Kent County Organists’ Association
August 2011 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
Chatham St Barbara & Wigmore St Matthew
Boughton under Blean SS Peter & Paul, Hernhill St Michael
Leeds, Langley & Otham
Ramsgate: Augustus Pugin, William Whitehead & St Lawrence College
Canterbury & AGM
Evelyn Tinker, Canterbury Recital
Organ Festival 2011
Brian J Moore
Notes from the Netherlands
On completing his two years as President, Kevin Grafton can unquestionably look back with some satisfaction on a most successful period for our Association.
This year in particular has been packed with interest, starting with our trip to Bloomsbury in January, allowing members to enjoy the George Dallam 1678 organ at St Giles in the Fields. Chatham and Wigmore may not exude quite the same glamour, especially in February, but we heard two organs of merit and interest. In March, with a picturesque countryside on the cusp of an early spring, Boughton and Hernhill gave us ancient architecture and the delight of an untouched one manual and pedal Bevington organ. A fine recital, by Trevor Brearley, followed in April at Otham, before an exciting visit to Ramsgate in May with an outstanding recital by William Whitehead at St Lawrence College and a glimpse of Augustus Pugin’s recently restored house, with its sumptuous interior.
Our coach outing to Ely Cathedral in June, which included an action-packed organ demonstration, evensong and a talk by John Lawson Baker, proved particularly challenging to organise, but thanks to our President’s determination and hard work it was a most agreeable and memorable day. At Canterbury, in July, Kevin Grafton’s recital at St Mildred’s Church is one we will remember, bringing his Presidency to an impressive close and we sincerely thank him for his outstanding work over the past two years.
Richard Knight, our new President, will find Kevin a hard act to follow, although it must be said, he has started with a bustle of new ideas and plans. He has already booked Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Guildford Cathedral, as our President’s Dinner speaker on 24th September at Tunbridge Wells, and you will find more listed in our centre pages. The Association also benefits from an enthusiastic committee and supporting members: indeed, our annual Organ Festival would not have been conceived and successfully brought to fruition without the unremitting work of Barbara Childs.
However, at our meeting at Otham in April, our longest serving member, Deputy President, Brian Moore, was presented with a card and CD vouchers by our President in recognition of his remarkable service to our Association, which he joined as a schoolboy some sixty-two years ago. He continues to arrange meetings and is one of our most active members. His length of service, endurance and stoicism would qualify him, in Parliamentary terms, to be our ‘Father of the House’ or perhaps even a ‘Grandee’ if we had an upper chamber. Undoubtedly, his qualities are to be admired: his patience, dedication, loyalty, discretion, enthusiasm, courtesy and modesty, coupled with his wise counsel, which has guided our endeavours over the years, steering us from imperious paths of unrighteousness or impropriety. Brian’s interesting ‘short profile’ was originally published in our Journal of August 1997 and, as many may have missed it, we have reprinted it in full in this Journal in grateful recognition and thanks for his service to our Association over the years.
FOR OUR JANUARY 2011 meeting, a day was organised in the Bloomsbury area of London, and what an interesting and varied day it turned out to be! The weather was dry and relatively mild when compared with the bitter December we had endured. Twenty-seven intrepid members sallied forth for the Metropolis, mainly boosting the coffers of Southeastern trains as we made our varied routes to Bloomsbury Baptist Church, our first port of call. Most of us made it on time and were warmly greeted by Philip Luke the organist and choirmaster, as we partook of welcome refreshments.
Photo: C Clemence
We were now game for anything and Philip invited us to follow him up to the capacious balcony, where the organ resides resplendent either side of a large ‘west’ (in Anglican terms) window with its console some fifty feet away. Before demonstrating this extremely fine instrument, Philip explained that this imposing building was the first non-conformist church in a prominent position in London when it was founded in 1848, and was re-ordered in 1999. When built by Sir Samuel Peto MP, one of the great railway contractors, twin spires graced its edifice, but were demolished in 1951 when they were deemed unsafe. As far as the organ is considered, both “Father” Willis and T C Lewis had dealings with the original 20-stop 2-manual and pedals instrument. Further re-builds were undertaken by Brindley & Foster in 1914 and Hill, Norman and Beard in 1964, when the organ was located to its present position. At that time, provision was made for a third manual, but over the years it became increasingly unreliable and tonal deficiencies became more evident, leading to a re-evaluation of the instrument.
