Kent County Organists’ Association

February 2012 Journal

 

The articles on this page are in the order published in the paper edition of the Journal

To go to a specific article click on the alphabetical list of contents below

 

Contents

 

A day in Chislehurst

All Saints Maidstone Lunchtime Concerts

Comment

Evelyn Tinker

Front Cover

Janet Hughes MA FRCO

Malcolm Curtis

Martin Holloway B.Sc. M.Inst. Gas E 1910-2011

Martyn Noble Canterbury Recital

New Members

Organ for Sale

Organ Festival 2012

President's Dinner

President's Message

The Organ Festival 2011


 

 

 


 

Comment

With the historic 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011 there are undoubtedly a few among us, those enduring paragons of virtue, who have been engaged in a diligent reappraisal of the book’s finest qualities. Nevertheless, others found time to visit and enjoy some noteworthy organs, churches and musicians during our meetings last year. Katherine Dienes-Williams, the first woman Director of Music of an English Anglican Cathedral, was our after-dinner speaker at our President’s Dinner in September. She revealed an extraordinary musical career playing in churches and cathedrals across the world, even braving fearsome earthquakes in the process.

   Our sixth Annual Organ Festival last October was perhaps the highlight of the year for many and was undoubtedly as enjoyable as any previous occasion, with Dr David Flood dispensing his expertise in his uniquely helpful way. We enjoyed some fine playing from each of the seven young musicians, the youngest only thirteen years old, although the real climax of the day was the closing recital by last year’s Festival winner Evelyn Tinker; her performance of Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H left us spellbound. Barbara Childs, who has been chairman of the Festival committee for six successful years, was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Dr Flood in grateful recognition of her tireless work, as she is now retiring and handing things on to a new committee chairman.

   Our new President, Richard Knight, has thrown himself into his role with boundless enthusiasm arranging and bringing together some fascinating meetings (see centre pages). Our ‘Day in Chislehurst’ last November offered four venues and organs, which included some outstanding work by Father Henry Willis and Forster & Andrews together with some architectural delights and interesting historical happenings. In particular, the Church of the Annunciation, built in 1868-70 by James Brooks, is a Grade 11 listed building. Its chancel glows with the colour and warmth of a cardinal’s vest, walls of deep reds and greens bedecked with extravagant scriptural paintings by Westlake, who also designed the mosaics; sadly, the electronic organ here is not of the same quality, leaving much to be desired.

   Nevertheless, as well as an absorbing profile of our member Malcolm Curtis in this edition, we also have an excellent review by David Shuker of the organ recital given by Janet Hughes at Wye Parish Church on 5 November. Unhappily, readers will notice Nigel Durrant’s Notes from the Netherlands is missing from our Journal this time as he has been seriously ill in hospital with Osteomyelitis, an inflammation of the bones and bone marrow. For all that, he has been gallantly playing a 5-stop Klop organ in his hospital chapel and we convey our good wishes and look forward to his return to full health.

   Interestingly, our President, accompanied by Past Presidents Brian Moore and Colin Jilks, received an invitation to attend a reception at Lambeth Palace last November to meet His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is our Association’s Patron. Whether moving in such august company should number them among our Association’s ‘virtuous few’, we cannot say, but it is encouraging our Association is recognised for our work and activities.


President’s Dinner

 Although it may seem a clichť, the sun does indeed pass into the Southern Hemisphere at the end of September bringing heavy dews, misty mornings and autumn colours. It also heralds our President’s Dinner, this year held at Tunbridge Wells. Our new President, Richard Knight, pulled out all the stops in organising one of the most enjoyable of such get-togethers for some years.

   With forty-two members and guests gathering at The Royal Wells Hotel, its elegant Victorian conservatory glass rattled to exuberant voices primed with glasses of pre-dinner Bucks Fizz before we settled to a fine meal of cream of tomato soup, grilled breast of chicken and vegetables, cheese cake and raspberries followed by coffee and chocolates.

   Richard Knight was most courteous in his welcoming speech introducing us to our speaker, Katherine Dienes-Williams, who has the distinction of being the first woman Director of Music of an English Anglican Cathedral when she was appointed as Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral in September 2007. Katherine assumed her post in January 2008, taking over from her predecessor Stephen Farr.

   Katherine was born in 1970 and educated at Wellington, New Zealand and studied for a BA in Modern Languages and a BMus at Victoria University, Wellington. She was organ scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral Wellington from 1988 to 1991 when she was appointed Assistant Organist there. She also acted as Assistant Conductor of the Wellington Youth Choir and appeared as a soloist with the Wellington Youth Orchestra. She came to England in 1991 to take up the post of organ scholar at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Organist at Winchester College.

   Katherine was Assistant Organist at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and then Norwich Cathedral, before being appointed Director of Music at St Mary’s, Church Warwick, in 2001 where she directed and trained the choir of gentlemen and boys, the girls’ choir, and Collegium, an adult concert choir based at the church. Taking up her appointment at Guildford in January 2008, where she is thriving, her engaging after dinner talk was peppered with amusing anecdotes, which traced her progression halfway around the world.

   One particularly interesting story was when she was still the organ scholar at Wellington Cathedral and playing a final voluntary. New Zealand has always been prone to earthquakes and on reaching the bottom of the first page of her voluntary an earthquake, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck violently shaking the cathedral. From school days, children in New Zealand are taught to take shelter under the nearest support until it has passed. After waiting until falling books and loose objects had finally settled Katherine climbed back on to the organ stool and continued her voluntary from where she had left off, at the bottom of the first page. Such dedication in her playing, as it says in the hymn, “through earthquake, wind and fire” displayed a determined and resourceful character which has undoubtedly brought her to where she is now. There were many more fascinating stories, including her first St Paul’s Cathedral recital, before leading the after dinner toasts to our Kent Association and the Queen.

