|Welcome - The President's Piece, Jan 2013 - Programme for 2013 - Recital on 5th October 2013 - Windsor & Eton - David Briggs Master Class - IAO Nuremberg Congress 2013 - Reigate Report - Recital by Nicholas Frayling - Silbermann trip - Chichester Lunchtime Concerts - Westbourne Church Organ - Contact - Membership - Objectives - How to Join - Reports on our activities - President's Message - Articles by John Collins - Ancient Churches of Sussex - Millennium Survey
This site is packed with information about the activities of the Association, as well as lots of colour photographs of many splendid instruments both from this county and others.
The WSOA is one of the most active of the county Organists' Associations making trips both within England and to the Continent.
Look at the photos in the site. We hope that you will join the Association. You can read excerpts from our quarterly newsletter online, but why not join and get the newsletter delivered to your home, days before the web publication.
We have recently completed the Millennium Survey of Pipe Organs in West Sussex, a volume which has been greatly admired, and has sold very well. We have made a modest profit on the book and it is already into its third printing! Please go the Millennium Book Page on this site to view the introductory pages of the book. If you want to purchase a copy, please write to The Organist, Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, West Sussex.
We are affiliated to the Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO) which publishes the excellent "Organists' Review". Keep in touch with the world of the pipe organ by joining us and also taking the OR.
Happy New Year! The photo shows the removal of the Cathedral organ blower this week for repair, and I should hasten to make it clear that this has nothing to do with the volume of Tim Ravalde's Christmas voluntaries.... So we begin our year at the Cathedral without the main organ, but grateful for our one-manual Walker chamber organ in the Quire, and the one manual and pedals Poling organ in the Nave. The splendid Poling organ already boosts the organ sound in the Nave for our Sunday congregations, and we are now doubly grateful for its presence which will keep our Sunday services going.
Choosing music for these instruments makes me realise how incredibly blessed we are to have the Cathedral organ. So many of the Bach and Buxtehude chorale-preludes require 2 manuals, and we will need to choose with care other pieces which will sound well with just a 16' pedal Bourdon plus coupler. This Sunday I shall be attempting the Buxtehude Praeludium in C, and I am slightly apprehensive about playing it in full view of the congregation. Some of us get very used to being invisible in an organ loft and communicating purely by the sounds we make.
We will have a lot of early music (which I will love) for Evensong, accompanied on the chamber organ. For the first time, Tim and I will have the challenge of being able to see each other. Making eye-contact, which is so natural to all other musicians, can be terrifying to loft-bound organists. I am actually looking forward to this aspect of the next few weeks, and the possibility of music-making in a more intimate setting. I am always interested to hear the divergent views of our WSOA members concerning big screens for organ concerts. Everyone agrees that for our outreach projects such as Daniel Moult's concert and demonstration last year, a big screen makes all the difference. We will have the big screen in the Nave for Mark Wardell's organ concert in the Chichester Southern Cathedrals Festival at 7pm on Thursday 18 July this year, but many of you will choose to sit in the special WSOA seats in the south transept to hear the organ at its best and without the distraction of a picture. However, I am guessing a few of the south transept group will sneak round the corner to watch Mark improvise at the end!
Further details about booking for Mark Wardell's SCF recital will be available in the next few months, and there is even talk of a WSOA early evening meal beforehand. For those with endless energy, Mark will be playing jazz piano into the night at the Fringe Jazz Club in the Bishop's Kitchen - a lovely venue for a drink afterwards. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you at the President's Evening on Tuesday 21 May.
