Rochester Cathedral, AGM &  St Margaret’s

Despite subliminal aversions to such meetings, thirty-five members attended our AGM at St Margaret’s Church, Rochester. With its commanding views of the River Medway, we were to discover a list of Rectors dating from 1272 and, John Newton, the renowned hymn writer and preacher, who was married here in 1750. Our President, Roger Gentry, skilfully guided us through the AGM formalities, electing officers and committee members; he also produced a revised constitution, which was unanimously approved. Our audited accounts, prepared by Treasurer, Kevin Grafton, were agreed together with reports from our President and Secretary. Barbara Childs gave a report on the 2008 Organ Festival asking members to garner as many young organists as possible for 2009. Our President thanked officers, committee and all those who had made the year such a success.

   Concluding the proprieties, evensong awaited us at the Cathedral where the girls’ choir and six lay clerks sang the service. The responses were by Shephard; Psalm 100 sung to a chant by Walmisley; Canticles, Walmisley in D minor and the Anthem was Turn thy face from my sins by Attwood. The Assistant Organist, Dan Soper, conducted the choir and Director of Music, Roger Sayer, played the organ. Roger’s voluntary was Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 545 by Bach, played with his customary consummate ease and musical clarity. The seventeen girls sang with an undoubted sweetness, although at times lacked strength to balance the men.

   Back at St Margaret’s Church, tea awaited and a chance to try the 1880 Forster & Andrews organ: Great, 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2; Swell, 8 8 8 8 4 8 8; Pedal, 16 16 with manual tracker action and electric pedals. St Margaret’s Alan Moss gave a talk on the history of the church and Douglas Henn-Macrae, Senior Cathedral Lay Clerk, gave a demonstration of an electronic Hoffrichter organ, which uses special computer software that samples the pipes of famous world-wide organs reproducing them through loudspeakers. Members were captivated and impressed with the results, although our resident organ tuner was perhaps less convinced. However, Douglas had kindly provided a fascinating conclusion to the day and our current season.



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