Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - April 2003

Our next member meeting -----
is arranged for 21st June 2003, at 3.00 pm when we plan to visit two interesting organs in the Dromore Area (Co Down). The venues include the Cathedral Church of Christ the Redeemer, Dromore and the First Presbyterian Church, Dromore. The first venue is Ist Dromore Presbyterian Church which has a 2manual Evans & Barr 1936 organ recently rebuilt and revoiced by Wells-Kennedy. To get there, go to the mini roundabout at the Cathedral -very near the town square. Take the road sign-posted Banbridge/Newry, and then immediately left at the Police Station into Meeting Street (where you see a sign Iveagh Terrace); continue straight on up the hill and out of the town half a mile. The Church is the prominent grey stone building on the left. Turn into the ample car park at the Church Hall (red brick) before the Church.
We expect to reach the Cathedral around 4.00pm. It contains a 2manual Conacher tracker action 1871 organ, overhauled by Abbey Organs in 1982. There is an excellent car park at the Cathedral Hall. Instructions available as we leave our first venue.
Please come and join this interesting safari which is 15 miles down the M1 motorway from Belfast, or fairly central for other setting off points. There will, as ever, be opportunities to play for those who wish to try their party piece on an unfamiliar organ.

And our last meeting ----
which was our annual 'overseas tour'. This year, the trip was to St Albans in Hertfordshire and District. Many of the 25 members of the party were not familiar with the area, and were pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the countryside, the villages and the market towns. It seems that the tour was up to the usual standards in relation to the venues visited, the interest of the organs and their various 'homes', and above all by the welcomes and hospitality of our hosts. Some thought that the highlights were the sights, sounds and playing in the Chapel of Haileybury School, while others won't forget St Saviour's in St Albans with its parish organ and the Festival organ. But then, there was something for everyone.
No arrangements have yet been made for next year, but if you want a fascinating, social and organistic weekend that shouldn't be too expensive, pencil in your diary next May Day Weekend 2004 - and find a deputy quick!!

The Dunleath Organ Scholarship Trust ---
is accepting applications for the 2003 Award - worth up to 750. The Trust was established in memory of Lord Dunleath and is made available by competition to suitably qualified candidates who will normally be under 25 years of age. The purpose of the Award is to assist a young organist to attend one of the great international summer academies (eg Oundle, Haarlem), or some similar enterprise aimed at supporting their organ studies.
Details from Dr Desmond Hunter, Dept of Music, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, BT37 0QB. Fax 028 9061 2224 email d.hunter1@ulst.ac.uk
---- but be quick - closing date is 31 May 2003.

Some upcoming Concerts ---
in St George's PC
, High St Belfast:
Saturday 31 May 2003 at 7.30pm
Choir of St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, directed by Peter Barley, with David Leigh(organ); with music by Stanford, Britten, Faure, Gibbons etc

Tuesday 24 June 2003 at 7.45pm
Chapel Choir and Girls Choir of Methodist College, Belfast (Sainsbury Choir of the Year UK), directed by Ruth McCartney, with Daniel Hyde (organ) King's College, Cambridge; with music by Bach, Mendlesohn, Parry etc

Serenade for a Summer Evening --- in St John's Church of Ireland Church, Castlereagh Road, Belfast:
Friday 13th June 2003 at 7.30pm
The Grosvenor Chorale, conducted by Edward Craig, will sing music by Stanford, Chilcott, Durufle, Rutter etc. More information about the Chorale on www.grosvenorchorale.com
Please support these super concerts into which the organisers have put so much energy, planning and enterprise.

Vacant Consoles ----
There are still vacant consoles around:

BELMONT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - is seeking an Organist and Director of Music. There is a mixed choir well represented in all departments. There are morning and evening services each Sunday, and the person appointed will be expected to develop and encourage the general musical life of the Church. There is a fine 3 manual Conacher Organ in the Church. Your details (quickly please as the closing date is 31 May 2003!!) to Mrs V Calvert, 31 My Lady's Mile, Holywood , Co Down BT18 9EN.

DROMORE CATHEDRAL - is seeking an Organist. There is a robed choir with representation in all singing departments. Two services each Sunday, weekly choir practices, and occasional Diocesan events. Flourishing congregation. The organ is a fine reliable old 2 manual Conacher of 1871 , with tracker action.
Please contact the Dean, the Very Rev Stephen Lowry, tel 028 9269 2275, or email dean@dromore.anglican.org

Console Swap -
is not a new form of immorality!!
The Society has been contacted by a Mr Geoffrey Rugg of Boulder , Colorado in the USA. He has been reading about the problems facing so many organists who, having no ready deputy, become trapped at their consoles. His mother, Eleanor, has retired recently as a qualified organist and would love to fill in for someone in the UK over a holiday period. A USA console can apparently be arranged in return. If you are interested in this initiative, do contact Geoff direct at email equusgroup@boulder.net

Bereavement --
it is with great regret that we have to report the recent death of long time USOC member Andrew Forbes. In recent years, Andrew's health had not been as he would have wished, and yet he still managed to attend many of the meetings organised by the Society. He was a dedicated musician both as a player and as a conductor of choirs and bands. We sympathise with his family in their loss, and would wish to record that the Society will miss him, not least at regular USOC events.