From 2006, this led to a major re-cycling bin project of which any council in our land would have been proud! To be more precise, it was two Binns organs brought together from redundant organs at Watford and Bolton which, now combined, has replaced the original Willis/Lewis organ. B C Shepherd Bros were the builders who undertook the work, which has compiled the largest and most comprehensive Binns in south east England. They’ve even incorporated a Polyphone, which we experienced on our last visit to Browne’s organ works, to provide wonderful gravitas. As we were to discover from Philip’s marvellously crafted and executed playing, the instrument gives a cohesive sound with many colourful ranks of charm and beauty and when called upon, a tremendous tutti, without being brash. His short recital included Prelude & Fugue in A minor (Bach); Deux Noels (Bedard); Chorale Prelude and Carillon (Wills).
Many of our members were “chomping at the bit” to be let loose and Philip was very generous in giving of his time and ever helpful in answering any questions that arose. We were also fortunate to have Eric Shepherd in our midst to fill in some of the background detail.
A generous lunch break followed, allowing members to partake of their own repast or to seek out one of the many eateries in the neighbourhood. A number took advantage of visiting Foyle’s in the vicinity. This period of the day was not without incident, as police arrived to deal with a shooting very close to St Giles in the Fields, our last visit of the day. However, at the appointed time, we were admitted to the Swiss Church and were met by Hilary Davan Wetton, who had recently relinquished his position as organist. He was formerly Head of Music at Tonbridge School. Hilary outlined the mission of the church, which holds 2 services a month for the Swiss community and those interested in Swiss culture, the sermons being preached in English and the liturgy in French and German. The venue is widely used for cultural purposes with a lively programme of recitals and concerts. The interior is a stunning symphony in wood, plaster and glass with the Späth organ occupying a gallery. It is a fully mechanical instrument of 2 manuals and pedal, by these Swiss builders based in Rapperswil. Hilary treated us to a short demonstration, playing pieces by Bach and Haydn.
Swiss Church, London
Photo: C Clemence
After some welcome tea, it was but a short stroll to our last venue, St Giles in the Fields. This church, built in the Palladian style in 1734, was previously founded in 1101 as a leper hospital by Queen Matilda. Did you know that this church was the last one on the road to the Tyburn Gallows? Not many people know that! It contains an old pulpit from which both John & Charles Wesley preached. Another point of interest was a memorial to Sir George Thomas Smart (uncle of Henry Smart), composer and one time organist of the Chapel Royal. As with our other venues, the organ resides in a gallery. Built by George Dallam in 1678, it was repaired by Christian Smith 1699, before being installed in the present building, with a new case, in 1734 by Gerard Smith the younger. Gray and Davison undertook a rebuild in 1856, later followed by some unfortunate 20th century work. Nevertheless the organ was fully restored with tracker action by William Drake in 2006. Jonathan Bunny is the organist and after his welcome, he gave us a fine rendition of Toccata in D by Buxtehude. After the usual time allowed for members to play, it was time to wend our way home and to reflect on a varied and absorbing day spent in London’s West End.
St. Giles in the Fields
Photo: C Clemence
Neither of the organs we visited at Chatham and Wigmore last 19 February has an unblemished pedigree; indeed, the 1965 ‘composite’ Browne of Canterbury organ at St Matthew’s Church, Wigmore could offer no genealogical lineage at all, being built primarily from old second-hand pipes. Nevertheless, both these instruments proved to be greater than the sum of their parts. The Forster & Andrews of 1874 at St Barbara’s Garrison Church, Chatham does still retain a good foundation of original work, although its last rebuild, by Willis in 1977, introduced many tonal changes in addition to electric action and a new console.
Before demonstrating the organ, Clive Robinson, St Barbara’s organist, gave us a short résumé of the church and its history, revealing that this Garrison church, built in 1854, had remained undedicated to any particular saint until 2002, when it was decided, finally, to dedicate it to St Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen and engineers.