(all events also open to non members at the relevant charge)
|Saturday 23rd March, 10 30 am||Petersfield and the Meon Valley.||Petersfield Parish Church, pub lunch (or sandwiches) Petersfield Methodist Church and St John's, West Meon. Minibus transport will be available.|
|Tuesday 21st May, 6 30 for 7 00 pm||Presidents Evening at the Cathedral||dinner followed by Organ Recital. Price to remain at 18 pounds per person. A cash bar will be available once again.|
|Saturday 1st June, 10 30 am||a chance to play the Eton College chapel organ||then pub lunch (or sandwiches) followed by a visit to St George's Windsor to hear and see (but not play) the Harrison organ).Minibus transport will be available. Parking at Eton College - car reg no's to the Hon Sec in advance please or connect to trains from Clapham Junction to Windsor and Eton Riverside.|
|Sunday 14th July||David Briggs||afternoon masterclass and evening recital (7 30 pm) - at Arundel Cathedral. Tickets for the masterclass will be available for participants and observers. Ticket prices nearer the time.|
|Thursday 18th July at 7 pm||SCF Organ Recital at Chichester Cathedral||given by Mark Wardell. Priority block booking will be available to WSOA members and there will be the chance to meet for a meal beforehand for those that are interested. Mark will also be involved in the jazz fringe event later in the evening (with barbecue). Further details nearer the time.|
|Wednesday 4th September at 4 pm||Bramble Ramble||round Madehurst, Slindon and Eartham organs.|
|Thursday 17th October, 6 30 for 7 pm||AGM||Drinks and recital by young organists followed by the AGM at St Andrew's, Tarring, Chichester. A chance to hear and play the brand new Nicholson organ.|
OCTOBER 5th 2013
Organ Recital at St Mary's, Felpham.
7:30pm Admission Free, but donations welcome for the Church Mission Society and United Society.
This is the inaugural recital of the newly installed instrument given by the Revd. Timothy Peskett. He is a very accomplished organist with a wide repertoire. He has been known to give thundering renditions of Souza marches, so if any of you miss the late Carlo Curly and his Stars and Stripes forever, you might just find a fulfilling experience in attending this concert.
Earlier this year there was a trip, organised by WSOA, to see, hear and play the organs of Eton College and to view the organ at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Some people shared a minibus for transport whilst others travelled independently but we all met outside Eton College on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June, where we were greeted by the Organist and Head of Keyboard at the school, David Goode.
David Goode gave a short introduction about the college before taking us through to the chapel to see the first two organs. There were four organs for us to hear at Eton so we stuck to a fairly strict programme in order to have adequate time with each. The organs are as follows. College Chapel, two organs: Snetzler (1760) and Hill (1885). School Hall: Mittenreiter/Flentrop (1773). Lower Chapel: Tickell (2000).
In the College Chapel, David gave a short talk about the two instruments after which he played the small one-manual Snetzler organ. Then he demonstrated the magnificent four-manual Hill organ with its beautifully decorated 32' Open Diapasons which dominate the front of the instrument. We were then invited to play the Hill organ.
Then we moved on to the school hall over the road where it was still set out for exams. On the wall opposite the entrance to the hall, there is the two-manual Mittenreiter/Flentrop organ (1773). This organ was originally built for a church in Rotterdam but was moved to Eton in the early 20th Century when Willis incorporated it into a four manual instrument. However in 1973, Willis's work was reversed and the organ was restored to its original specification by Flentrop under the watchful eye of Dr Peter Hurford. After David's demonstration, there was time for members to play the organ including our secretary who treated us to some of the Bach 'St Anne'.
A short walk through the streets of Eton took us to the Lower School Chapel and the Tickell organ (2000) which, owing to its versatility, is used for most of the organ teaching at the college. David played the Allegro from Widor's 6th Symphony which clearly showed the full capabilities of this instrument. David said he has about a dozen pupils at the school who are learning to play the organ. Again, we were invited to play the Tickell organ after which David brought our visit to Eton College to a close.
After Eton, there was just time for tea in a local hostelry before making our way up the hill to St George's Chapel to attend Evensong. The service was sung by the men and accompanied by the organ scholar, Joseph Beech. As expected, the standard of music was very high indeed. After the service, we were given a talk about the organ by the acting director of music, Richard Pinel who also gave us a demonstration whilst we were seated in the quire. After the demonstration, we were allowed upstairs to view the organ console which is on the screen with the two main cases on either side.
A very enjoyable and informative day out.
A sizeable bunch of organ aficiandos ascended the stairs to the organ loft at Arundel Cathedral to observe the masterclass given by the internationally renowned virtuoso David Briggs prior to his evening recital. We were treated to pieces by Mathias, Alain and Messiaen as well as some impromptu improvisation by Organist and Master of the Choristers Elizabeth Stratford. It was uplifting to hear the organ played with so much authority by the two younger participants, William Dodd and Jack Redman and Maestro Briggs was on hand to assist with registration as well as putting everyone at ease in order that they give of their best. All those present took several things away from the workshop whether they were a dyed in the wool church organist or the ordinary layman. In particular the subject of musical accentuation and the use of the acoustic were explored in detail and we were presented with many useful starting points for improvisation within the liturgy.
