Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - November 2002


All members will receive a detailed colour programme for this prestigious event - this is just a taster!

Belfast City Council has enabled the participation of David Briggs, the free use of the Ulster Hall and a wide-ranging programme of publicity covering schools, churches and other organisations.

In the morning (10.00-12.30), at Knock Methodist Church, David Briggs will conduct a work-shop session. David's reputation as a sympathetic and inspired teacher is international. Players of all abilities will benefit from what promises to be a most enjoyable and instructive session.

Simon Williams, Education Officer of the Royal College of Organists, will be present to speak about the College's new Performer's Certificate.

In the afternoon (2.30-4.30), you can hear and play organs throughout the City in an Open Console Session. At each venue, there will be someone to demonstrate the organ and answer any questions.
The churches this time are:
Belmont Presbyterian (large late Conacher with possibly the earliest Positive Organ in Ireland)
Clonard Monastery (recent Kenneth Jones rebuild of large Evans & Barr)
St. Brigid's, Malone Road (modern Wells-Kennedy)
St. Martin's, Newtownards Road (1983 Wells-Kennedy, still an outstanding instrument)
St. John's, Malone (Philip Prosser's fine rebuild of the original Norman & Beard)
St. Paul's, York Road (Abbott & Smith, rebuilt by the Abbey Organ Co.)
St. Peter's, Antrim Road (exciting 70s rebuild by Hill, Norman & Beard, modified by Wells-Kennedy)
Sydenham Methodist (interesting amalgam by Wells-Kennedy of two previous instruments)
St. Mark's, Dundela (huge 4m Compton, known to the troops as "Gertie, a lady of ill-repute")
Fisherwick Presbyterian (particularly fine old Walker enhanced by Philip Prosser).

In the evening (7.45pm), David Briggs plays the Mulholland Grand Organ at the Ulster Hall. As a recitalist, he needs no introduction - members may recall his splendid recital at Bangor Parish Church some years ago. His specialities include the playing of transcriptions (at the Ulster Hall it will be the Flight of the Bumble Bee!) and he is one of world's leading extemporisers. The programme will include an extemporised Organ Symphony on themes submitted by local schools in a competition organised by the Society in conjunction with the Bank of Ireland, Belfast School of Music and Dr. Joe McKee.

This is not only a day full of delights for members of the Society but an important cultural event in the life of the Province. It is up to Society members to support it in every way possible. Please come to the various events - more importantly, bring along a friend, or friends, who may not normally think of attending events associated with the organ. Admission to David Briggs' recital is only £5!


Next year's "overseas tour" will be based on the beautiful City of St. Albans. The Cathedral has a world-famous Harrison organ and there is much else to see in the town, including an Organ Museum with resident Wurlitzer. Close by, instruments include the new Klais at Haileybury College, Father Willis at Hertford PC, Peter Collins at Berkhamsted, Grant, Degens & Bradbeer at Aldenham School, Hill, Norman & Beard at Luton PC and the famous Plough Inn at Great Munden, where the party can have lunch to the strains of a superb Compton theatre organ. A visit to North London is also on the cards, with visits to Harrow School (4m Harrison) and St. George's, Headstone (3m Rothwell, recently featured in Organists' Review).

In order to get the best deal, it is necessary to book flights early. Therefore, the Treasurer needs a deposit of £100 from each participating member by December 1st. The total cost will be in the region of £200-250, including hotel, transport and meals.

Tonic Music at Bangor
On Saturday 26th October at 8.00pm, ex-Oxford organ scholar Richard Hills will be playing the Compton Theatre Organ, formerly in the Tonic Cinema, Bangor, and now in Bangor Academy. The programme will include the accompaniment of a silent film. Admission at the door is £5.

Concerts at Christ Church, Londonderry
Featuring the splendid new Wells-Kennedy three-manual organ, held on the first Thursday of each month from 1.10-1.50pm, admission is free, with a Retiring Collection.
7th November: Jonathan Lane and the Choristers of St. Columb's Cathedral
5th December: Instant Brass and William West

Church Music Study Session
On Saturday 9th November, your Secretary will conduct a session for members of the Connor/Down & Dromore Organ Scholarship Scheme. Non-members of the scheme are very welcome. A number of topics will be covered, including music for Christmas. The venue is St. Thomas' Church, Lisburn Road, Belfast, from 10.30am-2.30pm. There is no charge for attendance, and lunch will be provided!

Music on an Autumn Evening - Friday 22nd November at 8.00pm
Ballyblack Presbyterian Church, Co. Down
The resonant acoustics of this church make the Johannus Organ sound rather effective. David Drinkell plays and the Ballyblack Women's Institute Choir sings. Subscription of £5 includes supper. To get there, take the Portaferry Road out of Newtownards, turn left at the Millisle Road and right at the T junction with the Ballyblack Road. The church is sign-posted on the right after about half a mile.

We welcome the following new members:

Theo Saunders FRCO(CHM) .... ARMAGH ...Tel ... St. Patrick's CofI Cathedral, Armagh

Colin Scott GRAM,FRAM ... BELFAST ... Tel ... Ravenhill Presbyterian Church

Mrs Iris Boland ... PORTADOWN ... Tel ...

