Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - February 2005

John Frost OBE 1917 – 2005
‘A mighty oak has fallen’
John Frost OBE, former USOC President, and a long serving Honorary Organist in Holywood Methodist Church (45 years) has died. John was an avid attender at most of our events, and in this way, if not in so many other ways, members would have known his lovely smile, his humour and above all his ability to befriend. Those engaging him in conversation quickly recognised his intellect, his imagination and his sparkle in life; these qualities go a long way to explain why he made such an impact on generations of young people in his beloved ‘Sullivan’, the School of which he was the Head from 1955 – 1980. These were the qualities which applied everywhere in his life and which earned him an honorary degree and the OBE. For his wife Mabel and his family, including his grandchildren, on all of whom he bestowed his joy in music, an unfillable gap has arisen, and we sympathise with them all. But at another level, there are many others, including USOC members, who will miss him too. John, as had been his habit since his close brush with immortality two or three years ago, had been putting his time to good use attending family, cultural and musical events. Indeed he was present at USOC AGM on 8th January, and participated in the discussion. On that occasion, the President presented him with a huge bouquet to take home to Mabel in celebration of their Diamond Wedding – 60 years of married life together – what an incredible achievement. John told us recently that he was waiting in the departure lounge; now his flight has gone.

USOC February Event
We promised members that their opinions as elicited in the YOUR VIEWS exercise last year would not be ignored. Accordingly, the next USOC event is designed to begin the process of further trying to meet those needs. Please note that as John Lill OBE is performing in Belfast that evening, our original plan to have the meeting after dark has had to be abandoned. Accordingly, the event will take place at 3.00pm in St Ingatius’ Parish Church, Carryduff on Saturday 19th February 2005. There will be an opportunity to discuss what you want from our Society. This will be followed by refreshments and a video prepared by our member Christine Irvine featuring some of the overseas trips we have taken over recent years. We hope that all members will consider attending, and that those with strongly held views will use this opportunity to influence the Society for the benefit of all. The Committee has requested that members would now consider the questions we shall be discussing. If you cannot be present, give a Committee member a call and tell him/her your views, so that no pearl is lost. Accordingly, the questions we shall be considering are as follows:

You will find the Church on the Saintfield/Downpatrick Road out of Carryduff, on the left, just after the set of traffic lights. Turn left at these lights and enter the Church grounds immediately on the left. It is a modern looking building painted white.

What else is On? – first, USOC events. Members will recollect that at the time of the AGM we published a provisional list of events for 2005. The following events are now confirmed, as of present information.
March – On March 19th at 3.00pm, USOC members will enjoy learning how to get the best out of an ‘ordinary choir’. This is essentially a workshop, and members of the Choirs of St Peter’s PC, St Paul’s PC, and Bangor Methodist Church have been invited to sing under the direction of our member Edward Craig. This should be appealing and helpful to those of our members who spend mid-week nights training choirs in churches up and down the country. This is in response to all those members who, in YOUR VIEWS, wanted help with the week in week out challenges of being a church organist. This takes place in St John’s PC, Orangefield on Castlereagh Road, Belfast 5. You will find the Church on the right hand side, heading towards the country, near the top of the Castlereagh Road – if you see a Lidl store on your rhs, you have gone too far! There is plenty of parking in the Church grounds.
April – A visit was promised to the Ballymena Area in April. Accordingly, on 9th April 2005, members are invited to assemble at Ahoghill Parish Church at 11.30am. The theme of the event is Organ Music for Manuals Only, and for other instruments. We are also focussing on young players. At Ahoghill, we will hear music by Tallis & Stanley and we will hear the organ with the ‘cello. Thence we head to the Tullyglass Hotel, where lunch will be available in the Carvery at £11 per person. In the afternoon, we head for Ballymena Parish Church, where we hear music for trumpet/horn and organ, and, we hope, a Handel Organ Concerto with string players from the Belfast School of Music. This event is a major undertaking and will involve a lot of work and preparation for the many players, hosts and organisers, so please make an extra effort to come.
May -- The visit to Winchester, Chichester and Salisbury areas is now finalised, and all the places have been taken up. The dates are 30th April to 2nd May 2005. Further details of all USOC events will be published in future Bulletins.