Chatham St. Barbara Willis
Photo: C. Jilks
Seated at the organ, Clive immediately caught our attention with: Trumpet Tune in D by Stanley; Fidelis by Whitlock; Tune in E by Thalben-Ball; and March from the Occasional Oratorio by Handel. His engaging playing clearly displayed the organ’s appealing tonality, with the Forster & Andrews flutes strings and diapasons supplemented by colourful Willis mixtures and reeds. The Swell organ now includes a two rank sesquialtera with the Great organ boasting a 4ft spindle flute and a generous 8ft posaune, which is extended to the Pedal organ as a 16ft trombone. The full organ sound of this hybrid instrument provides a coherent whole, with Willis clarity blending with the warmer Forster & Andrews foundation. Its specification is now: Swell organ, 8 8 8 4 2 11 8 4; Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 11 8: Pedal organ, 16 8 8 4 2 16, with usual couplers including the Willis addition of Swell sub octave & super octave couplers. We were most grateful to Clive Robinson for his courtesy and enjoyable playing, and in extending his welcome to enable a number of members to try the organ for themselves.
St Matthew’s Church, Wigmore was built in 1965 and is architecturally typical of the period, with its unforgiving angular lines and proportions dividing the church into several well-defined spaces including a nave, transept, central altar and east-end chapel. The organ is built on a high platform set against the nave’s west wall with pipes arranged in chromatic ‘Festival Hall’ style lines of the period.
Wigmore St. Matthew
Photo: C. Jilks
Our Association visited St Matthew’s some nineteen years ago when our member, Doug Moutrie, was organist and, although now 90 years old and no longer the full time organist, is still looking young and spritely as he welcomed us to the church, giving us an introduction to the organ and demonstration of some of its finer tonal attributes. Its specification is: Great organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 4 22/3 2 8; Swell organ, 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 11 16 8 8; Pedal organ, 16 16 8 8 8 4 16 8, with usual couplers and electric action.
There is a great deal of extension and borrowing between the departments. Nevertheless, the organ contains some beguiling softer stops and an impressive ‘English’ full Swell, with an imposing organ tutti that is undeniably rich and exciting. It is known that the Great 8ft open diapason is by Holdich c1880 and the Pedal bourdon is from a similar period. The mixtures and smaller pipes were new in 1965, as was the Great 8ft trumpet, which was made in Holland. However, the final voicing has brought such seemingly disparate parts into an harmonious whole, producing a singing musicality that readily overcomes the building’s unsympathetic acoustic.
There was a generous tea awaiting us in the transept, but first, Andrew Cesana put the organ through its paces with several recital pieces, his programme was: Tuba Tune by C S Lang (1891-1971), Prelude in C major BWV 555 J S Bach, Songs of Praise Theme Herbert Chappell (in memory of Jackie Howard), Brideshead Variations Geoffrey Burgon (in memory of Vicky Shepherd), Carillon de Longport op 31 no. 21 Louis Vierne (1870-1937).
Following tea we were given an insight into some of the overseas Christian work undertaken by St Matthew’s church members in a talk by Paul Warren, who is a member of FROGS, a charity which undertakes work in Gambia. Interestingly, this is one of the smallest African countries being only 250 miles long and fifty miles wide, but has many schools which the charity are able to sponsor, helping with teaching aids and improved facilities. With his computer projector, Paul was able to show us pictures of some of the schools and children that have benefited from their work.
Chatham and Wigmore may not be blessed with the picturesque glamour of some of our venues, but, for those with a discerning ear, there had been much to appreciate and enjoy, lightening a cold, damp and dark February day.
ONE OF the delights of our Association meetings is visiting previously unexplored churches and organs, and Boughton under Blean and Hernhill proved to have been missed by many, even though the main Canterbury road runs close by. Boughton’s Parish Church of SS Peter & Paul is not helped by being totally separated from its village by the new A2 and is found a good half mile south of Boughton via a bridge and several narrow country lanes. Hernhill is less than a mile north of Boughton, again accessed by width restricted roads.
Nevertheless, rewards were great as, basking in unseasonably warm March sunshine, the rolling Kent countryside was on the very cusp of spring. We were welcomed to the ancient 13th century SS Peter & Paul’s Church by organist, Stuart Neame, who was eager to show off the recently rebuilt organ. This two manual and pedal instrument by Nicholson & Lord of Walsall dates from the 1880s and was first installed at Dover Methodist Church, before being transferred to Boughton in the late 1950s. It was originally a simple tracker action organ, with six Great stops and five Swell, set in the south transept. Seated at its attached console, the organist was undoubtedly cut off from the congregation and, Brownes of Canterbury were approached to undertake an assessment, resulting in a complete rebuild which included a new console, electric actions and several tonal additions.
