Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters

U.S.O.C. Newsletter - March 1999


There was a time when the only music regarded as appropriate for the organ was music written for the instrument. A broader, less doctrinaire approach now prevails and transcriptions are back in favour - so much so, indeed, that one eminent British organist (David Briggs) has recently transcribed the entire fifth symphony of Gustav Mahler! (Available on a Priory CD, PRCD649.)

For our next meeting we have invited ANDREW JOHNSTONE (Assistant Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin) to talk to us about the art of organ transcription. Although what he will say may be relevant primarily to concert performance, he will refer also to the task of making relatively simple non-organ music effective on the organ. All this using the ample resources of the large three-manual organ at BELMONT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, BELFAST, where the meeting will be held at 3pm on SATURDAY 6th MARCH.


As a new student member we welcome to the Society IAN MILLS, organ scholar at Saint Columb's Cathedral, Derry, whose address is .......... Please add his name to your Membership List.


Just a reminder : for November a concert of choral and organ music composed by USOC members is being planned. Please let me have your contributions soon, preferably by the end of March.


Ronald Bayfield, Subscriptions Manager of 'Organists Review', has informed me that the subscriptions of 16 USOC members for 1999 have not yet been received! If yours happens to be one of them please delay no longer. The February issue of OR includes (on page 84) an application form with details regarding payment. Remember that as an USOC member you are entitled to 5.00 discount on the regular price of 17.00.


If you are taking part in our weekend trip to York (May 1st-3rd) let me remind you that the balance of your payment is due by 31st March. For room-sharers the balance (assuming deposit of 40.00 has been paid) is 217.00; for singles 237.00. After careful consideration we decided to upgrade the accommodation included and this accounts for the small increase on the cost originally quoted. Our hotel in York will now be the Post House Forte. Cheques (payable to USOC) should be forwarded to the Honorary Treasurer (address below).


This year's LONDON ORGAN DAY on Saturday 8th May focuses on the music of the Russian Church with features on topics such as 'Treasures of Russian Organ Music' and 'The Place of Music in the Russian Orthodox Church'. Information is given on a leaflet enclosed with the current issue of OR; if you don't subscribe to this excellent publication, I could photocopy the leaflet for you.


This year the IAO intends to hold a three-day Mini-Congress in Birmingham from 30th July to 1st August. Information sheet enclosed.


To celebrate the Millennium in style the possibility of a five-day trip to the German capital in the year 2000 is being actively explored and I hope to send you details soon. Probable departure date: 25th April, the Tuesday following Easter Sunday.


If you are and would like to attend (as participant or observer) an organ tutorial course such as the Oundle Organ School or Haarlem Summer Academy, financial assistance is available from the Dunleath Organ Scholarship Trust. Information and application forms from Dr Desmond Hunter, Department of Music, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, but please note that applications have to be made by 30th April.


Snugly sandwiched betwixt tenor and soprano the lot of the cramped contralto in a church choir is not always a happy one. A poem poignantly portraying their predicament appeared in a recent issue of 'The Daily Mail', and at the risk of my imprisonment on a charge of copyright infringement is reproduced herewith. Your altos will just love it!

I look forward to meeting you at Belmont on 6th March.

'Bye for now,

Honorary Secretary


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