Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

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


The Society's activities resume on Saturday 21st September, when John Bertalot will give an illustrated talk entitled "Five Words and the Princeton Syndrome". Dr. Bertalot is celebrated as a choir trainer, choral clinician and composer. After serving as Organist at St. Matthew's Northampton and Blackburn Cathedral, he spent 15 years at Trinity Church, Princeton, New Jersey. His writings on choir training are widely read and are invaluable to all church musicians, regardless of their ability or aspirations.

Before the meeting, at 12.30 for 1.00pm, we shall hold a USOC Lunch at McCausland's Hotel, Victoria Street, Belfast (opposite St. George's). The cost will be £13.00 for two courses and coffee (excluding drinks from the bar). To reserve places at the lunch, please return the enclosed form to the Secretary by Saturday 14th September. (I am going to Canada to give some recitals on Tuesday 17th, so please get the form in early! - Hon. Sec.).

The meeting itself will be in St. George's Parish Hall, High Street, at 3.00pm. John Bertalot will speak about practical choir-training and his own experiences with choirs. Your Secretary attended another of John's sessions earlier this year and learned a good deal as well as being vastly entertained. This is a unique example to hear one of the world's leading choral trainers explaining "how it's done". Whether you think your choir could give King's College, Cambridge a run for its money or you are looking for tips on how to get the basics right with a handful of singers, this will be an occasion to remember.

In October, we shall concentrate on choral music for choirs with depleted resources. There is lots of good stuff around if you know where to look! This will be a chance to hear some of it.

On November 23rd the Society, in collaboration with the City Council, will host the second Belfast Community Organ Day. Featuring guest celebrity David Briggs, the events will include a morning work-shop, open consoles throughout the City and an evening concert in the Ulster Hall.

Choir Training Day

The Connor & Down and Dromore Organ Scholarship Scheme will hold one of its Choir Training Days on Saturday 31st August at St. John's Parish Church, Whitehouse. Subjects covered will include how to take a choir practice and an examination of the remarkable Parish Choir Book compiled by Rosemary Field, Church Music Advisor for the Diocese of Portsmouth. This brings under one cover (and at a very cheap price) a wealth of music suitable for choirs of all sizes and abilities and includes settings of the Eucharist, chants, anthems and carols. It is a godsend to many choirs and is well worth consideration. The day will start with coffee at 10.00am and finish at about 2.30pm. There is no charge, but a collection will be taken to cover the cost of lunch. All are most welcome and participants asked to phone David Drinkell (9065 3591) if they would like to attend - so that some idea of numbers for lunch may be had! St. John's Church is approached from Belfast by taking the motorway towards Carrickfergus and turning sharp left at the first roundabout when the motorway ends. You pass a large RC church with a spire, then some traffic lights, and St. John's is a little further on.

Inauguration of new Phoenix Organ

Members who attended the meeting earlier this year at St. Molua's Church, Belfast, will have heard the large electronic organ built by our member Stephen Hamill. His company, Phoenix Organs has recently completed a new two-manual instrument for Dunboe Presbyterian Church, Co. Londonderry. It will be inaugurated on Friday 6th September at 7.30pm. Stephen will perform in his inimitable style, together with Alan Cheshire (horn) and Shane McVicker (piano). The church is at Articlave, on the road to Castlerock.

Tonic Music at Bangor

A preliminary notice that, on Saturday 26th October, 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. More details next month!

From the Treasurer

Alasdair writes: Please note that all USOC subscriptions fall due on 1st January each year. This year, at the beginning of August, 40 members had still not paid their subs for 2002. This puts a strain on our finances, so if you are one of those whose sub is outstanding, please help your Society by paying as soon as possible. I know that most late payers do not realise that they have forgotten to pay! The subscription remains unaltered at £17.50 (full-time students £10.00, overseas members £5.00). however, we have been asking members to consider rounding up this sum by £2.50 to £20.00. The extra will be added to the Travel Fund; this has now grown to around £7000. We want to get it up to £10000 so that the interest will provide enough for modest grants to young organists without expending capital. The other thing we want to suggest to members who find it difficult to remember to pay subs is to commence a standing order arrangement. If you would like to pursue this option, please contact the Treasurer for guidance. Thank-you for your help in ensuring our finances remain in a healthy state.

New Cathedral Organists

The Province receives two distinguished musicians who have taken over the reins at St. Columb's Cathedral, Londonderry and St. Patrick's CofI Cathedral, Armagh. Jonathan Lane, from Rugby, is now well into his stride at Derry, while Theo Saunders, from Leicester, will have arrived in Armagh by the time this bulletin reaches you. I am sure that all in the Society will wish them well and look forward to their contribution to music here in Northern Ireland.

Concerts at Christ Church, Londonderry

Billy West reports that concerts featuring the splendid new Wells-Kennedy three-manual organ at Christ church are proving a great success. Held on the first Thursday of each month from 1.10-1.50pm, admission is free, with a Retiring Collection. Donations so far have enabled an order to be placed for the prepared-for Cremona stop. Forthcoming recitals are as follows:

5th September: Darren Hagan (Premier Prix winner, RNCM)
Programme: Toccata (Guillou), Prelude & Fugue in D (Bach), Trois Pieces (Alain), Prelude & Danse Fuguée (Litaize)
7th November: Jonathan Lane and the Choristers of St. Columb's Cathedral
5th December: Instant Brass and William West

Celebrity Recital at Townsend Street

On Saturday 21st September at 7.30pm, Matthew Owens (Master of the Music, St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh) will give a recital on the magnificent Hunter organ at Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast, playing Bach, Handel, Vierne and Widor. Tickets are £5, including supper and there will be supervised car-parking. This is part of a new venture to promote the church and its organ (standing in an excellent acoustic, it is the finest Hunter I have ever encountered, which is saying a great deal). Members on the USOC visit to the Royal Northern College of Music a few years ago will recall Matthew's splendid playing there. This is a very worthwhile way to round off the Society's get together earlier in the day.