Photo: C. Jilks
Built within the existing case, the organ now has new soundboards and a console set on the opposite side of the Chancel. In fact, Brownes used a well-made refurbished console from St Stephen’s Church, Chatham on grounds of cost; its familiarity being noted by Chris Clemence who was once a chorister at St Stephen’s. The Pedal organ has been enlarged and extended, as are the Swell and Great departments, together with a full complement of couplers. As the new electric action transmission is digital, Stuart Neame asked for a “midi” interface to be included, allowing the organ’s console to play electronically generated sounds through the church sound system. Using a computer, on which “Hauptwerk” sampled stops had been down loaded, thunderous 16ft reeds and scintillating mixtures could be added at will. Demonstrating, Stuart delighted in his new found freedom although, in truth, the electronic sounds seemed poorly blended and tuned with the real organ, the lingering artificial echoes only compounding the incongruities. Members found the technicalities intriguing, although not all were convinced of their true practicality. Nevertheless, the unadorned organ, if not tonally outstanding, is quite able to perform its function of leading the services and has a specification of: Great organ, 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 8 4: Swell organ, 8 8 4 2 8 8; Pedal organ, 16 8 8 51/3 4 4 8 8.
The Parish Church of St Michael, Hernhill is a building which, in spite of many changes, still exudes a certain 12th century charm, set overlooking the village green and Hernhill’s handsome Tudor beamed public house. Building renovations had been taking place at the church disturbing the resident belfry bats, one flying up and down the length of the church as we seated ourselves in the Nave. The organ, set rather claustrophobically in a chancel arch, is an untouched 1882 one manual and pedal Bevington which has been grade 1 listed by the British Institute of Organ studies. Unfortunately, the organ was shrouded in protective plastic sheeting allowing us only a glimpse of its stencilled and painted front pipes. However, Michael Brewer, who often plays the organ, gave us an enthusiastic appraisal of the instrument, demonstrating with a few short items. Its specification which, apart from the diapason, is enclosed in a Swell box is: Manual, 8 8 8 8 4 8 11; Pedal, 16 (13 notes) coupled to the manual. The organ sounded totally beguiling, a gem of English tonality, with a warm diapason underpinning its stopped diapason, bell gamba, principal and mixture. The 16ft pedal bourdon extends only from bottom C to middle C, although the flat radiating pedalboard continues for another octave, coupled to the manual. Members were able to try the organ for themselves allowing others to appreciate its warm limpid tones which permeated the building.
St. Michael Hernehill -
Photo: C. Jilks
Returning through the lengthening evening shadows to Boughton, tea awaited us at St Barnabas Church in the High Street. This is of late Victorian red-brick design, serving as much as a social venue as a church. It did have an organ, an unnamed, completely enclosed, 3-rank, two-manual and pedal extension organ, adequate for hymn singing but little more. Nevertheless, a fine tea lay in readiness, generously prepared by Boughton’s church members. Sandwiches and delicious cakes in infinite variety; the fruit cake, especially, with its delicate moist texture bursting with flavour, raised this tea well above the ordinary.
The afternoon concluded with a talk by Pam Renton, JP. who sits regularly on the Maidstone bench. She gave us an instructive insight into the historical, as well as the current, undertakings of a Magistrate. The title “Justice of the Peace” dates from 1361 and today 95% of criminal cases are conducted in Magistrate Courts. Surprisingly, no specific qualifications are required to become a Magistrate, although a comprehensive course of training is undertaken before being allowed to sit in judgement on fellow citizens. This had been a most interesting afternoon and we must thank Brian Adams for his help in arranging it; he assured us he had only been previously acquainted with Mrs Renton in a professional capacity.
Their close proximity, just a few miles south of Maidstone, allowed time to visit three churches and organs during the afternoon of 16 April without feeling rushed. The organs were vastly different: two Victorian tracker organs and a new pipeless instrument.
Although Leeds is famed for its castle, its Parish Church of St Nicholas, founded in Saxon times, must sport a longer lineage. The present building was originally Norman, but with much rebuilding and changes during the 17th century, followed by further restoration in the 19th century. Fortunately, a magnificent 15th century wooden rood screen survives, grandly spanning the full width of the church. Church Warden, Richard Reid, acquainted us with much historical church background before Deputy President, Brian Moore, who is a resident of Leeds, revealed the organ’s history. J D Dixon of Cambridge was undoubtedly a better organ builder than a business man, as regrettably his company fell into bankruptcy in 1884, the year following the installation of the organ at Leeds. Alas, details are lost in the mists of time, but his two-manual and pedal instrument at St Nicholas is certainly of interest in spite of having a rather heavy, although functional, mechanical action and a specification of: Great Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 8; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 118 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 with usual couplers. Interestingly, there is an 8ft celeste stop on the Great Organ, which we doubt is original. Sadly, however, not having a regular organist, the organ is little used and is tuned only once a year. The tuning was indeed very poor, although, demonstrating with Whitlock’s Fidelis from Four Extemporizations and Karg-Elert’s I thank Thee dearest Lord from 14 Choral improvisations, Brian extracted some attractive colour and character from this Victorian organ, his warmth of musical phrasing transcending the shortcomings of the instrument.