President Richard Knight with Katherine Dienes-Williams
Photo C. Jilks

   Our Dinners traditionally include a raffle and a competition, which on this occasion had been devised by our President. The competition comprised identifying some nine different organs pictured on a clearly produced photo sheet. This was more difficult than it first appeared with some organs showing only consoles, others the cases, and instruments from England and abroad. Of the five dinner tables, which had all been named after prominent composers, the final result was a five all draw between Purcell and Widor, although Widor claimed an extra half mark for knowing that one unknown organ was indeed a Hill instrument. With the raffle providing good entertainment and extra funds for our Association, the evening concluded in good spirits and our new President fully embarked on his two years of office.

The Organ Festival

Our 2011 Organ Festival held at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone on 15 October attracted seven entrants, including three revisiting candidates and a recitalist from 2010. Also returning for our sixth Organ Festival, Canterbury Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, Dr David Flood, who set the syllabus and adjudicated in his customary avuncular style, providing an afternoon of felicity, fascination and interest. In addition, we must thank Margaret Phillips, our Festival Patron, for her generous support and in encouraging two of her students to play this year; and Evelyn Tinker, a past pupil of Margaret Phillips and our 2010 finalist, who returned to give the closing Festival recital.

   The Elementary class was entered by one candidate, Eleanor Carter, aged 13. Eleanor is from Guildford and has lessons with Katherine Dienes-Williams at Guildford Cathedral. She has been learning the organ for four years and passed her Grade 7 organ with distinction in March 2011. As well as playing regularly at her local church she also plays the cello and piano.  

   There were no entrants for the intermediate class this year, although the Advanced class attracted three contestants: Michal Bryks, Guy Steed and Martyn Noble.

   Michal Bryks was born in Rzeszow, Poland, where he studied piano for six years before joining the organ class. He came to the UK in 2007 studying under Michael Wynne at St Mary’s Priory, Warrington, then at St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh under Duncan Ferguson. He is now at the Royal College of Music under Margaret Phillips. Michal is currently organ scholar at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London.

   Guy Steed is fifteen years old and attends St Edmund’s School, Canterbury. He was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral for five years and also plays the piano and harp. He has been learning the organ for five years and has just become Assistant Organist at St Mary’s Church, Ashford. He attended the Oundle for Organists Summer Course during 2011 playing for the Festival afternoon, and won a recital award at a Cambridge church.

   Martyn Noble is originally from Leicestershire where, aged nine, he joined the choir of his local parish church, St Thomas the Apostle, South Wigston. He also began learning the piano, later studying for his A-levels in Music, Music Technology, Mathematics and Further Mathematics at Guthlaxton College. At his church he moved into the back row singing alto, then bass, and starting to learn the organ, eventually achieving Grade 8 (Distinction) and also Grade 8 in piano. He remained as organ scholar at St Thomas’ Church until 2009 when he became Organ Scholar of Liverpool Cathedral. More recently he has secured a place to study for his Bachelor of Music degree at the Royal College of Music. He is studying for his LRSM in organ performance and his ARCO exams with Margaret Phillips.

   The Open class was entered by five candidates: Michal Bryks, Martyn Noble, Laurence Long, Matthew Nicholls, and Thomas Shelbourn.

   Laurence Long is Organ and Music Scholar at King’s Rochester and has been studying the organ with Roger Sayer since 2007. He has been the Parish of Rochester Organ Scholar since September 2010 and regularly accompanies his school’s services. Laurence was also awarded the Dr Corfe Memorial Prize for organ at King’s in 2011.

   Matthew Nicholls is 13 years old and attends Ashford School where he is a music scholar. As well as the organ he plays the piano, the trumpet and he sings. He has been Head Chorister at St Mildred’s Church, Tenterden since the age of ten, and gained both Deans and Bishops awards from the RSCM. Matthew studies the organ under Janet Hughes and has recently been invited to join the junior section of the Kent Youth Jazz Orchestra after going on a summer course at Benenden.

Michal Bryks, Thomas Shelbourn, Guy Steed, Laurence Long, Martyn Noble, Eleanor Carter,
Dr. David Flood, Matthew Nicholls
Photo C. Jilks

   Thomas Shelbourn has been playing the organ for nearly two years and has lessons with Peter Hart. He is part way through his gap year which includes being organist at St Mary’s Church, Thurnham. Thomas has applied to study joint recorder/tuba at the Guildhall School of Music and Royal College of Music and hopes to start in September 2012. He plays the piano to Grade 8 and leads ‘The Baroque Stop’ in Thurnham. Thomas came second in the Maidstone and Mid Kent ‘Young musician of the year 2011’ and plans to become a professional musician.

   Eleanor Carter opened the Festival with the elementary class set pieces which were: Chorale prelude – Ich ruf’zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Little Organ Book) BWV 639 by J S Bach and Tuba Tune by C S Lang. Eleanor’s Bach was lucid and well-paced with telling registrations and clarity of phrasing, her ‘toes-only’ pedal technique lending a detached articulation to her pedal line. Her Tuba Tune was performed with a joyful lilting musicality, and being the only entrant for the Elementary Class, she could not fail to be the winner, but a worthy winner nevertheless.

  Having no entrants for the intermediate class the Festival continued with the advanced class and the set pieces: Prelude in B minor BWV 544 by J S Bach and Fantaisie in E flat by Saint-SaŽns. Michal Bryks was first to play, presenting good registration and some well-mannered playing in his Bach; nevertheless, semiquaver passages were a little rushed, disturbing the musical flow. His Saint-SaŽns had a beautifully flowing opening, but indistinct registrations clouded the cross manual parts and rhythms. The Allegro’s phrasing did not perhaps allow the full grandeur of the music to come through, although Michal gave a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Appreciation for Barbara Childs' six years Festival work
Photo C. Jilks

   Martyn Noble was next to play with his Bach displaying musicality and flow, his considered phrasing reflecting the piece’s overarching structure, indeed Dr Flood’s right foot was seen to tap unknowingly to the music’s rhythms, even though a hint of nerves caused some of Martyn’s phrases to be a little rushed. His Saint-SaŽns was articulately delivered with good clear registration creating musical anticipation and movement. The Allegro enjoyably captured the eloquence of the music, even though some phrases were slightly rushed, detracting a little from the overall structure, perhaps compensated by Martyn’s daring grand tuba finish.

