Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - April/May 2006


Saturday 20th May 2006 at 3pm, “Filling the gaps”
St James’ Parish Church, Antrim Road, Belfast

Philip Stopford and Stephen Hamill will lead a workshop on basic improvisation. Members will be invited to partake and “have a go” at playing the organ without a score, using their own creativity to produce unprepared music. Starting from the very basics, Philip and Stephen will work towards getting two to three minutes worth of music from a few members of the Society, and provide hints and tips on the best way to go about this rather unique musical technique. Organists are often required to play “a bit here and a bit there” – now come along and learn how to do it. As with anything, it takes practice, but we’ll set you off in the right direction . . .

The church is at the junction of the Antrim and Cliftonville Roads.

Paris reminder

Those going to Paris will need your PASSPORT, not just photographic ID. Please be at Belfast International Airport at 12 noon, at the latest, on Friday 28th April. Grateful thanks, in anticipation, to John Crothers in Paris who has worked tirelessly to arrange an exciting itinerary.

Looking back . . .

April’s Members Recital saw a strong turn out at St Peter’s Cathedral. Many thanks once again to our three excellent solo organists, and to Monsignor Tom Toner for allowing us to use the Cathedral and the extensively rebuilt Kenneth Jones organ. We must also once again thank the choir of the Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry, and their conductor Dr Damian Frame and accompanist Philip Stopford. It was uplifting to see the RC Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh and the Head of Religious Broadcasting in BBC NI, Dr Bert Tosh present at the recital.

And looking ahead . . .

Our visits to St Columb’s and St Eugene’s Cathedrals and Christ Church in Derry has had to be postponed until 2007. So, the committee has decided to host a Summer Quiz Night and Social Evening on the evening of Saturday 17th June at 7.30pm. This will be held at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, in the Cathedral Hall, where tea and coffee will be served with light refreshments. Those wishing to bring a bottle of wine may do so (no corkage fees will apply!).

It is suggested that members bring their friends and families, and form teams of no more than 6 people, to compete in the music based quiz for a special prize. The evening will take the form of a fund raising event, and each team will be asked to pay £5 per person. Come and test your Organ and Choral knowledge against friends and colleagues, and win! Entertainment will be provided whilst the final scores are totted up!

USOC is delighted to announce . . .

Saturday 16 September 2006 at 3pm,
Hillsborough Parish Church - SIR DAVID WILLCOCKS

We are thrilled to announce that Sir David Willcocks, one of the true legends in choir training of the last 50 or 60 years, will be in N Ireland at our invitation on this date. He will direct our event featuring carols, to help members’ preparation for Christmas. Belfast’s leading eight voice group, Melisma, will be on hand to demonstrate some of the music.

Also, Sir David will be guest speaker at a dinner we are hoping to have that evening. N.B. It would be of great assistance to us if you could return the slip below in the next few days indicating if you would be interesting in attending such a dinner (with or without a guest) subject to confirmation of price and venue. We expect high demand.

Vacant Consoles

The post of Organist/Director of Music in St Finnian’s Church, Cregagh will shortly become available. The appointee will liaise with Canon Noel Battye in the selection of music and conduct choir practice. The two manual pipe organ supplied by JJ Binns & co in 1959 was extensively refurbished in 2003 by Philip Prosser and Son. To register interest and for further details contact Robin Heatley on 02890794444 or email SRH@utvinternet.com.

Concerts, Recitals and Special Occasions

Ulster Hall Recitals

Friday 12th May, 7.45pm
City Organist, Colm Carey with the Ulster Orchestra

Saturday 3rd June, 7.45pm
World famous organist, Thomas Trotter on a welcome return visit to Belfast.

Holy Trinity, Banbridge

Thursday 25th May, 8pm
“Three Choirs” Ascension Day Festival Service. Sorry, not Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester, but the choirs of Hillsborough, Holy Trinity Banbridge and St Mark’s Portadown will unite for Choral Evensong. All welcome!

Belfast Cathedral

Thursday 15th June, 8pm
4th Annual Summer Concert
featuring the Cathedral Choir, Cathedral Youth Choir and Cathedral Voices

St Molua’s Parish, Stormont

Priory Singers, Thursday 8th June, 8pm
Priory Singers (director: Harry Grindle) will be joined by a chamber orchestra and Phillip Elliott (organ). The suitably celebratory programme will include music by Purcell and the Gloria by Vivaldi. Admission (which includes refreshments after the concert) is £12.00 (Concessions: £10).

The Priory Singers are also organising a Carol Competition for aspiring composers aged between 11 and 21 with the winners receiving attractive cash prizes. The winning carols will be performed by the Priory Singers during their Carols by Candlelight at St. Molua’s Parish Church on Thursday 21 December at 8.00pm. While all secondary and grammar schools and colleges have been circularised, it would be helpful if you were to bring this competition to the attention of anyone known to you who might be eligible to enter. Many thanks.

Wanted . . .

Holy Trinity Banbridge choir seeks cassocks, robes for children 8-13 years old. If your church has any they are not using, please contact Stephen Timpany on 07980117397 (evenings preferred)


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. Philip Stopford, Hon.Sec.

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