St. Nicholas, Leeds J. D.
Photo: C. Jilks
St. Nicholas, Leeds Dixon
Photo: C. Jilks
Only a short drive from Leeds, at St Mary’s Church, Langley, Anne Clinch was waiting to expand our knowledge of the church and its history. Listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086, the Anglo-Saxon church survived until the thirteenth century, when it was destroyed by fire. A new church was built and a tower added in 1350. This medieval church stood resolute and sound until 1854 when, on an unexplained whim of the Rector, the Revd William Bouverie, one of the founders of the Oxford Movement, it was razed to the ground and a new church built on its foundations; hundreds of years of history swept aside for what is now plain Victorian ubiquity. Nevertheless, it was the organ we had come to hear, built by J W Walker in 1894. Trevor Webb gave a detailed description of the instrument including early 20th century additions of a horn, principal and gamba. The gamba he considered to be quite useless, although an added Swell sub octave coupler was considered worthwhile. Its present specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4; Swell Organ, 8 8 4 2 8; Pedal Organ, 16, with usual couplers and mechanical action. The organ was demonstrated by Trevor Brearley with Choral Song by SS Wesley. The organ displayed a typical “Walker” tonality, which, although not strident, can be hard with full organ chorus. Softer stops had an attractive sweetness with some delightfully singing flutes and the gentle gamba, with its own individual character.
St Nicholas’ Church, Otham, like many churches, is some distance from its village, but with a detailed map, thoughtfully provided, we arrived in time for tea. Following tea, and the usual notices and announcements, a presentation was made to Brian Moore. Brian had not only arranged the complete afternoon for us, but has been involved in such undertakings for over sixty years, joining our Association as a schoolboy in the late 1940s. A presentation card, including CD vouchers, was made by our President to express our appreciation of Brian’s selfless dedication to the Association. (As a special tribute to Brian we have reprinted his “short profile”, first published in 1997, in this Journal).
St Nicholas, Otham has undergone major re-ordering during the past two years, with pews removed and replaced with chairs, and the choir now facing west. The organ was originally a small 2-rank extension instrument, totally enclosed and secured to a high wall. It played hymns, but little else and with limited funds it was decided to remove it and install a 2-manual and pedal Phoenix digital electronic organ. Its specification is generous with eleven Great stops, twelve Swell stops, and eight Pedal stops. There are the usual couplers together with a full range of playing aids; also switchable English and German voicing all delivered though chancel and west end speakers.
Trevor Brearley, St Nicholas’ organist, spoke glowingly of its abilities and demonstrated it with a recital of six contrasting works. Using the German voicing setting, he opened with Prelude Fugue and Chaconne by Dietrich Buxtehude, followed by Harold Darke’s Meditation on Brother James’ Air, after switching back to English voicing. Then a telling transcription, by Arthur Wills, of Gustav Holst’s Mars from The Planets, conjuring alien timbres from the organ, before a fun arrangement, by Trevor Webb, of Scott Joplin’s The Strenuous Life. Trevor Brearley’s recital finished with two French pieces: Olivier Messiaen’s Communion - Les oiseaux et les sources from Messe de la Pentecôte, and a little known, but tuneful, Toccata pour Grande Orgue, by Gaston Bélier. Trevor’s slick technique was much enjoyed, extracting infinite effects from the organ; Scott Joplin’s jazz rhythms were particularly suited to the instrument, the electronic pedal start transients coming into their own.
Undeniably, the organ’s total installation cost of £20,000 is remarkable, and its 2-manual and pedal, drawstop console is well built and comfortable to play. However, with its synthetic colours and artificial speech transients it left much to be desired, leaving some rather distressed, perhaps like Jeeves, who was quite overcome on observing horseshoes on Mr Little’s tie: apparently, our resident organ tuner had to lie down for a while on returning home.