   Guy Steed, aged only 15, would find the two undergraduate aged contestants a hard act to follow. However, he gave us Bach at a controlled steady speed, his semiquaver passages beautifully and musically played, allowing every note to be heard, and his phrasing infusing the music with a brush of Bach’s greatness. The Saint-SaŽns used clear registrations for the opening section, bringing the individual parts through. The Allegro opened at a very steady and controlled — perhaps a little too steady — tempo, causing the music to lose forward momentum and movement, but it was bravely delivered and engaging to the listener. (Unusually, to allay any suggestion of bias, as Guy Steed is a pupil of Dr David Flood, David asked our Deputy President, Colin Jilks, to help with the adjudication; happily, after a brief consultation, they seemed to be of one accord).

   The Open class proved attractive with five candidates taking part, each selecting their own music, which must be played using only the softer stops of the organ. With the wide disparity in age and experience the results proved interesting and enjoyable. Dr Flood said he was looking for the candidates’ utilisation of the organ and understanding of the music relative to their experience and abilities.

   Michal Bryks played Folk Tune by Whitlock with singing phrasing and musicality and good use of the organ. Laurence Long played PriŤre ŗ Notre-Dame by BoŽllmann with steady rhythms and good use of registration and colour. Matthew Nicholls chose Adagio by C Geissler, an engaging piece, but with some nervous slips. Martyn Noble played Vierne’s Impromptu with its plethora of cascading arpeggios cleanly performed with good registration and musical flourishes. Finally, Thomas Shelbourn played Telemann’s Andante from Trio Sonata for 2 manuals and pedals with some enjoyable use of registration; there were a few slips, but it was musically performed.

  Dr Flood took time to consider all the performances, analysing each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, helpfully taking each candidate through their pieces revealing how their playing might be improved, providing a very telling and educational methodology, not just for the candidates, but us all.

   The winner of the elementary class was, of course, Eleanor Carter, receiving her award of £100. The advanced class was won by Martyn Noble with the award of £200 and a recital in Canterbury Cathedral. The Open class was won by Laurence Long gaining his award of £100. There was also an award for the two most promising students, who were Guy Steed and Laurence Long each receiving £50.

Dr. Flood adds his congratulations
Photo C. Jilks

   This had been a successful and enjoyable afternoon and we are grateful to the candidates, Dr Flood and all those who have given of their time to bring the 2011 Festival to its fruitful conclusion. However, without Barbara Childs’ hard work and dedicated enthusiasm as chairman of the Festival committee, our Festival would not have taken place and as a mark of gratitude Dr Flood presented Barbara with a generous bouquet of flowers. Although this concluded the competitive part of the Festival afternoon a splendid tea lay in readiness for us, kindly and skilfully prepared by Elizabeth Marchant and her helpers, allowing time to regain our musical composure before the final highlight of the afternoon: Evelyn Tinker’s Festival recital.

Evelyn Tinker
Festival Recital 2011

Evelyn Tinker was the winner of our 2010 Organ Festival and, as part of her award, gave a memorable recital at Canterbury Cathedral on 24 June 2011. Born in Lancaster, Evelyn is 20 years old and started organ lessons with her father at the age of ten. She has attained her ARCO Diploma and a distinction in an advanced diploma in piano performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and gave a recital at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford in 2010. She was the first Jennifer Bate Organ Scholar at St Catherine’s School, Bramley in association with Guildford Cathedral, where she frequently accompanied services. She has been studying at the Royal College of Music with Margaret Phillips, but is now studying for a degree in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics whilst continuing her organ studies.

President Richard Knight with Evelyn Tinker at the console of the organ in All Saints Church, Maidstone
Photo C. Jilks

   Her Festival recital at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone included music by Bach, Franck and Liszt. Opening with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Major, her sensitive choice of registration and clarity of playing compellingly revealed Bach’s inner musical subtleties and structure. Staying with Bach she then played his Trio Sonata 111 with delicately phrased part playing, each part following its own musically devolved individuality with that touch of rubato enabling the music to breathe; similarly the registrations she used for the three movements were thoughtfully imbued with their own tonal textures.

   Chorale No. 3 in A Minor by Franck was played with a stunning musicality and control, revealing previously undiscovered organ colours delivered in lavish romantic phrasing and singing melodic lines culminating in a grand gesture full-organ finish.

   Allowing the audience time to regain their composure, Evelyn played Consolation No. 4 by Liszt, with its gently swelling strings and Choir organ solos beautifully played, before the final work: Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H. Its titanic opening, with double pedalling, was masterly executed and controlled, then whispering strings giving way to the returning ghostly B-A-C-H figure on 16ft Great diapasons. Evelyn’s consummate playing encompassed the grand overarching musicality of the piece, put together with a faultless, seemingly effortless technique.

   Evelyn Tinker appears an unassuming self-effacing young woman, but once seated at the organ she undergoes an immediate metamorphosis, emerging as a musical colossus, her playing’s every phrase and nuance carefully considered, before being delivered in a flowing musical performance. This had been a recital of the first order, her intoxicating playing leaving the audience breathless for more, bringing to a close our sixth Organ Festival in grand style.

A day in Chislehurst

In the Adventure of the Abbey Grange Sherlock Holmes roused Dr Watson early one morning to make haste to the Abbey Grange, near Chislehurst, Kent, to find Sir Eustace Brackenstall brutally murdered, apparently by burglars. Set in 1897, Chislehurst must have seemed in the depth of the country, its tranquillity greatly disturbed by such dreadful happenings.