This is just the sort of event that we should be supporting (in keeping with our charitable aims) and in addition to a contribution from the association there was also a grant from the IAO towards the two events which, understandably, were fairly costly to put on. This, along with a profit on the refreshments, resulted in the books being balanced as well as the obvious musical enrichment gained by all those that managed to attend.
David Briggs recital.
ARUNDEL CATHEDRAL 14TH JULY 7 30 pm
Elizabeth Stratford has to be congratulated on bringing a world class organist to Arundel Cathedral: such a shame that the size of the audience did not match his celebrity, but those of us who attended had a real treat from a masterful improviser. Indeed the whole recital was improvised.
The recital commenced with a suite of mediaeval dances which brought flavours of the Languedoc; in fact we never left that region and neither did the registration. Next the Praeludium in the Buxtehude style, a brilliant invention recalling the idioms of the period; here was Bohm, a spot of Sweelink and Pachelbel, and a welter of Buxtehude brought together in a masterful improvisation.
David Briggs must have had the 18 in mind when he improvised the Chorale Prelude in the style of JSB. Rather too long to my mind but delightfully idiomatic. A Mozart style Andante and variations followed, somewhat predictable in content, and then the Fantasie in the style of Franck; this was a superlative piece, and for an affectianado of Franck, a wholly satisfying experience, with reminiscences of many of the favourite passages in his major works.
"I really enjoyed myself in that one" David said to me after the recital referring to the "Danse infernale in the style of Igor Stravinsky", and so did we. Brilliant diverse rhythms and typical Stravinsky harmonies produced the most exciting piece of the recital. The Rite of Spring was almost surpassed by this demonic performance which the Arundel organ amply satisfied with its superb reeds; this was improvisation on a masterful scale, and made me think how short sighted Stravinsky was when when he condemned the organ as unable to breath. This organ snared, puffed and howled to the diabolical themes produced by Mr Briggs.
Finally Vierne; the prelude, clair de lune and Gargoyles were skillful and atmospheric, albeit a trifle lengthy; but the finale, "Les cloches d'Anvers" was a triumph. Taking the theme from Dutch church bells and giving them the Carillon de Westminster treatment, David Briggs produced a magnificent improvisation, just as exciting as the Westminster piece, and I think, mercifully shorter than that old warhorse. Even non-organists must have thrilled to hear this masterpiece of the Mr Briggs' art.
Two thoughts; firstly, it is becoming increasingly common for improvisations in the style of a composer or school of composition to be offered in recitals; this is all very well, but I like to hear the style and musicianship of the player as well, as we do with recitalists such as Mark Wardell and others. These element can often be subsumed in the style of the composer imitated, and I think the jury must be out on this trend.
Secondly, for an organist/enthusiast, this recital was superb, and intriguing to follow the nuances and pastiches at the heart of each improvisation. Nevertheless I do wonder whether a recital solely of improvisation is going to satisfy and draw a large audience of the not so dedicated. Of course, to hear the Arundel instrument is a treat worth the entrance fee by itself, but I did begin to wonder whether this recital would have been wholly satisfying for the non organ enthusiasts, who might wish to hear some of the old favourites , and finish with an improvisation, as is the usual practice. David Briggs gave us the very best of his art, but a few lollipops might have been more of a draw.
120 delegates, some from as far away as Australia and the United States; 7organ recitals by outstanding soloists; 5 picturesque towns; 1 first-class hotel; warm sunny weather; and even a pop festival! What more could one want?
July 25 and after checking in at our hotel and an early dinner we walked into the restored historic old town for a recital at St. Lorenz Kirche which boasts 3 very different organs all controlled from a magnificent 5 manual console. The Cantor, Matthias Ank, treated us to an interesting programme, rangeing from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, designed to show off the capabilities of the organs including the chamades and rossignol stops. If any amongst us were nodding off after their long journeys they were certainly woken up by the relatively unfamiliar final piece, Koncertstuck in C minor by Marco Enrico Bossi. Wandering around the church after the recital many were startled by the photographs of the damage sustained by the Church in the second World War; about 90% of the historic city, including its walls, was destroyed during WWII, but has been magnificently reconstructed.