But curmudgeonly comments aside, this had been a stimulating and enjoyable afternoon, thoughtfully and carefully arranged to embrace the full gamut of both the historical and contemporary, and we must thank Brian Moore for organising it for us.
Ramsgate: Augustus Pugin, William Whitehead & St Lawrence College
Ramsgate harbour, with its plethora of flamboyant boats, seafront cafés and majestically sweeping cliffs, presented an irresistible setting for our visit on 14 May. Also, set back from the waterfront, there is the delight of elegant Regency terraces, squares and the Gothic revival buildings by Augustus Pugin we had particularly come to see. Set high on the cliffs, with a clear view of the sea, the Grange was designed and built by Augustus Pugin in 1844 becoming his family home and workplace.
The building had become critically dilapidated until rescued and renovated in 2003-2006 by The Landmark Trust, supported by generous grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Thanet District Council and private individuals, returning the house, as near as possible, to its original condition. Our house guide, Catriona Blaker, a member of the Pugin Society, described how every remaining fragment of original wallpaper and panelling was used and faithfully copied to recreate the richly decorated unique interior now furnished with period furniture and suitable carpets. The floors of the hallway and chapel are the original Minton tiles.
St Augustine’s Abbey Church, adjoining The Grange, was also designed by Pugin although, with his death in 1852, the tower’s spire was never completed. It is a Catholic foundation as Pugin converted to Catholicism in 1835. Regrettably, its Compton organ has been silenced by a leaking roof allowing ingress of rain water on the blower and, with the remaining monks soon to move to Surrey, the future of the Abbey Church seems unsure, although it is now under the auspices of a nearby Catholic Church.
A ten minute walk along the cliff top promenade, descending to the foot of the cliffs, down a set of rather steep steps, took us to the Sailors’ ‘Smackboys’ Church, a fisherman’s chapel at the harbour’s edge. Built under the cliffs close to the water, this was an attractive scene and the church is normally open daily for visitors; alas, it was locked and, unable to gain entry, we were to be disappointed, leaving the many steps to be climbed before we could make our way to St Lawrence College for tea and a Celebrity Organ Recital by William Whitehead.
We were made most welcome by St Lawrence’s Director of Music, Paul Stubbings, who, chatting during tea in the library, spoke of the school’s foundation in 1879 and the chapel, completed in 1927. The organ, installed by F H Browne of Canterbury in 1969, replaced an earlier instrument by Norman & Beard, although its open case display and Neo Baroque tonal design incorporates five ranks from the original organ.
St. Lawrence College F. H.
Photo: C. Jilks
William Whitehead is well known to many KCOA members as he was Assistant Organist of Rochester Cathedral for four years. However, his solo organ-playing career was greatly enhanced by winning First Prize at the Odense International Organ Competition in Denmark in 2004. He trained at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music; his teachers have included David Sanger, James O’Donnell and Dame Gillian Weir. He gained valuable experience in his year as Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey where he played for services and sometimes conducted the choir. He is a Lecturer at the Royal College of Music, taking up the position as Director of Music at St Mary’s Bourne Street, London. William travels the world playing organ concerts and giving master-classes. He gave his Royal Albert Hall début playing the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony with the New Queens Hall Orchestra under Ivor Setterfield; he has also made a recording of Edwardian music on the Herald label.
His recital programme at St Lawrence College was wide ranging, with music from the 17th century to the contemporary. He opened with Prelude, Tierce en Taille and Dialogue from Suite du Second Ton sur le Magnificat by Jean-Adam Guilain c.1680-1739. Then Wir Glauben all an einen Gott BWV 681 by J S Bach 1685-1750 followed by two pieces commissioned for the Orgelbüchlein project: Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns halt by Cecilia McDowall b.1951 and Lob sei Gott in Himmels Thron by Jeremy Thurlow b.1967.
William Whitehead with
Rosemary and Chris Clements
Photo: C. Jilks
Returning to Bach with Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist BWV 671, he followed with Choral Song and Fugue by Samuel Sebastian Wesley 1810-76. William then returned to the twentieth century with three movements: Allegretto, Modéré, Comme une Marche from 24 Pièces pour Harmonium ou Orgue by André Fleury 1903-95. The recital came to an inspiring finish with five movements from Animal Parade by Ian Farrington b.1977: Entrance, Giraffes, Barrel Organ Monkey, Sparrows and Exit. Ian had taken Saint-Saëns The Carnival of the Animals as his inspiration for this appealing work, which colourfully portrayed the whimsical gangling gait of a giraffe out for an afternoon stroll, a barrel organ monkey’s fairground frolics and fluttering sparrows seemingly twittering amongst the organ pipes.