   Nevertheless, over a hundred years later, on 12 November 2011, our Kent County Organists found Chislehurst to have fared well over the intervening years, retaining its lush green commons and trees. We visited four noteworthy churches and organs, the first a fine 1883 Father Henry Willis at Christ Church, Chislehurst. This is set at the west end of the building and, with its detailed front pipe stencilling, is a magnificent 3-manual and pedal instrument spanning the full width of the nave. After a welcome from the vicar, Rev Michael Adams, their organist, Jackie Rotter, gave us a short demonstration. Then, our Deputy President, Colin Jilks, who tunes and maintains the organ, gave a brief description of the organ’s mechanical and tonal design, which is typical Willis of the period.  It has a rich tonal palette, with singing diapasons, warm flutes, crisp reeds and, of course, a Great organ sesquialtera mixture. A new 16ft pedal trombone was added by Martin Cross during the 1980s which nicely balances the manual reeds. The action is tracker, but now has electrical assistance on the Swell to Great coupler; the drawstops are operated by electric solenoids, allowing ease of use and fully settable thumb pistons. Its specification is: Great Organ, 16 8 88 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 16 16 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 16 8 4 with electric fan tremulant; Solo Organ, 8 4 2 11/3 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 16 8 16 with usual couplers.

Christ Church, Willis case detail
Photo C Jilks

   Unfortunately, the church is heated by a system more suited to an aircraft hangar which sends fierce gusts of hot air into the building from large vents just in front of the organ. Consequently, the Swell and Great divisions become wildly out of tune, making coupling impossible; thankfully, when approached, the vicar kindly turned it off, allowing the organ’s departments to steadily return to a comfortable harmony. Michael Cooke was the first of many to play, demonstrating individual stops and departments, before fully revealing this very fine organ with its exciting full organ ensemble.

Christ Church, Chislehurst 1883 Father Henry Willis
Photo C. Jilks

   Our second organ was at the Methodist Church, Chislehurst, and is a Forster & Andrews of 1870 & 1883; it was restored by F H Browne in 1990 leaving its specification unchanged. The Methodist Church has been recently restored with the original pews removed and chairs set out on an impressive new stone floor, which has undoubtedly enhanced the building’s acoustic and, consequently, the sound of the organ. Set neatly in a south transept corner, the organ retains its original tracker action and a straight pedalboard, as well as an attractive display of stencilled front and side pipes; the Swell and Choir Organ swell boxes are operated by ‘trigger’ pedals. Its specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 8 8; Choir Organ, 8 8 8 4 2 Tremulant; Pedal Organ, 16 16 8, with usual couplers. Interestingly, the organ was originally hand blown by George Watto, an African boy rescued from a group of Portuguese slave traders by Dr David Livingstone, and was one of six boys who helped return Dr Livingstone’s body to England.

   After a brief welcome from their organist, Lynton Cope, Andrew Cesana played Berceuse from 24 Pieces in free style by Louis Vierne and Fanfare in D by Nicholas Jacques Lemmens, demonstrating the organ’s keen throbbing strings, warm flutes and lyrical diapasons; diapasons voiced by Forster & Andrews before they adopted their more full bodied timbres at the turn of the century. Its tracker action is firm but comfortable and many members were keen to play, Tony Bullet attracted particular attention using the Choir tremulant in Evensong, a charming Edwardian piece composed in 1910 by Easthope Martin.

Methodist Church, Chislehurst
Foster & Andrews of 1870 & 1883
Photo C. Jilks

   A good lunch of lasagne and salad, apple crumble, tea and coffee was available at the Methodist Church before finding our way to The Church of the Annunciation, set in Chislehurst High Street. This church has much to commend it; built in 1868-70 by James Brooks, it is a Grade 11 listed building. Its extravagant and colourful decoration and paintings are by Westlake, who also designed the mosaics made by Salviati in 1890; its stained glass is by Hardman produced to Brooks’ design. We were welcomed by an enthusiastic Margaret Withers, Organist and Director of Music, who spoke of the church history and the original Forster & Andrews organ that was mindlessly vandalised during the late 1950s and was sadly beyond repair. Electronic instruments have since served; the first, a 1960s electronic organ which was replaced in 2010 by a new Phoenix Digital organ. This has an impressive 3-manual and pedal console with its loudspeakers set high on the choir screen; they can just be seen in the photograph of the church.

Church of the Annunciation, organ loudspeakers set on choir screen
Photo C. Jilks

Margaret demonstrated the organ’s available colours and departments before members were let loose to explore its capabilities. A few soft flute sounds ethereally explored the building’s resonant acoustic, but the predictable electronic pottage was the result of adding diapasons and reeds, not helped by an over forceful pedal department. Nevertheless, the organ’s deficiencies aside, the building’s architecture and sumptuous decorative design made our visit well worthwhile and provided an interesting contrast to the final church of the day.

Chislehurst, The Church of the Annunciation, 2010 Phoenix Digital organ
Photo C. Jilks

   This was the Parish Church of St Nicholas, which is originally 15th century but was greatly enlarged during the 19th century. The organ case and reredos are by Bodley, installed in 1896 and features on our Journal cover. The organ is of mixed pedigree containing pipes from an 1856 Rust of Cheltenham organ, rebuilt by Lewis in 1901; Martin Cross made tonal changes in 1991 and again in 2008.  However, before hearing the organ Jean Pailing, author of the book ‘Francis Murray of Chislehurst’ gave a stimulating talk on Rev Francis Murray who was Rector of St Nicholas Church for fifty-six years, 1846 until his death in 1902. He totally reorganised St Nicholas’ Church, as well as initiating the building of the Church of the Annunciation we had just visited. He was a major force in the church and its music, being a proprietor and the instigator of the publication of the much loved Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861.