The following day we visited Bamberg, a tenth century town on seven hills with steep cobbled streets. Fortunately we only had to climb one of them to get to our first recital at the Cathedral, an odd building which was double-ended and the wrong way round – the altar being at the west end instead of the east. Another excellent recital by Markus Willinger with a rousing finale, Reger's Fantasia on the Chorale Wachet Auf. Tea, coffee, cold drinks and nibbles were provided in a shady courtyard of the complex.
There was plenty of time available for lunch followed by sight-seeing for the energetic or just relaxing by the river in the shade, before the final recital on top of another hill. A brilliant recital at St. Stephans Kirche by Frau Ingrid Kaspar ended our time in Bamberg. Another enjoyable varied programme from Buxtehude to Jean Langlais and afterwards her CDs were much in demand.
Saturday was a leisurely day for exploring Nuremberg with just one recital at the Frauenkirche by Frank Dillman. Another varied programme and I was struck by the sheer enjoyment in the music shown by our recitalist. A scheduled afternoon recital had to be cancelled as the church, St. Sebaldus Kirche, was next to the main venue of a three day pop festival. Most of us joined the crowds of people of all ages strolling through the town enjoying the huge variety of music and musicians, in all sorts of combinations, on offer.
Our fourth day was spent in Regensburg. Just time for a coffee before attending High Mass at the Cathedral, followed by a short recital by Franz Josef Stoiber on the new Rieger organ for which he acted as Consultant. The organ is the largest free hanging organ in the world. After lunch Professor Stoiber was our guide and host on a tour of the Academy for Church Music. Established in 1874 it became a college in 2001 and offers many degree courses as well as Church and organ studies. We were able to play the organs in the practice rooms and our visit ended in the Concert hall – converted from a former stable block – when a student played an improvisation on the chorale "Allein Gott".
The penultimate day was a very busy one. It began at St. Bartolomaus Kirche, Pegnitz, where we joined a large audience of the local congregation for a recital by the Cantor Jorg Fuhr in which he was joined by his wife as alto soloist.
Then to Bayreuth for a Master-class in which we learned a great deal as Professor Thomas Rothert guided Jonathan Allsopp through Liszt's Weinen, Klagen, Zorgen, Sagen.
Bayreuth is a beautiful town with many fine eighteenth century buildings laid out by the ruling Margrave after disastrous fires and plague in the seventeenth century had devastated the town. Unsurprisingly in this 200th anniversary year there were many statues of Richard Wagner to be seen, and stacks of seemingly every possible CD and DVD of his music ever recorded. Professor Mareile Schmidt provided the final recital of Congress at the Schlossekirche with works by Franz Liszt and transcriptions by Lemare of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and the Ride of the Valkyries.
Back to Nuremberg for the Annual Dinner at the end of which Alan Thurlow handed his President's badge to the new President, James Lancelot. And so ended a really wonderful Congress. Grateful thanks to Alan for selecting such a wonderful area to visit and special thanks to the most efficient Congress Administrator, Jane Allsopp and her committee.
Day 6 Departure – except for many of us it wasn't; the aeroplane developed a fault, and we were taxied to hotels for another night in Nuremberg and re-routed to London the following day via various continental airports .
On Saturday 16th September 2012 a small group of members journeyed to Surrey to visit the churches of St. Mark, Reigate and St. Matthew, Redhill. At both Churches our affable knowledgeable host was Terrence Hancock, organist at St Mark's for 36 years and previously organist at St Matthew's. The churches have much in common; typical large Victorian buildings, consecrated in 1860 and 1866 respectively. Now open-plan with no chancel arch. In both churches most of the seating was in rented pews, a useful source of income, with about a third free for the poor. At St. Mark's some of the pews are still marked as free. The population of Reigate and Redhill had grown enormously during the second half of the nineteenth century due to the arrival of the railways. Three different lines converged at Redhill and 4 churches - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were built within a few years of each other to cater for the increased numbers. In 1920 St. Mark's had more than 700 on the electoral roll; at St Matthew's in 1919 out of a parish population of 7,000 1,500 were on the electoral roll.
