Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - March 2006


Members’ Recital, Saturday 1st April, 3pm, St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast

This year’s Members’ Recital will take place in the newly opened St Peter’s Cathedral, following extensive restoration of the organ by Kenneth Jones Organ in 2005. We are delighted to welcome not only three marvelous organists, but the Senior Choir of the Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry, and their Head of Music and Musical Director, Dr Damian Frame. Our three organists are Liam Crangle, a chorister at Armagh Church of Ireland Cathedral and a student of Professor Gerard Gillen, Adam Walker, Organ Scholar at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church and a student of Neale Agnew, and the Belfast City Organist, Colm Carey.

St Peter’s Cathedral have added what can only be described as a truly remarkable instrument to the Belfast organ scene, and this instrument can be heard (and felt!) through a vast array of colours and textures – worth seeing and hearing! Only completed in the last six months, be amongst the first to hear this exciting new sound!

St Peter’s Cathedral is the twin-spired building that can be seen from the Westlink. Turn off the Westlink at Divis Street (heading north), take the third left into Albert Street, and turn left into St Peter’s Close. Secure Parking is available to the left hand side of the Cathedral, through the gates: please use it.

As usual, we look forward to welcome all members and those interested in joining the society. Be assured, this is not an April Fool, it being the 1st !!

Barry Rose Success!

Following a marvellous afternoon at Jordanstown, the Society has benefited from a number of new members. We welcome them to the Society, and look forward to getting to know them at future meetings. I was made aware of one person who had been an organist for 40 years (goodness me!) and had never heard of USOC. Please do promote the Society and encourage people to join up!

City Organist brings budding young organists to the Ulster Hall!

Colm Carey organized an event in the Ulster Hall on 3 March. There were over 1000 children from Belfast Primary Schools at ‘Music School Around the Corner’ hosted by Frank Mitchell of UTV. Robert Quinney, sub-organist of Westminster Abbey was the soloist in the main item ‘Mr Majeeka and the Magic Organ’ by Bob Chilcott. The narrator was Andrew MacIntosh of the Royal College of Organists, co-sponsors with Belfast City Council.

RSCM Festival – Saturday 25th March 2006, afternoon rehearsal from 2 pm, Festival Service at 5 pm in Belfast Cathedral.

A Festival Service has been organised, to take place in Belfast Cathedral on Saturday 25th March 2006. As with Festivals of years ago, this is an opportunity for all church choirs to come and sing together, and raise the roof. This is the re-launch of the RSCM in Ireland, and the exact same event will be taking place at the same time at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. A Festival Booklet had been produced, and is available for purchase at £3.50 each on the day. All copyright has been passed, and the booklets can be kept and used after the event in your own churches. Leading Choirs who will be taking part are; Belfast Cathedral and Cathedral Youth Choirs, Armagh C of I Cathedral Choir, St Columb’s Cathedral Choir, Derry, Down Cathedral Choir and St George’s Parish Church Choir. What a wonderful line up – let’s get as many other choirs to join us! If you have not received a booklet already, just come on the day at 2 pm and join in the spirit of the occasion.

Vacant Consoles (continuing the rather too popular series!)

Leckpatrick Parish - Derry Diocese

An organist is required for this Parish, please contact Rev Garth Bunting, the Rector of the church by telephone (028) 7188 3545 or email bunting@leckpatrick.freeserve.co.uk

Concerts and Recitals

Mark Ireland is giving concerts of popular music on the organ at Ballymena Methodist Church, Ballymony Street on Friday the 21st of April at 7.30, and at McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church, Castlereagh Road, Belfast, on Saturday the 22nd April at 7.30. The programmes will include a selection of marches, songs from the shows, organ and popular classics and sacred music. For more information contact David Morris (028) 2586 2778.

Belfast Cathedral Choirs launch their latest CD, Celtic Inspirations, on the evening of Tuesday 28th March at 7.30pm. The Cathedral Choir and Youth Choir will perform selected tracks in the presence of a VIP and invited guests. For security reasons, an application for invitation can be made via email to assist@belfastcathedral.org, and an invitation will be set to you. Please include your name and address on the email or telephone (028) 9032 8332. The CD features premiere recordings of Stanford, James Moore, and Philip Stopford, and you would be very welcome to attend this free event, but come armed with £10 for your CD!

Down Cathedral Choir and Cadenza will perform Stainer’s Crucifixion on Sunday 9th April at 3.30pm. Soloists Mark Maguire (Tenor) and Michael Brown (Bass) and Choir will be accompanied by Richard Campbell (Organ) and directed by Michael McCracken. Admission at the door, £5

European Brass Band Championships, 22-30 April: Ulster Hall and Waterfront Hall. Details from Waterfront Hall (028) 9033 4455.

Belfast Cathedral Youth Choir will perform a concert of music in Armagh Church of Ireland Cathedral on Thursday 6th April at 7.45pm. The concert will include a performance of Creation by Philip Stopford and music from their latest CD, Celtic Inspirations. Tickets, just £5.

For sale

Nichol's music department, Ballymena have a Content EXP-220. classical organ expander they are offering at a discounted price. The unit has 10 swell, 10 great, 5 pedal stops, 7 general presets and variable reverb. Nicholls phone number is (028) 2564 9616.

Other news

David Morris has kindly offered to organise a visit to the Cinema organ at Newtownards on Saturday 22nd April. The instrument will be demonstrated by Mark Ireland who will be over from England. If you would be interested in going, please make contact with David, morris@rathkeel.freeserve.co.uk or tel (028) 2586 2778

Organ Scholarships

Church of Ireland, Dioceses of Down and Dromore and Connor. Tenable for three years. Tuition, free of charge, from the organists appointed under the Diocesan Scheme. The scholarship scheme is intended to foster the skills of church musicians. Elements of choir training are included in the course. No previous experience of playing the organ is necessary, but candidates should have a basic proficiency on the keyboard. There are no upper or lower age limits. More information available from Diocesan Office, Church of Ireland House, 61-67 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2QH, tel (028) 9032 2268. Be quick, this year’s applications need to be in by Thursday 16th March 2006.

CD Reviews

Hyperion Records have had a great couple of months, releasing wonderful CDs by Westminster Abbey Choir (including former Belfast Cathedral Chorister, David Martin) and Polyphony. Westminster Abbey have recorded The Great Service by William Byrd in its entirety, and Music for Trinity Sunday including Howells’ Evening Canticles for the Abbey, and Stainer’s I saw the Lord. Robert Quinney, the Abbey’s Assistant plays Stanford’s Fantasia and Toccata in D minor, op.57: what a piece! Polyphony, under the direction of Stephen Layton has recorded the works of two American composers, Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre. These two composers certainly know how to write passionate and awe inspiring music, and the London based choir Polyphony certainly know how to sing it, perhaps unlike American choirs! Hyperion CDs are best purchased from www.hyperion-records.co.uk

If you have heard a great CD recently, email or send your review to the Secretary, and it may be included in the next bulletin . . .


Any items of interest or news, or church posts you wish to advertise, should be sent to me at music@belfastcathedral.org or Director of Music, Belfast Cathedral, Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2HB. Thank you.

A number of people have approached me about organ lessons. If you are looking for a teacher, or you are a teacher and have vacancies, please do get in touch, and I shall endeavour to match people up as best we can! Philip Stopford, Hon.Sec.

Finally, a reminder . . . .

Don’t be an April fool and miss the Member’s Recital! 3pm in St Peter’s Cathedral, Saturday 1st April

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