   Following a delicious tea, with fine cut finger sandwiches and cakes, we were introduced to the organ by Director of Music, Michael Bell. It is a large organ for its case but speaks well into the church; its 3-manual and pedal electric action console is in the chancel opposite the organ, allowing full sight and sound of the instrument. Michael Bell gave a short but most enjoyable recital, choosing appropriate music to demonstrate the different sections of the organ. He started with Fanfare & Processional by Andrew Carter with the organ’s flutes and Swell reeds coming through into the building effectively. Mozart’s Leipzig Jig K574 demonstrated clear chirpy Positiv flutes and mutations before Elgar’s Nimrod, with gentle smooth strings  and a singing Great 8ft gedact building to full organ chorus, only slightly marred by its Martin Cross mixture with its harsh edginess. Pietro Yon’s Toccatina for Flute came over well with the Positive’s charmingly chiffy flutes and mutations. Michael finished with Impromptu No.1 by Coleridge-Taylor with its rich romantic opening, the organ’s 8ft tonal warmth expanding into the building, then strings and flutes, with tremulant, giving some enjoyable colour before building to a rich full organ with lush romantic chords. Its specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 4 2 11; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 2 16 8 tremulant; Positive, 8 4 2 11/3; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 8 8 4, with usual couplers.

   This was a most enjoyable recital fully revealing the organ’s colours and quality, and it was rightly met with members’ warm grateful applause. There was still time for members to try the organ for themselves, before making our way home under the cover of darkness. We must particularly thank President, Richard Knight, for organising the day for us.

   Strangely, had Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson not been fictional characters, they too could have explored the very same churches and organs in 1897, indeed with a Forster & Andrews at the Annunciation, they would have seen and experienced even more.

Janet Hughes MA FRCO
Wye Parish Church, Saturday 5 November 2011

Recital Review
by David Shuker

The provision of a positive division in organs of East Kent seems to be something of a regional speciality as the organ in Wye Parish Church is the second example that I encountered in as many weeks (the other is at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone). A positive organ was installed at Wye in 1959 as the result of a benefaction and is played from a third manual which was added to the two-manual organ by Albert Keates dating from 1928. The Keates organ was moved from Sheffield to Wye in the 1970s.

   The first and, given the date, very appropriate item in Janet Hughes’ recital was an arrangement of the Finale from Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and made very effective use of the positive division to contrast with the full organ. From the start of the recital, Janet’s crisp articulation and rhythmic playing engaged our attention across a broad range of repertoire. The early classical galant style of CPE Bach’s Adagio from the Sonata in G minor (Wq 70/6) was in stark contrast to the strictly contrapuntal Fantasia and Fugue in F minor (BWV 542) of his father. Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor (K608) was originally written for a mechanical (barrel) organ and makes great demands on a human player but Janet’s assured technique did not falter and the dramatic structure of the piece was very well developed. The first half of the recital closed with another ‘crowd pleaser’ — the Toccata from Widor’s Fifth Organ Symphony but also preceded by the less well-known Allegro Cantabile. Here, the lack of a forceful pedal reed (a bassoon 16 is all that there is) did not allow us to appreciate the deft pedalwork to the full.

Janet Hughes MA FRCO at Wye Parish Church
Photo Bin Hughes

   The second half of the recital was firmly in the Romantic and near-contemporary repertoire. Once again Janet’s clarity of execution allowed the subtleties of Wesley (Choral Song), Rheinberger (Introduction and Passacaglia from Sonata in E minor) and the demanding Elgar Allegretto from Organ Sonata No. 1 in G to be appreciated. Such pieces can all too often descend into a misty mush of swooping string sounds. We had none of that and the required registration changes on an organ with few of the modern playing aids required the skilful assistance of Brin Hughes. The high point of this recital was the final piece — which in all honesty was what I was least expecting to enjoy — Dieu parmi nous from Messiaen’s La Nativitť du Seigneur. From the initial descending pedal motif representing the descent of God to earth to the final sparkling toccata, I was enthralled. The toccata had (intentional?) echoes of the Widor version but Messiaen was no doubt too deep a composer to be tempted into mere virtuosity.

   Overall, this was an extremely well-performed programme that had clearly been carefully thought through. Programmes arranged in chronological order are sometimes eschewed as perhaps being too predictable but without such pointers the listener can be obliged to lurch from style to (very different) style and back again. In Janet Hughes’ recital I rather had the impression that we were skilfully led from the familiar to the challenging in a very intelligent way.

Martin Holloway B.Sc. M.Inst.Gas E 1910 – 2011
by Brian Moore

It is with sadness that we record the death of Martin Holloway at the remarkable age of 101. A Service of Thanksgiving for his long life was held at the Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Eastry, on All Souls Day, 2nd November.

   He was a very well known figure locally, having retired there in 1972 and over the years had held  appointments at  Eastry, Ramsgate Baptist Church, St Mary’s, Walmer, and more recently played at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Sandwich, and the United Reformed Church, Ash. We visited St Bartholomew’s in November 2000, when Martin described the organ, and he played at Ash for us in October 2008.  Playing the piano every week for the choir at the local primary school gave him particular pleasure, and he last played the organ ten days before his death. 

Dr. David Flood presents Martin with a 100th birthday cars
Photo D. Holloway

   David, his son, wrote about his father in our August 2007 Journal describing his early years in the gas industry and in London where he became Senior Lecturer at Westminster Technical College. Like father, like son, David is also an organist and a KCOA member. He is Director of Music at St  John’s, Wittersham.

   The service was conducted by the Reverend Philip Clements, a former chaplain of Lancing College and of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Dr David Flood, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Canterbury Cathedral played, and a choir of local singers was conducted by Robert Tapsfield.

   Before the service Dr Flood played: Festing Largo, Allegro, Aria & Two Variations, one of Martin’s favourite pieces, Bach chorale prelude SchmŁcke dich, O liebe Seele,  Elgar Nimrod, Albinoni/Giazotto Adagio in G minor, and Bach Sheep may safely graze. The hymns were The King of love my shepherd is and Dear Lord and Father of mankind. Readings were given by Mark Howell, grandson, and Carol Morgan, daughter.