New Members

We welcome:
Gareth Lewis, BSc(Hons), ATCL, AmusTCL, DipABRSM. Gareth is a fourth-year medical student and plays the organ at the Crescent Church, Belfast. His address is ................. Belfast ........ (phone ............, e-mail .............).

Mrs Winifred Gillespie LTCL, living at ..........., Tandragee, Co. Armagh ...........

Membership List Corrections (in italic)

Miss R Adams BA ALCM MISOB .............. Kinallen, Dromore, Co Down ..................... SO

Mr A Orr BMus, ............., Belfast ........ 028 90....... NA

Mr ST Preston ............. Ballyclare Co. Antrim ........
028 93......... .......@......com
Knock Meth, B'fast NA

We congratulate our member, Donald Hamilton, on his appointment as Assistant Organist at St. George's Parish Church, Belfast.

Vacant Console

Because of Donald's translation, there is a vacancy (from October 1st) for an Organist and Choirmaster at St. Ignatius Church of Ireland, Carryduff. There are two main services on Sundays and a weekly practice for the four-part, RSCM affiliated robed choir. There is also a Junior Choir. Traditional music is used and services are main-stream, including Anglican chant and the singing of anthems. St. Ignatius is a modern church of striking design with excellent acoustics and has a large Allen electronic organ, recently refurbished and upgraded. The parish is anxious to maintain its musical tradition. Those interested should contact Mrs E. Dunning, 10 Old Saintfield Road, Carryduff, Co. Down (9081 3369).



Please reserve ____ places for lunch at £13.00 per place.

I enclose cheque (payable to USOC) for ________

_________________________________________________ (signature)

Please return to David Drinkell, 87 Orangefield Road, Belfast BT5 6DD by Saturday 14th September

Some Oddities

With a little space to fill, here are some of the Province's eccentricities in the way of organs (rather than organists!).

Annaghmore Parish Church, Co. Armagh A cruciform, aisle-less church, the organ is in the south-west corner, by the main entrance. It has a decent Gothick front, the case and outer towers being stencilled although the central flat of pipes is painted gold. This stencilling was possibly postdates the organ somewhat. The Great chorus is very striking, 8.4.2 producing a rich effect which almost suggests a mixture has been drawn. The mixture itself comes on with a terrific crash, partly due to the powerful tierce. In the Swell, the Dulciana and Principal make a restful pair and the Hautboy is pleasantly bucolic. The organ was first installed (in the 1870s?) in Dublin and was moved here in 1913 by Telford & Telford. The Abbey Organ Company restored it in 1981. It could do with action work, particularly the pedal coupler, where several pedal notes couple to the wrong manual key. The first chord of Mendelssohn's Wedding March over a pedal sounding G# is an arresting effect....
Great: Open Diapason 8, Flute 8, Gamba 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2, Mixture 17.19.22
Swell: Dulciana 8, Principal 4, Hautboy 8
Pedal: Bourdon 16
Swell to Great, Great to Pedal        3 composition pedals to Great        Compass: 54/27

Clandeboye Estate Chapel, Bangor, Co. Down Originally a barn, the interior is much like a tiny English village church, but containing artefacts and carvings from the Middle East. The chapel is served from Bangor Abbey. The organ (habitually referred to by Dean Hamilton Leckey as the Mighty Wurlitzer) bears the plate of Alfred Davies of Northampton and the date 1963, but is obviously much older, possibly by Bevington. It has a three-towered case, possibly old but much altered. All the manual stops except the Principal and Mixture terminate at tenor C and the mixture itself is only a fifteenth until tenor C when the twelfth comes in. In a rather rickety state, the organ nevertheless has a bold chorus, backed up by some nice flutes.
Manual: Open Diapason 8, Claribella 8 (Stop Diapason Bass 8), Dulciana 8, Principal 4, Flute 4, Mixture 12.15
Pedal: Bourdon 16
Pedal to Great (sic)         3 composition pedals          Compass: Manual GGG,AAA-f, Pedal CCC-C

Brackaville Parish Church, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone The organ is under the easternmost arch on the south side of the nave. The pleasant three-towered Gothick case with stencilled pipes is apparently by Conacher, although the organ is by Hill. Apart from this, it is odd in that the balanced swell pedal works in the reverse direction (i.e. heel down = open) and the top note of the coupled pedal board is an F#.
Op. Diapason 8, Stopped Diapason 8, Principal 4, Twelfth 2 2/3, Fifteenth 2
General Swell             Compass: 54/19

Carrowdore Parish Church, Co. Down The organ was built for a convent in the Irish Midlands in 1892 by Telford & Telford and installed here in 1963. Allegedly unplayable by 1998, I put the wind up the Rector by using it at a wedding rather than the adjacent Yamaha (you had to remember which combinations produced ciphers...). Wells-Kennedy restored it in 1999, reinstated a 2' stop ousted by a Dulciana, and put a roof on the swell-box. A very effective little job.
Choir: Gamba 8, Flute 4
Swell: Open Diapason 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2
Pedal: Bourdon 16
Swell to Choir, Choir to Pedal             Compass: 56/25

Return to Archive Page Return to Home Page