New Members – Welcome! -- We are delighted to welcome new members as follows:
David McConnell, Dublin 6, Ireland, 01 _______, email: _________
David K Morris BSc Ag Eng__________, Broughshane, Ballymena. BT42 ___, 028 __________, email: __________
Eamonn McCrossan HNC __________, STRABANE Co Tyrone, BT82 ___, 028 _________, email: ___________
David McConnell is the Treasurer of the Dublin and Glendalough Church Music Committee. He has the unusual distinction of being the Organist in two Christian Churches just a few yards from each other, the one in the Anglican, and the other in the Roman Catholic tradition. He has written very interestingly about his experience in the Bulletin of the National Secretariat, Irish Episcopal Commission for Liturgy.
We welcome most warmly Eamonn and the two Davids to the Society.

Fee Scales – Members will recollect that the Bulletin published in March 2004 listed fees recommended for Church Musicians ‘in another European Jurisdiction’. I have been roundly ticked off (yes, it happens to Secretaries too!) by new member David McConnell. Members will have recognised perhaps that ‘another European jurisdiction’ referred to Ireland! And, not only that, but the said fees list was published by the Dublin and Glendalough Music Committee. David tells me that the Committee, which does a great deal for its organists, is delighted for us to publish and acknowledge the source of this material, and we now gladly do so. And there is another reason to do so, because their recommended rates have also been adopted by the Roman Catholics in the area. We thank you David, and your colleagues, for so magnanimously making the structure available for us in USOC. Surely, this is a topic for discussion on 19th February.
PS If you cannot find your March 2004 Bulletin, and want a copy of the fee structure, please let the Secretary know.

Some changes in Members’ details -- USOC publishes its new member list each Summer. The following details should be added straight away to your own 2004 list to keep it up to date. Please add our new members listed above, and the following changes:
Neale Agnew – has moved from Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church, to join the illustrious succession of organists at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Neale, we wish you well in your new appointment, as you succeed Derek Collins.
Charles Harrison – who is Assistant Director of Music at Lincoln Minster lives at _________, Lincoln, LN2 ___.
Ian Keatley is BMus(Hons) ARCO, and his address is now __________, Southwark, London SE1 ___. Also, his correct email address is: ___________ Ian is Organ Scholar at the Abbey, and gave the Sunday afternoon recital there on the first Sunday in February. He also directs the Merbecke Choir at Southwark.

Missa Brevis – by Nicholas Wilton – The music of Nicholas Wilton has been mentioned before in these pages. He has sent me a copy of his Missa Brevis for SATB and unaccompanied. Finding singable variety in such material is not always easy. You can obtain details from Nicholas at 85 Moffat Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8PY. Further details at www.catholicmusic.co.uk, or telephone 020 8239 9183.

Another great CD -- From Advent to Trinity – Our member Stephen Timpany has produced a fine CD of Favourite Hymns and Psalms, sung by his Choir, Banbridge Holy Trinity Church. This has 20 tracks most of which are Psalms. The chosen venue was Armagh Cathedral and the Choir is directed by Stephen, with accompaniment by Cathedral Organist Theodore Saunders FRCO, also a USOC member. This is a fine recording and should be amongst your collection. It is invaluable as a lesson in how to chant the Psalms in a rhythmical and meaningful way – there is none of that ‘square’ singing so common in some churches, and nor is there a pretensiousness or preciousness about the singing. And a great bonus – the Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer(old edition)! Hooray! Organ Buffs, like this reviewer, will love the full blooded accompaniment by Theo Saunders on the big Walker/Wells Kennedy instrument in the opening and closing verses of the Hymns; while the unaccompanied verses are simply beautiful, with every word discernible. The cost of the CD is a give–away at £10, and it is available from Stephen Timpany at the Parish Office at the Church, or ‘phone 028 4062 2744, mornings only. The proceeds are towards the restoration of the 3 manual Conacher in Holy Trinity Church, so do consider helping restore another fine old organ in the Province.
The last Bulletin referred to the CD by Ecclesium, which is a Choir set up by Philip Stopford to sing and record his own music. This is a CD of the highest standard, so do consider buying a copy. You will have enormous pleasure, but more than that, you will be impressed by the extremely high standard of the work, both as a composer and as a Choir Director, of one of our foremost Cathedral organists. Available, priced £11, from Philip at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

