Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - September 2007








THIS SATURDAY (September 15th) at 3pm, Methodist College Chapel


Paul Spicer began his musical training as a chorister at New College. He studied with Herbert Howells and Richard Popplewell (organ) at the Royal College of Music in London, winning the Walford Davies Organ Prize in his final year. He is best-known as a choral conductor, particularly of the acclaimed Finzi Singers with whom he has now made 15 CDs for Chandos records. He has conducted Bach Choirs in Chester and Leicester, and moved to conduct the Bach Choir in Birmingham in 1992. Recently described as being among the premier division of the country’s choirs, the Birmingham Bach Choir performs with major orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra and Florilegium and as part of a wide-ranging programme gives the annual Bach St Matthew Passion performance in Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Paul Spicer conducts the Chamber Choirs at the Royal College of Music in London, and the Birmingham Conservatoire, and is Professor of Choral Conducting at both institutions. He also conducts the Whitehall Choir in London and gives Choral Workshops all over the UK, in Europe and the USA.  Paul Spicer is a member of the Council of Lichfield Cathedral, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Research Fellow of Birmingham University and an Honorary Fellow of the Birmingham Conservatoire. 







Saturday 27th October

The Annual Member’s Recital

at 7.30pm (please note later time than usual)


The choir will be that of St George’s Parish Church, Belfast

with organists Charles Harrison and Nigel McClintock.





Bach at Queen’s: From 2 - 4 November there will be an International Symposium ‘Understanding Bach’s B-minor Mass. This will feature a string of internationally renowned speakers and musicians. It will conclude with a performance of the work itself by the Dunedin Consort, directed by John Butt in Clonard Monastery. This will be a Belfast Festival at Queen’s concert so tickets will be available from their Box Office.


In advance of the Symposium (for which there will be a charge) there will be a series of free Bach Workshops for the local community. One of these, in the Harty Room at Queen’s at 10.00 a m on 1 November is being organised in association with USOC. It will feature three local advanced pianists playing music by Bach that requires an understanding of Baroque dance. This will be led by Colm Carey, Belfast City Organist.


Further details from Professor Yo Tomita (028 9097 5206 or y.tomita@qub.ac.uk). Also see www.music.qub.ac.uk. Two of our committee members Tanja Tierney and Ian Mills, both PhD students at QUB are heavily involved with the organisation of all the events and USOC members will find much to enjoy.





Colm Carey, Belfast City Organist. Last year, Colm gave a private lesson to a number of advanced players who had not had the opportunity to have formal lessons for some time. These were free of charge and were appreciated by those who took part. Colm is keen to repeat the experience and anyone interested should contact me.





From the Treasurer. A few members have still to pay their subscription to USOC for this year in spite of having been reminded in various ways! If you are one of these, pay as soon as possible to retain your membership of the Society!





Tonic Organ Concert – Saturday 20th October, 7.45pm

At the Bangor Academy, Gransha Road, Bangor.

At the console, Simon Gledhill and Richards Hills – internationally acclaimed superstars of the theatre organ world. Their programme will include duets for organ and piano. Early in 2008 Bangor Academy is destined for demolition so this will be the last opportunity of hearing this memorable instrument in its present location. If you need road directions, phone Rodney Bambrick at 028 9146 5222.





Holywood Festival – Saturday 17th November

Organists are encouraged to enter the inaugural USOC sponsored Holywood Festival Organ Classes. Two classes:


Class 39 Age 16 years and under. Prelude in E minor

(From Eight Short preludes and fugues Bach) AND

another contrasting piece. (1st prize £30 presented by



Class 40 Open. Two contrasting pieces (4 minutes time

limit to each piece)(1st prize £50 presented by USOC).



The competition is on Saturday 17 November (afternoon,

with practice time in the morning)


Entries should be sent to Mr Stephen Timpany, 11

Erindee Park, Donaghadee, BT21 OLG by 1st OCTOBER. Any

queries phone Stephen on 07980117397 or James Little, 90421332.




Voices for Hospices

Come and Sing your favourite hymns and join with choirs around the world singing in support of Hospices on Saturday 6th October.


Venue – St James’ Parish Church, Belfast

Time – 3.30pm


Tea and chat afterwards, retiring collection for Hospices

Spread the word and tell your friends.





St Peter’s Cathedral and USOC Saturday Mass series continues …


October 13th          Methodist College, Belfast                  Schubert in G

November 17th       Cathedral Voices and Ecclesium         Durufle Requiem

December 8th         Cappella Caeciliana                             Victoria Mass




Vacant Consoles

Stay up to date with local Organists posts at www.usoc.org.uk





Don’t forget to stay up to date on the web - www.usoc.org.uk






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.





2008 May Trip: Saturday 3rd to Bank Holiday Monday 5th


For next year’s trip we plan to be based in Chester and visit that Cathedral city, north Wales including St Asaph, Liverpool including both Cathedrals, and other interesting venues in Lancashire and Cheshire. As you will know, Liverpool is to be European City of Culture in 2008. Professor Ian Tracey is assisting us with our planning of what should be another enjoyable expedition.


As usual, we need to collect deposits from those interested so that we will be in a position to book accommodation and flights at the lowest possible prices once the relevant flights are available (in this case to and from Liverpool). We expect the total price (flights, two nights room only, private coach travel as required and fees/gratuities) to be between £240 and £280 for those sharing a room, with a single supplement of £60.   


Please complete and return the attached slip to Philip Walden, 20 Hazeldene Avenue, Bangor, BT20 4RA by 12 October to make a booking.




I enclose a cheque for £150 (£200 for single room) or £300 (for two people) as a deposit for the 2008 USOC trip.


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