Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - May 1998


That's the venue - or more precisely its Parish Church - for this year's Annual Members Concert which will be an interesting blend of Organ Music and Readings from the works of Dr Charles Burney. Described in 'The Oxford Companion to Music' as "one of the first and finest of English Church historians", Burney was born in 1726 and spent most of his life working in London as writer, teacher, organist and composer. His four volume 'General History of Music' was completed in 1789. Our concert begins as 3 pm.


Our series of Spring Concerts got off to an encouraging start at Down Cathedral on May 9th. About all three, details have already been mailed to you so just a brief reminder of the remaining two concerts:

Martin Baker at Hillsborough Parish Church; apres musique vin et vol-au-vents at the Market House.

Desmond Hunter and Parish Choir at St George's Church, Belfast; post-concert canapes on campus.


At 8 pm on Wednesday 10th June an organ recital will be presented at Down Cathedral by ROBERT MARSH including music by Bach, Buxtehude and Britten (he clearly shares my affection for alliteration!).

As organist and conductor Mr Marsh has made many appearances in UK and abroad and has on numerous occasions performed on both radio and television. His recordings include a solo recital on the organ of Ripon Cathedral well received in the music press.


At 7 30 pm on Saturday 13th June in St Patrick's Church, Donegall Street, Belfast, there will be a performance of Bach's B minor Mass by Singet and members of the Ulster orchestra. Tickets available at door (8.00 / Concession 5.00).


And, allowing for just a little secretarial hyberole, that might fairly describe the vast number (well over 50!) of organ concerts to be promoted in Dublin this summer - from May to September. A leaflet listing them is enclosed from which you will be interested to discover that even the Garden of Eden was equipped with an organ. Needless to say one of its stops was labelled '4ft Pomme Interdit'.


Accompanying this circular you will find a letter from our President, Tim Allen, regarding the Arthur Beggs Student Fund which has now been placed on a more secure, clearly defined basis and needs your support.

From me that's all till I write to you again in August. Meantime you might like to note the date for this year's Annual Dinner - Friday 25th September. Details in due course.

Have a nice summer!

Your Honorary Secretary


21 May 1998

President: Timothy Allen, MA, FRCO

Dear Members,

Arthur Beggs was a devoted member of the Society and many of you will have memories of him. As you will know he left the Society a sum of money for the benefit of young Organists. This was initially used to provide financial support for those wishing to go on the annual trip who otherwise couldn't afford to go.

The Committee have had many discussions about how best to use that money. Clearly by drawing from it continually the balance will decrease and, despite occasional donations from members, will eventually run out. On the other hand, simply leaving it as a capital sum and withdrawing the interest on it yields an amount that is relatively small, especially in these days of 6\7% interest rates.

It has now been decided that the best way to honour the memory of Arthur Beggs would be to use his bequest as the starting point for a more substantial sum of money, to be known as the Arthur Beggs Travel Fund but acting as a properly constituted Trust Fund. To this end deeds have been drawn up and agreed by the Committee and a set of procedures for applications will be circulated to all members later in the year.

We can all agree on the need to bring the younger generation into the organ world. The Organist has an awkward image. People make fun of train spotters - we can be seen as the musical equivalent. Trying to project the organ as a musical instrument not neccesarily restricted to church music is a task we should all be engaged in. In these days of "Cool Britannia" we should be looking to make it "cool" to play the organ. We all have a role to play - either through spotting talent and teaching ourselves or, if we don't feel able, by passing it on to the many excellent teachers we have in Northern Ireland. All organists I know, and I include myself, give priority to organ teaching over piano. During my Presidency I hope to expand on this theme in future meetings.

The Arthur Beggs Fund will create opportunities for young organists to broaden their musical horizons through attendance at courses such as Oundle's Organ week and those run by the RSCM, travel to Britain and Europe for specific study and the annual trip by our own Society - to mention a few things.

To do all these things we need money. A sum of 10,000 will generate about 6-700 a year for the Committee to distribute. At our next event in Ballywalter Parish Church we will formally launch the fund.

I am appealing for your support at that event and also over the next two or so years as we build up the fund. If every member of the Society raised least 60 we would reach our target. A coffee morning, recital or other such event could generate that sort of money relatively easily.

Please do take this to heart. The Society's future depends on our ability to attract the young.

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