Martin Holloway at the organ
Photo D. Holloway

   In his eulogy David spoke touchingly, and at times humorously, referring to many aspects of his father’s life. As well as being expert in all things DIY and technical, more recently he had learnt to cook, ordered his groceries online, kept up-to-date with computer developments, was a formidable Scrabble opponent and played Sudoku.

   After the address by the Reverend Clements, who spoke about their shared time at St Bartholomew’s,  the choir sang Faurť Cantique de Jean Racine, then after the Commendation the Ireland in F Nunc Dimittis.

   The congregation sat and listened to a spirited performance of Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and during the Recession Dr Flood played The Angel’s Farewell from The Dream of Gerontius by Elgar.

   The service was a fitting tribute to a much loved and respected man who led such a full and active life to the end, always looking forward. “Amazing” is the word most often used to describe him. Martin’s life is an inspiring example to us all. May he rest in peace.

Front Cover
St Nicholas Church, Chislehurst

By Gary Tollerfield

G F Bodley was a pupil of George Gilbert Scott, as was his partner of almost thirty years, Thomas Garner. The partnership flourished during the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when large numbers of churches were being built with new organs installed.

   George Bodley was an architect who believed that he should be involved in the design of the entirety of his commission, not just the structure of the building, so he and his practice have left behind a good number of Bodley organ cases.    There are aspects of the design of a Bodley organ case that makes one instinctively say on viewing an organ for the first time that “that case is probably by Bodley”. Nine times out of ten you would be right. 

   The telling features of a Bodley case include a clear understanding of organ case design of a flat Gothic appearance, usually with an oversailing or cantilevered soffite at impost level. Three towers and two flats are common, with the flats only slightly recessed. The pipe feet are level, and very often so are the pipe mouths, but perhaps the best clue is the intricately carved pipe shades with their distinctive wavy bottom edges. Another Bodley feature is the detailing of the top of the towers with highly carved level cornices. Expect to see plenty of gold leaf on the carvings against brown or green paint, or the natural polished hardwood colour.

Chislehurst, St. Nicholas, Bodley case 1896
Photo C. Jilks

   So, looking at the organ case at St Nicholas, it is without doubt from the Bodley stable, but I cannot recall seeing any Bodley case without pipework in all the towers and flats, so the Gothic profusion of carving in the centre tower and two adjacent flats is untypical, if not unusual. To my mind the centre tower with its carved pipe shades, matching the two outer towers, was surely meant to house pipework. Has the pitch of the roof panels prevented the insertion of the pipes for the bottom notes of the keyboard? The carved panels to the flats are in two sections. Why? Should there be pipework below the top quatrefoil panel?

   The overall effect of the case is very opulent, but somehow not quite what to expect from G F Bodley. Perhaps his partner Thomas Garner was closer to this design and wishing to leave his mark.

   One final observation. That carved panel on the side of the case seems to have no reason for being there, but appears to relate in height to the rectangular panels in the two flats. I wonder if it fits into the centre tower, which would have left room for some smaller pipework above. What do you think? 

President’s Message
By Richard Knight

Surprisingly, the title ‘President’ does offer a few benefits, as I was to find when visiting my cousin in New Zealand. He managed to arrange a number of visits to interesting organs on the pretext that the President of KCOA was visiting the Country. (At the time I was only the President Elect and the standard of performance did not match the grandeur of the title!) Thus, I was fortunate to play various organs in Wellington, including the Anglican and RC Cathedrals, and Napier Cathedral. More recently, I received an invitation to attend a reception at Lambeth Palace to meet His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is our Patron. Accompanied by Past Presidents Brian Moore and Colin Jilks, we were privileged to meet the Archbishop and his wife, and members from other organisations who share his patronage. The reception was held in the Guard Room, a large room of medieval origin, featuring a magnificent early 16th century arch-braced wooden roof. Around the walls were the portraits of former Archbishops from the 17th and 18th Century. There was a steady supply of delicious canapťs and drinks which aided the social intercourse between the various groups including the Archbishop’s staff. 

  Also I have had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Phillips, our Festival Patron and Dr. David Flood, the Festival adjudicator, even having the privilege of being his page turner at one of his concerts. 

   I consider it an honour to be your President, though I tread with trepidation in the footsteps my illustrious predecessors.

Richard Knight
Photo C. Jilks

   On your behalf, I would like to thank Kevin Grafton, our immediate Past President, who worked diligently to ensure that we had successful and informative meetings. At the same time, he was fulfilling his duty as our treasurer and thankfully he has agreed to continue in the role. He is well qualified to do the job and it is reassuring that our finances are in a safe pair of hands.

   There are a couple of objectives that I would like to see being fulfilled during my tenure.

1)  Well attended, interesting and enjoyable meetings. So, I hope that the special visits that we have arranged for you in Belgravia, SW1 in April (28th), visiting three Anglican churches of very different persuasions, possessing very fine organs and musicians, and the trip to St. Albans in June (9th), arranged by Nicholas King, visiting St Peter’s, St Paul’s, Chipperfield, and the new organ at St John’s, Boxwell, will whet your appetites. I hope to see you there.   

