCA Visit to Honiton

On 7 October 12 SOCA members gathered at St Paul’s Church Honiton to enjoy the spectacular 1999 organ by Kenneth Tickell – in perfect condition following a comprehensive tuning on the previous day.

After a welcome from Stephen Bell, Andrew Carter summarised the history of organs in St Paul’s, much assisted by a comprehensive historical leaflet by John Mingay, the former organist of the church who masterminded the procurement of the Tickell instrument so efficiently that it was inaugurated debt-free. Andrew introduced the various ranks, individually and in combination, which were demonstrated with skilful improvisations by Stephen.

Andrew then gave a short recital of music by composers ranging from 16th-century Venice to 20th-century France, featuring contrasting plenos, trio combinations, the lively Cornet, the eloquent Cremona and the luscious Vox Angelica: all facilitated by the sensitive and responsive tracker action.

Members then took full advantage of the opportunity to play themselves. At the end of a successful afternoon there was common agreement that this beautiful instrument, perfectly voiced in a responsive acoustic, is one of the musical jewels of the South-West.

SOCA visit to Ilminster Sat 25th September 2021, 2.30 – 4 pm

Somerset organists, (or at least, 8 of them), resumed their organ-visiting activities after a long gap, caused by Covid restrictions with a visit to St. Mary’s Church, Ilminster, a fine, Gothic structure with a tall, central tower. We were greeted and welcomed by the organist, Peter Mackay, who gave us a summary of the changes made over lockdown by Michael Farley.

The organ stands in 2 cases in the West gallery, divided either side of the West window. The console faces towards the pipes, being sited in front of the great, and alongside some pedal pipes and the newly-installed rank of trumpet pipes. There are no cases: gold-painted pipes form the surround to both groups of pipes. There are pews for a choir in the gallery, and Peter told us that with the recent resumption of singing, the choir had welcomed new members.

Little change was made to the swell organ in the recent work. The great had the addition of a couple of 8’ ranks including a Dulciana for quiet accompaniment, and a flute, to allow for a better gradation of volume. The whole organ was cleaned and overhauled.

Peter gave a short demonstration, and most of the SOCA members present took a turn, playing a variety of music. Those who had played the instrument before the recent work agreed that where before, it had been adequate, but rather insipid, it now had a greater range of tone, and the sound spread well around the building. It is now an eclectic organ, capable of giving some authenticity of sound to centuries of organ music. This had been demonstrated the week before, in a celebrity recital given by Philip Scriven, who played music by Bach, John Bull, Mozart, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Franck, Elgar, Walton and Vierne.

SOCA’s next visit is on Thursday, 7th October, to hear and play the Kenneth Tickell organ in St. Paul’s Church.

Mendelssohn Event at Holy Trinity Church, Taunton

Four of our members, John Bodiley, Stephen Bell, Andrew Carter and Ian Heavisides presented this event on Saturday 7th August 2021. John gave a carefully prepared talk on Mendelssohn’s life and work, illustrated by extracts played by the other three members on the fine 3-manual Hill organ at Holy Trinity, which was recently restored by Andrew Fearn. This was a well attended event, and it was lovely to see people enjoying live music in person again after the long period of muting. Many thanks to all concerned.

Jerry King RIP

We are sure you will be sad to learn of the untimely death of our member Jerry King.  Jerry and his wife, Eleanor, originally came from Loughton, Essex, to live in Backwell where Jerry joined the choir singing bass and was very willing to play the organ when needed.  In 2000 when Jean Routley retired from being organist at Backwell Jerry took over.  Jerry, Eleanor and their two daughters, Sarah and Hannah, remained at Backwell until Eleanor was ordained, and they moved away, first of all to North Petherton and then to Nether Stowey.  Jerry held various roles on the RSCM Somerset Committee, and latterly was the highly efficient Secretary.  In that role he organised many events for singers and organists.  He was also a much valued committee member of SOCA.  In addition, he became chairman of the Diocesan Choral Association which is responsible for the annual Diocesan Choral Festival in Wells Cathedral.  His involvement in all these organisations has done much to facilitate communication and mutual support.  Sadly in 2016 Jerry suffered the amputation of his left foot, but he still continued to lead an active musical life.  His death at the age of 65, has come as a great shock and he will be much missed in the church musical life of Somerset.

7th May 2021

Advent Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton and live-streamed from our website on Sunday 6th December at 6.30 pm

Following October’s successful Organ Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church building, and November’s online Remembrance Meditation, we are now aiming to offer an Advent Meditation in St Mary Magdalene Church building on Sunday 6th December at 6.30 pm. Following the new guidance, we can have a distanced choir and a small pre-booked congregation (as previously in September & October – with rules observed in relation to distancing, masks, sanitisation and recording of attenders for contact and trace purposes).

We will present a 45-minute sequence of Advent readings and music, including a newly- composed piece God of our eternity with music by Chris Moorsom and words by Rowan Williams & Andrew Nunn. There will also be meditative organ & instrumental music and candlelight, similar to From Darkness to Light as in previous years, but shorter and quieter. No charge, but there will be a retiring collection to cover expenses and to support the church tower restoration fund.

Clearly we will not be able to have the usual large number in the congregation, so it is hoped that for those unable to attend in person the event will be live-streamed and accessible to anyone from our website.

Pre-booking essential, please contact church office: tel:  07523 322693

Organ & Violin Meditation – St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton – Saturday 7th November 2020 at 3.30 pm – with Julia Trigg (violin & reader) and Miles Quick (organ)

As you will no doubt have realised, owing to the new restrictions it will not now be possible to hold this event live in St Mary Magdalene Church this Saturday afternoon 7th November as originally planned.  However, thanks to modern technology and some hard work by various technologists, we have been able to record a short ‘Remembrance Meditation’ (amended poster attached!).  This Meditation (consiting of two meditative pieces) will be available by the same time on Saturday as the live event would have been.  The pieces will be played by Julia Trigg on the violin and Miles Quick on St Mary Magdalene’s newly renovated Father Willis organ.  Please go to the ‘What’s on’ section of the St Mary Magdalene Church website and you will be directed to the Meditation.
We offer it, in addition to our online service for Remembrance Sunday, in the hope that it will help in quietly remembering and giving thanks for those loved ones who have gone before us, whom we see no more, but – as the Last Post and Reveille remind us – who now live ‘upon another shore and in a greater light’.
One advantage of online is that whereas before we were restricted by regulations to a small pre-booked audience, now there is no limit (‘that multitude which no man can number’ as it says in the King’s Carol Service bidding prayer).  So please feel free to share it!
Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to seeing you again in person.