Information, New Members, Ideas -
it would be much appreciated if any information likely to be of interest to the members of the Society, such as upcoming concerts, vacant consoles, events of relevance to church musicians, and other information of interest could be passed to the Secretary. We cannot undertake to publish all such information but would endeavour to note as much as space will allow.
Also, if you know of church musicians who are not members of USOC - an easy way to find out if they are or not is to ask them! - - please let the Secretary have their names and we will seek to interest them in membership.
Finally, if anyone has ideas about matters, items etc for the Bulletin, likely to be of interest to members, please let the Secretary know.

For the Committee - REMINDER
a reminder to you that the next Committee meeting is scheduled to take place on 31 May 2003 at 3.00 pm at 74 Osborne Park, off Malone Road,Belfast.

May 2003


And where did our USOC trippers end up?? -

Having travelled via Easyjet to Luton on Saturday 3rd May 2003, the visit began at:

St Mary's PC, Luton
Here they were able to hear and play a grand 3m Hill Norman & Beard 1970 organ complete with a horizontal trumpet. And next to

All Saints, Hertford
This visit included a public recital on a 3m Father Willis of 1887. The instrument had been rebuilt by Cedric Arnold in 1971, and again by the Village Workshop in 2001. this organ was equipped with a Fanfare trumpet and a 32' reed. After lunch, the party was bussed to

Haileybury College Chapel
They were met by a highly enthusiastic and expert Director of Music, who played the wonderful new Klais 2m organ of 1998. For several this was the highlight of the day and for at least one was the highlight of the tour.

St John the Baptist, Epping
rounded off the day in style hearing and playing a grand old Wordsworth 4m organ of 1892. This organ has a particularly fine case.

Sunday 4th May began with choral matins in:
St Peter's PC, St Albans
The organ here was built by Bishop in 1872. It is a three manual contained within a Schrider case. One or two of the party decided on the Methodist Church where they became involved in a Baptism. Based on comments from others who missed the Baptism, they were spared a controversial sermon, whatever that might mean!! Well, as this writer, who wasn't even there, you simply cannot please everyone all the time - even though you try very hard!!

St Alban's Organ Museum
Provided the fun and games after lunch. The President had organised a visiting cinema organist to play the 3m Wurlitzer in the Museum for the party. Also included was a 3m Rutt organ. Great fun for all, and this should reassure any member that USOC is not obsessed solely by pipe organs in Churches.

St Alban's Cathedral (and yes it has been a cathedral for a very long time)
Was the venue for Choral Evensong. Unfortunately, the resident choir was on holiday, although the visiting choir was excellent. A word from the Acting Secretary to Andrew Lucas, the Director of Music in the Cathedral, who was not present, ensured that the organ scholar gave playing access to members of the Society. This is not always possible - very understandably -- in the great English Cathedrals, so a great thrill was afforded those with the brass neck to play their party piece!

Monday 5th May 2003 was the final day of the visit; would it be an anti- climax? Definitely not!
St Saviour's PC, St Albans
Provided the first venue of the day. This Church is unusual in that it houses two substantial organs with two different owners? A paradox? -- not really. The Parish has its own 3m Willis organ of 1952, rebuilt in 1988. But also in the Church is the St Alban's Festival's own organ; this is a fine Peter Collins instrument built in 1989 -- an embarrassment of riches indeed. Next the party headed for the beautiful village of Turvey.

Turvey PC
has a wonderful old Hill 4m organ dated 1855. Although this instrument has been cleaned and renovated, it is understood to be fundamentally the instrument the William Hill installed nearly 150 years ago. The party had complete access here to play as much as they liked! Lunch was enjoyed in Woburn, after which the party made its way to

Woburn PC,
with its wonderful old 3m Norman and Beard organ dated 1904. The visit rounded off with a visit to two quite different organs of a much more recent date.

All Saint's PC, Leighton Buzzard
Has a grand 3m Harrison and Harrison organ dated 1989, while

Berkhamstead PC
Has a 2m Peter Collins organ, dated 1986.

That concluded the 2003 tour. As can be seen, the Party was exposed to a variety of organs, venues and people whom they might not otherwise easily encounter. The real essence of these visits constitute a learning experience, which for busy Church organists, is usually not possible, as most of us are tied to our organ benches Sunday by Sunday. For those who have not ventured forth on one of these tours , do consider going next year. You will be well rewarded!! Incidentally, the weather seems to have a habit of being good, just as an added bonus.

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