2) Our membership has been steadily declining and we are getting older. Sadly some have joined the heavenly choirs. We must try and attract new members. Everyone can help. We can all be disciples! It might mean slipping leaflets into churches, or personal contacts and gentle persuasion. Why not invite a friend to a meeting? We need to attract young people, for they will ensure the future of the organ. With that in mind, on 6th October 2012, we will be holding our 7th Annual Organ Festival Competition, led by our new Festival Chairman, Rob Miller. We need your continued and full support for this worthy venture so that it is a success and something that KCOA can be proud of. Please think how you might make a valuable contribution. Here are some suggestions:= 

a. Become a ‘Festival Friend’ (ff), for a donation of £15.00 which would include the Festival tea, though a larger contribution would be greatly appreciated.

b. Help to publicise the event, by any means possible? 

c. Talent spot a likely candidate and persuade them to enter the competition.

d. Speak to a music teacher you might know and find out if they have any  pupils who could participate in the competition.

e. Arrange to sponsor a prize, either as an individual, with a group, or an organisation you are associated with.

f. Offer to be chaperone to one of the candidates and their family.

   If you have any helpful suggestions, or are prepared to organise, or host a visit, I would love to hear from you.

   We need to keep our records up to date. Some of you may have acquired e-mail addresses that we don’t have, or if we do, are incorrect.

  If you are able, please contact Rosemary and myself. Our e-mail addresses are:

r.clemence@blueyonder.co.uk  richard@serisine.co.uk

and include your name, address and phone number, it is so useful to have them. Thank you.

The 2012 Organ Festival

 

Malcolm Curtis

A short Profile 

Although Queen Elizabeth 11 was not crowned until 2 June 1953, she acceded to the throne on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father, King George v1, heralding a new Elizabethan age. Born just a few weeks later, on 19 April 1952, Malcolm Curtis was a neonate child of this new era, unwittingly poised to succeed on the wave of national optimism following the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Malcolm Curtis
Photo C. Jilks

   Born at Farnborough, Kent, Malcolm enjoyed a creative family background with both parents being musical. His mother, Gwen, was a violinist, who played with the Orpington orchestra, and his father, Geoff, was an organist and member of our KCOA, serving on the committee. Malcolm’s maternal grandmother sang in the choir at Methodist Central Hall, in London, as well as being married there. His paternal grandfather had sung in the choir at Orpington Parish Church and his great uncle, Harry Curtis, was the organist at St John’s Church, Lewisham in the early 1950s.

   Malcolm first tried an organ stool after an evensong service at the church in Lewisham where his father was organist and choirmaster, the name of which now escapes him, although he knows it was later demolished. Apparently he was only two years old at the time, but appeared to enjoy it and caused a little mirth amongst the men of the choir.

   The family moved from Orpington in 1955 when Malcolm was still only three, setting up home in Edenbridge. His father became organist at Four Elms Parish Church, with its Willis organ, which regrettably is no longer playable. When Malcolm reached the great age of five, his father asked a local electrician, with recording expertise, to record Malcolm singing carols, with his father accompanying; the 78 rpm records still have great charm.

   1958 brought another move, this time to Groombridge where, at the age of eight, Malcolm started singing in the choir of St Thomas’ Church, continuing until he was thirteen, with the last four years under his father who was Choirmaster. Also, he vividly remembers singing for evening services in the men and boys choir of St Luke’s Church, Tunbridge Wells under Walter Neal, finding it a wonderful experience.

   Malcolm started piano lessons when he was seven, a peripatetic teacher coming to the house giving lessons to both Malcolm and his younger brother. Progress was slow, the teacher providing little encouragement and eschewing exams, so a new lady teacher was found in Tunbridge Wells, with promising results. Indeed, Malcolm’s mother thought it a good idea for the boys to take part in music festivals; Malcolm was not too keen, neither was their teacher, but participate they did.

   In the late 1950s there were still a number of children’s comics published, including the Robin, Swift and The Eagle, and the publishers of these august journals organised an annual carol service in St Paul’s Cathedral for their readers. The family attended and Malcolm remembers the first year they sat in what is now the organ loft, overlooking the choir.

   His father, Geoff, took him to KCOA meetings, and he remembers going to Aylesford Paper Mill and picking up samples of pulp and different papers, then giving an authoritative talk at school. They visited the Brownes of Canterbury organ works near St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury, and he still remembers the pungent smell of the wood. There was a visit to Aylesford Priory, where seeing the skull of a saint made quite a lasting impression.

   Singing was still important, and Malcolm went to Addington Palace for a summer course, first in 1963, when John Gadsden (organist of Ashford Parish Church) was his housemaster; the warden was Rev Sage and Derek Holman was the sub-warden. He went again in 1965, this time with his brother, when Roy Massey was warden, Martin Howes was ‘master of the boys’, and their house master was Michael Smith. Malcolm thinks that he may have been Assistant Organist at Salisbury at the time, but was later organist at LLandaff Cathedral. Their father took the choirmasters’ course on both visits. Malcolm thrived on the strict routine, with military bed making and the music. Also, most enjoyable, was the end of course ‘entertainment’, when Gerald Knight was still to be seen.

   Malcolm’s father organised ‘three choir festivals’ with the neighbouring churches of Withyham and Hartfield. These had support from Sir William McKie who lived in Groombridge. Malcolm found him particularly encouraging, coming to listen to the choirs’ efforts. Although he insisted, much to Malcolm’s displeasure, that he achieve his Grade 5 ABRSM piano before switching to the organ; he did, just, scraping through with 102 marks.

   Malcolm was subsequently sent for organ lessons at Holy Trinity Church, Tunbridge Wells with Mr Benjamin Treavett, FRCO, FTCL, FMus TCL, LRAM. He was seventy-nine, and Malcolm still not quite fifteen. Malcolm cycled into town for his lessons on Saturday afternoons on the three manual Walker organ set up on the west gallery. After a while Sir William was kind enough to come and listen to Malcolm play at St John’s in Groombridge – one of the Eight short preludes by Bach.

   There was also singing at Langton Parish Church under Leslie Bourner, the late Margaret Bourner’s husband, and whilst there he sung at several choir festivals in Rochester Cathedral. For his two remaining years as a treble, Malcolm remembers standing beneath Dr Ashfield’s podium with his fearsome gaze, but when his voice broke he was placed farther down the nave. Nevertheless, he still found it inspiring singing with so many people and an impressive organ.