Other events for your diary – This list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t seek to be so. It is only so good as the information with which the Bulletin has been given. So if you have an event you want included, please let the Secretary know as early as you can.
11th February 2005 – in the Mulholland Grand Organ series, there is a concert at 7.45pm entitled ‘18th Century Delights’, when our member Colm Carey (Belfast City Organist) is in concert with the Ulster Orchestra and Methodist College Chapel Choir (winners Sainsbury Choir of the Year) under the baton of Lawrence Cummings. Solo organ works feature, as well as concertos by Handel and Wesley. There is also a pre-concert discussion with Colm at 7.00pm.
2nd April 2005 – also in the Mulholland Grand Organ series, Dame Gillian Weir performs works by Scarlatti, Mozart, Franck, Liszt and Lanquetit. At a pre-concert event, there will be a performance by school children, pupils and members of staff of the Belfast School of Music. This will mark the culmination of the major Educational Project led by composer Duncan Chapman with Colm Carey. Please, come along and support the next generation of organ enthusiasts!
Footnote to this series is a quote from Ludwig van Beethoven ‘ I, too, played the organ frequently in my youth, but my nerves could not withstand the power of this gigantic instrument. I should place an organist who is master of his instrument at the very head of all virtuosi.’ As an ordinary struggling organist, not always in control of either my playing or the instrument itself, I think I know what he means!
7th May 2005 – Gledhill is back! Yes, this is another opportunity to hear Simon Gledhill at the Compton of the old Tonic Cinema, in Bangor. This now resides in Bangor Academy – although probably not for very much longer. Those who have been before need no prompting, but if you haven’t been, do go – it is a marvellous evening’s entertainment. Proceedings begin at 8.00pm.

The USOC AGM was in January, and on that occasion your new Committee and Office Bearers for 2005 were elected. This year, there were more candidates than places for the Committee which was very encouraging. Accordingly, we now have a full Committee. Congratulations to those who were successful, and commiserations to those who were not elected this time – please don’t be discouraged, you are needed at the core of our Society.

President: 	           Michael Tregenna
Vice Presidents:	   Rodney Bambrick	
                           James Little
Honorary Secretary:	   Alasdair MacLaughlin
Honorary Treasurer:	   Philip Walden	
Committee:	           William Adair	  Barbara Callender
	                   Michael Callender      David McElderry
                           Gareth Johnston	  Eileen Kerr
                           Stephen Hamill	  Ivan Millen
                           Philip Stopford	  David Rutherford
Honorary Auditor:	   John Wright
USOC Webmaster:	           Alistair McCartney
You have elected these persons to look after your interests. Please make use of their willingness to serve by coming up with your ideas and suggestions, and by maintaining contact with them. You will only obtain value for your subscription if the Committee and Office Bearers know what you want from the Society, so please do keep in contact.

A footnote – recently, the RC Cathedral in Armagh has been re-ordered: its magnificence is stunning and well worth a visit. Now, St Peter’s RC Cathedral in Belfast, has just completed a £6 mn restoration and re-order. This includes the rebuilding of the organ by Kenneth Jones. This is yet another superb venue for our meetings in the future. And in the past few days, the organ of St Nicholas’ PC on the Lisburn Road, Belfast, a fine old Hill, has been restored by Stephen Adams, of Dublin. There’s hope for organists indeed!

USOC thanks all our members for your continuing support.

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