Large buildings need relatively large organs, and both Churches have a 3-manual instrument with generous tone. The Redhill organ dates from1902 being built by Hunter & Son of Clapham. It has 32 speaking stops with another 6 prepared for, 1842 pipes and tubular pneumatic action. An electric blower was added in 1939 and the organ was cleaned. It seems to have had remarkably little alteration since then apart from some work by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1981, presumably adding such accessories as thumb pistons. The Reigate instrument had a more chequered history. In 1860 the original instrument was a 2 manual and pedal organ, by Gray and Davison and cost £220. This was replaced in 1899 by the present 3 manual Father Willis organ at a cost of £1,444. In the late 1920s Hill, Norman and Beard made some alterations: 16 Trombone added to pedal, compass of Swell Vox Angelica extended and on the Choir organ the Cor Anglais was replaced bya Clarinet. Later, new couplers were added and an electric blower was installed. In 1969 there was considerable water damage to the organ following a severe storm necessitating major restoratiom work which was carried out by N.P.Mander.
We began our visit at St. Mark's, Reigate in one of the spacious rooms of the large Church Hall where we were welcomed by our host. After restorative coffee and biscuits, Terrence gave us a brief history of the Church and the organ and then demonstrated its considerable repertoire of tones and colours. He prides himself on never using music and ably demonstrated his skills by extemporising on "Let all mortal flesh". Then it was our turn. We soon found that it was quite difficult to access the organ as the bench was non-adjustable, crammed against the back of the choir stalls with a narrow ledge. At least 2 of us had to be bodily lifted on to the bench! Later we asked Terrence how he coped. With an agility which would have done credit to an Olympic gymnast, with one hand on the choir stall he executed a beautiful vault on to the bench. The last of our party to play tried emulating this feat, but alas, lacked the grace of years of practice!
Then a pleasant companionable lunch at "The Yew Tree", a short drive to St. Matthew's - and another challenging organ seat! As before, Terrence introduced the Church and demonstrated the organ - Wagner, S.S. Wesley and another improvisation. Most members of our group of nine played before parting at 4 o'clock after a most enjoyable outing. Our grateful thanks to Terrence for his hospitality and to Matthew for arranging the visit.
DM Norton 5/19/2012
(Come when you can - go when you must. Sandwiches may be eaten.)
For current events, please visit www.chichestercathedral.org.uk and click "Skip Intro" and then "What's On".
|TUESDAYS 1.10 - 2.00 p.m.|
Mark Burgess has recorded a trumpet tune by William Boyce on the new Kenneth Tickell organ at Westbourne church. If you have Windows Media Player, click here to hear it [WMA file, 2Mb. Total time: 2:32].
To find out more details, please e-mail the acting honorary secretary Matthew Cooke ARCO, at 24 Toronto Road, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 0QX Tel: 07776 075275; (email)
Membership of the Association is open to anyone having an interest in the pipe organ and organ music. We try to cater for all tastes, and have recently visited theatre organs as well as classical pipe organs, although it is fair to say that the emphasis is on the more traditional instruments.
To advance the education of, and appreciation in, the art and science of the organ and its music by the presentation of recitals, lectures, demonstrations and visits, and by such other means as the Society shall from time to time determine.
Please print out the membership application form which is in Word format - 21Kb -and send it to the secretary with your remittance. We are encouraging members to use standing orders as well as gift aid, so if you wish to help the association in this way please indicate on the application form.
Please return your completed application form to
The Hon. Sec., Mr M H Cooke, BA, ARCO, LGSM Honorary Secretary
24 Toronto Road
West Sussex GU28 0QX
enclosing a cheque for £12.00 single or £18.00 joint for the current year's membership. Please make this payable to The West Sussex Organists' Association.
There is a reduced subscription for students.
The long awaited restoration of the Hill organ has been undertaken by David Wells Organ Builders Ltd of Liverpool. The work focussed on overcoming the unreliable playing action, curing the unsteadiness and inadequacy of the winding system and rectifying some of the tonal excesses incorporated over recent years. A new electro-pneumatic action has been installed throughout the instrument whilst two new wind reservoirs give a better supply of wind. Tonally the organ has been restored to a scheme very close to the one that existed between 1873 & 1931. Stops have either been restored or replaced to meet this objective.