   There was competitive singing, which he quite enjoyed until he was fourteen, when the adjudicator said that he would not give him first place in the boys’ treble class as he would have another chance next year – he didn’t, as his voice broke soon afterwards.

   Malcolm’s secondary school, Beacon School Crowborough, was not terribly musical, although one of the school governors was Reverend Dykes, grandson of the hymn tune writer. Prior to one speech day they were all told that slow handclapping was forbidden, but on the day there was Rev Dykes applauding at an andante beat, so the pupils took their beat from him, and the Head exploded. They also had John Boland, a writer of detective novels, to do the presentations one year, who said: ‘Don’t believe anything your teachers tell you.. (long pause and general mirth from pupils) ... until you have thought about it’.

   Outings with the KCOA continued. Of course, there were the good teas, but for Malcolm and his brother, it was a case of get it down as quickly as possible so they could try the organs. This was particularly the case at a meeting at Croydon Parish Church, where Roy Massey gave a recital and, embarrassingly, Malcolm’s mother told him she did not like a particularly loud stop he had used, although he did say he quite understood. Tea was at Addington Palace, and the boys found they could try the organ in their house room they were never previously allowed to play whilst on the courses.

   Malcolm’s father had moved on and become organist at High Hurstwood, near Buxted, working to build up the choir. Malcolm’s organ lessons continued, but he had to stop after Grade 5 as his teacher had become ill, although he did pass with merit.

   Leaving Beacon School in 1970, Malcolm went to college in Nottingham for a year, before serving his long apprenticeship as an Articled Clerk, based at Lancaster Gate, London, to finally become a fully qualified Solicitor. He remembers hearing the organ being played in nearby St Alban’s Church, and met Andrew Lucas there who let him try the organ. Malcolm continued playing the organ, often helping his father at St John’s Church, Groombridge. He also continued going to KCOA meetings, driving to meetings with his brother.

   Malcolm had kept in touch with an old ‘Beacon’ school friend, and meeting up on one occasion, was introduced to his sister, Stephanie, a charmingly attractive young woman who played the clarinet. They were married at Jarvis Brook near Crowborough in 1979. Stephanie also played and taught classical guitar, guided by her father who had been taught the guitar by Len Williams (John William’s father) and, subsequently, taught guitar at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham. Malcolm and Stephanie enjoyed their music and often went to concerts in Tunbridge Wells, where they were fortunate to have heard Yehudi Menuhin, Louis Kentner, Paul Tortelier, Julian Bream, and many others.

   In time there were two children, Lucy, and Alistair. Stephanie was confirmed so continued to go to church where their daughter Lucy wanted to sing in the choir. Malcolm was asked to help in the back row, although they found it difficult to persuade Alistair and he came in a lot later.

   Malcolm continued with the organ, finishing the ABRSM grades for organ. The children have brought great musical pleasure, Lucy with competitive singing, where she won the cups for her teenage classes at both Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks festivals, and now teaches art. Alistair was the organ Scholar at Guildford Cathedral while studying for his music degree, and more recently is pursuing a keen interest in organ building as well as teaching; he is, of course, a well-known member of our KCOA.

   Alistair had been playing for the Oriana Singers for about a year on their visits to cathedrals, abbeys and churches, when Malcolm was asked if he would like to join as a tenor. He particularly enjoyed being able to sing in such wonderful settings and, of course, hear Alistair’s progress. Alistair was not available on a couple of occasions, one of which was to York Minster, and as there were four services to be played for, with three on a Sunday, the Music Director asked Malcolm if he would play the voluntaries for Matins. For Malcolm, it seemed strange sitting alone in the organ loft on a Saturday morning waiting for the guide to finish her explanation of the difference between a cathedral and a minster, before playing. Playing in the evening, when the Minster was empty, he found  it totally exhilarating hearing the music’s echoes rolling up and down the building after the final chord of the recessional, ‘Theme and Variations’  by Andriessen.

   With these wonderful opportunities and visits with our KCOA, Malcolm feels fortunate to have played so many fascinating organs, but still continues with his regular organist’s job playing his Cousans organ at Stonegate, close to where he lives at Wadhurst, East Sussex. Malcolm and Stephanie are now grandparents as their daughter, Lucy, gave birth to a baby girl, Lily, on 24 September 2011, just before our President’s Dinner; a possible future organist and KCOA member? With Malcolm’s enthusiasm and interest it is more than a possibility.

All Saints’ Maidstone.

The first of the 2012 Thursday Lunchtime Concerts will be given on 3rd May at 1.05 pm, and will end on 27th September with a recital by Dr David Flood.

Your support will be particularly welcome on 2nd August when there will be a joint recital given by Laurence Long and Guy Steed, both prize-winners in the 2011 KCOA Organ Festival. (Admission Free)

Martyn Noble - Canterbury Recital

The 2011 Organ Festival ADVANCED class was won by MARTYN NOBLE with an award of £200 and a recital in Canterbury Cathedral.

His recital will be on Friday 13th April 2012 6.15 p.m.

New Members

Simon Daniels (Tunbridge Wells)
Scott Farrell (DOM, Rochester Cathedral)
David Shuker (Ryarsh).
Nigel MacArthur (Sittingbourne)
Stephanie Curtis (Wadhurst)

Organ for Sale

3 manual and pedal (32 note pedalboard) electronic Conn Organ model 650

The organ is in excellent condition and played regularly by John Anstey until his passing.

Please contact: Audrey Anstey

Tel: 01732 359002

Photographs As marked
 

Sub Editors: Brian Moore & David Brock


"THE KENT COUNTY ORGANISTS' ASSOCIATION welcomes new members with an
interest in the organ and its music. Also those who enjoy visiting churches
with an appreciation of architecture and heritage. Membership of the Association
is not based on the ability to play; we welcome equally those who enjoy
listening, as well as those who enjoy playing
".