Vacant Consoles
St. Clement's Church, East Belfast
Two Sunday services, weekly choir practice ("enthusiastic choir"). 2-manual Abbott & Smith organ. The church would also consider someone who would undertake morning service and choir practice only. www.stclementsbelfast.com/organist.htm

St. Luke's and St. Stephen's, Belfast
3 services each Sunday - 10.30am St. Luke's, 11.30am St. Stephen's, Evensong 6.30 alternating between the 2. St. Luke's has a decent 2-manual Smethurst. St. Stephen's has an Allen. Salary £4500pa. At present there are no choir practices except for Harvest and Christmas (the Hon. Sec. has been helping out in the evenings and can testify that the singing is very good and the atmosphere very friendly). Meanwhile, these parishes would welcome assistance from organists who can manage occasional services. Contact the Revd. David Lockhart, 028 9077 4119.

St. Thomas' Parish Church, Eglantine Avenue/Lisburn Road, Belfast
Applications are invited for the post of Organist/Director of Music. BCP and APB sung services. Good musical tradition and opportunities for development. The Church is a fine High Victorian Gothic building with an outstanding 3-manual Hill Organ fully restored in 1998. Salary negotiable according to qualifications and experience. Further details from Canon Walter Lewis, St. Thomas' Rectory, 1A Eglantine Avenue, Belfast BT9 6DW. Telephone 028 9080 8343. E-mail walter.lewis@ntlworld.com

St. Ignatius Church of Ireland, Carryduff
Two services on Sundays and a weekly practice (RSCM-affiliated robed choir). The church is of striking design with excellent acoustics and has a large refurbished and upgraded Allen organ. The parish is anxious to maintain its musical tradition, including Anglican chant and anthems. Contact Mrs E. Dunning, 10 Old Saintfield Road, Carryduff, Co. Down (9081 3369).

FOR SALE - The large 3-manual Domus Viscount, model no.1332, purchased in 1996 and owned by our member Ian Keatley. Suitable for home or larger venue. Price £6500 o.n.o. Phone James Keatley on 028 9028 0775, e-mail j.keatley@which.net or write to 26 Sharman Park, Belfast BT9 5HU. Mr Keatley has kindly offered the Society a small commission if the sale is made as a result of our help.

Eccentricities: Spel it rite!

A minor oddity one encounters is misspelling on stop labels. Standardised spelling being a relatively recent idea, the 1766 Byfield organ now at Finchcocks in Kent has: Open Diaphason, Stop Diaphason, Principal, Flute, Twelfth, Fifteenth. The priceless Riepp organs at Ottobeuren in Swabia are quite unique in their nomenclature. I particularly like Vox Ho (Vox Humana).

More recently, the odd blip may escape the eye of our most respectable builders. When Henry Willis III incorporated an 18th century Dutch organ and case into his 4m at Eton College, the Dutch Holpijp appeared on the knob as the more canine Hohlpup. And there's a Cramona at Hillsborough Parish Church! And a 4' Octave ,engraved 8' on the Pedal at Ballymoney PC. Stopped harmonic pipes, which cause mental melt-down when calculating lengths, are often called Zauberflöte. However, Sauberflöte is not unknown and this has been confused with the open wood Suabe Flute so that you occasionally see Saube Flute.

One of the more eccentric organs around Belfast is at St. John's, Whitehouse, built by Forster & Andrews (1877) and enlarged by Norman & Beard (1912). The Irish Organ Company rebuilt it with a new console in 1960, and there has been further work by SJ Pipe Organs and others.

Great: Open Diapason No.1, Open Diapason No.2, Hohl Flute 8, Principal 4, Flauto Traverso 4 (actually transposed to 2)
Swell: Open Diapason 8, Leiblich Gedact 8, Echo Gamba 8, Voix Celeste 8, Gemshorn 4, Mixture 12.15.17, Cornopeon 8, Oboe 8 (actually Clarion 4)
Choir (enc.): Rohr Flute 8, Viole d'Orchestra 8, Flute d'Armour 8, Leiblich Flute 4, Clarinet 8
Pedal: Open Diapason 16, Sub Bass 16, Bourdon 16, Bass Flute 8, Oboe 8
Swell Tremulant, Choir Tremulant (actually, there is only one Tremulant, but two knobs)
Full complement of octave and unison couplers

The Pedal Bourdon appears to have its own pipes only in the lowest octave and a half, sharing with the Sub Bass above that. The Pedal Oboe presumably uses pipes displaced by the Clarion, but runs into the Bass Flute for the top octave. This stop and the duplicated Swell to Great have stop knobs of a different style to the rest, which project further when on than the others do when off. The two Swell to Great drawstops are not linked, so the coupler is on when either of them are out. Despite the oddities and being in a generally rickety state, the organ actually sounds rather impressive in its own way and some of the softer stops are particularly pleasant.

One of the oddest organs I know is to be found at Drinkstone in Suffolk:

Great: Open Diapason 8, Claribel (mid C) 8, Stopt Diapason 8, Dulciana 8, (Stopt Base 8), Principal 4 (labelled 8), Flute (tenor d#), Fiftienth 2, Mixture 17.19.22
Swell: Open Diapason 8, Liblick Gedact 8, Gamba 8, Principal 4 (labelled 8)
Pedal: Bourdon 16
Swell to Great, Great to Pedal

The Swell Open and Gamba are grooved to the Gedact below tenor f#, but all Swell stops terminate at tenor C, below which the Great is coupled to the Swell. Not surprisingly, there is no maker's plate, but John Budgen of Bishop & Son writes that the organ was "compiled" by Gildersleeve of Bury St. Edmunds, said to be ex-Thurston (where a Willis was installed in 1901), and that the main chorus bears a very strong resemblance to the Thamar work at Framlingham. So, despite its eccentricities, this could be an instrument of great historical importance. And it does sound rather good!

Return to Archive Page Return to Home Page