A magnificent new oak console has been provided which loosely reflects the Hill fashion of the late nineteenth century. The original stop knobs have been skilfully incorporated.
When looking up at the case, the viewer will not fail to notice the re-instated horizontal trumpet with eleven pipes projecting high over the centre of the case. This stop is a fascinating and remarkable historical element and provides a most useful additional tone colour to the organ. This is no 'fanfare' trumpet as one would find, say at Lancing College, but a louder and somewhat freer option to the other chorus reeds. When added to the other full choruses, the 'solo trumpet' blends in suitably well to give that little extra theatrical 'bite'.
The organ case has been repolished with the front pipes superbly restored by Jenny Duffy of Northants. The whole effect is of a glittering musical jewel placed under the dramatic west end rose window.
Following my recent 5 week stay in Germany I feel obliged to share a few thoughts with you all. I managed to drag my long suffering wife along to a few recitals that happened to be on in the area and we were both in for a surprise. Seeing a series of recitals on Tuesdays in Köln Cathedral we decided to arrive 15 minutes before the start time in order to secure a reasonable seat. To our amazement 15minutes before the start time 2000 hrs meant there was NO seat. Like many others arriving at this time we had to stand, lean on a pillar or sit on the floor. The cathedral was packed, some folk had even brought their own folding chairs. Needless to say the recital was exciting with both the 4 manual chancel organ and 3 manual nave division being used to great effect. (No trifling affair the nave organ but a substantial 3 manual organ gracefully hanging just below the roof some 80 feet above the nave floor. Seeing is believing in this case). On another occasion we turned up for a concert of organ, violin and two sopranos in a substantial church in a suburb of Solingen only to find we had to stand along with about 20 others!
We decided to arrive very early for all future recitals and this paid off. We always got a good seat. The concerts were mostly full to capacity. Concerts were almost always FREE with a collection taken at the end. We only had to buy an entrance ticket once, and that was for an organ and trumpet recital which was part of the Stuttgart festival. (A lunchtime event in a huge church˜absolutely packed out.) We turned up 30 minutes before the event and got a pair of the last tickets available. So why are the concerts so well attended? Or did we just attend those that happened to have a full house? All the playing was of a high standard and there were interesting programmes too although I must confess that the two Guillou pieces I heard left me baffled. They seem impenetrable to me. Most of the audience were in the same boat as no one could discern when the music had finished and therefore applause came after a substantial pregnant pause. Perhaps someone can direct my listening to this modern composer. The music seems to be a series of fast fragments (scraps) with no discernable theme or melody available.
The famous Klais organ at the Altenberg Dom was just 15 miles away from our first base in Germany. There are 3 concerts a week plus special events. This truly remarkable organ of 1980 is about to be dismantled and cleaned. The sound on a CD is very compelling but in the flesh it is quite something else. Altenberg is in the middle of nowhere but has a very lively musical and artistic life. Who know... it could be a base for a future overseas visit by WSOA!!
In 2006 the West Sussex Organists Association celebrated its 60th anniversary. The membership of the WSOA includes many organ enthusiasts as well as players, and many friendships are made as we all meet together socially during the course of the year to visit organs within the County and beyond, to play the instruments or to hear them played, and to learn more about the organ as an instrument and the repertoire of organ music. If you play the organ or enjoy listening to organ music, why not join us? We would be very pleased to hear from you.
Dr Alan Thurlow FRCO
Congratulations to our President, Dr Alan Thurlow, who has recently received a Doctorate from Lambeth Palace.
Composers' anniversaries in 2007
Composers' anniversaries in 2008
Composers' anniversaries in 2010
Modern editions of 18th Century English Voluntaries with accompanying table
More 18th Century English Organ Music
Perusing the shelves of a large bookseller recently, I came across a book entitled "Ancient Churches of Sussex" by Ken and Joyce Whiteman. It is a complete gazetteer of all parish churches in East and West Sussex built before 1800. The authors claim to have visited every one, and although the information on each is not extensive, it is a useful companion. I keep my copy in the car, and it has given me much pleasure. Published by S.B.Publications at £6.99, it could be a useful companion to the WSOA Millennium Survey of the Pipe Organs of West Sussex, of which there are still copies available for sale from the President.