William’s playing was a delight, an engaging recital delivered with effervescence and wit, playing that has that rare quality of transparency and phrasing which allows the listener immediate access to the music, unencumbered by distractions of bravado or flashy technique.
The organ, by F H Browne of Canterbury, produced bright clear Neo Baroque choruses — fashionable in the late 1960s — with Swell and Great reeds retaining a satisfying English fullness, all underpinned by a secure warm Pedal section. Great and Swell departments are set in a north chancel chamber with a mirror image Choir and Pedal open case display on the south side. Its specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 4 22/3 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 1 11 16 8 4: Choir Organ, 16 8 4 22/3 2 2 13/5 11/3 11 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 102/3 8 8 8 4 4 16 8 4, with usual couplers. The Swell 16 8 4 reeds are extended from one rank as are a number of Pedal stops, although Choir mutations are straight.
This is a fine organ suitable for a wide range of music, but can suffer from uncomfortable tuning problems during the late afternoon. The grand spacious chapel, blessed with clear high windows, unfortunately allows piercing shafts of sunlight to penetrate and move, with sundial-like precision, across the Great Organ’s pipes which, in mid-May, has its greatest effect at 6.15 p.m. — regrettably, the recital did not finish until 6.30 p.m. Nevertheless, William’s playing proved so captivating, many may not have noticed. We are most grateful to William Whitehead and Paul Stubbings for a wonderful afternoon and, of course, Barbara Childs who brought the whole Ramsgate visit together for us.
Under billowing Constable skies, our contingent of forty-five members and friends arrived in Ely on 18 June in good time for our arranged tour of the Cathedral. Separating into two groups, one was conducted by David Kimble, originally from Rainham, Kent, whose knowledge of Ely and its Cathedral seemed infinite as he guided us for a full hour the length and breadth of the Cathedral; the second group were equally well guided by a resident lady guide.
Set on a primeval fertile island in the fens, Ely was founded by Etheldredae in 673. With the arrival of the Normans in 1070 the present cathedral building began in 1080, taking a hundred years to complete the nave; the chancel and choir began only forty years later, in 1220, exploiting the new pointed arch architectural design bestowing its more modern character. The Norman tower collapsed in the 14th century and was replaced with Ely’s unique wooden Octagon Lantern Tower. The painting of the Cathedral’s spectacular nave roof is the work of Thomas Parry, father of Sir Hubert Parry, and it adorns the fourth longest nave in England.
After time for lunch and a glimpse of the High Street, we assembled in the Cathedral Centre for a talk by John Lawson Baker entitled “The life of an amateur composer”. Before he retired and moved to Ely in 1999, John was a member of our Association and sang as a supernumerary Alto in Rochester Cathedral choir. His music is extensive and, together with a number of recorded illustrations, he spoke amiably about his work fielding innumerable questions from an interested audience. We were fortunate to find that evensong was to include a psalm chant, an anthem and a hymn tune by John.
Ely Cathedral - North Transept
Ely Cathedral - the nave looking west
Ely Cathedral - the nave looking east
Ely Cathedral - Choir and Organ
Ely Cathedral - Choir and Organ Triforium
Ely Cathedral - Scott organ case
There remained time for tea, some in the Cathedral Centre, some in the Cathedral tea rooms, before we assembled in eager anticipation in the Cathedral choir for an organ demonstration by Assistant Organist Jonathan Lilley. The organ was originally by Elliot & Hill, built in the 1830s set on the Cathedral’s original stone choir screen, although with the redesign of the choir by Gilbert Scott some twenty years later, William Hill rebuilt the organ within Scott’s late mediaeval designed “hanging” case in 1851 including the now fashionable manual C compass and a 16ft pedal open diapason. Further additions were made in 1867 completing the proposed 1849 design, increasing the pedal section to six stops.
However, by the turn of the century, this 1851/67 Hill organ had become badly worn and in 1906 a new organ was commissioned from Harrison & Harrison; this comprised sixty-nine stops, significantly larger than the William Hill thirty-nine stop instrument it was to replace; it was inaugurated in October 1908. A few Hill stops were retained in the new organ which had spread into the adjoining north triforium. Interestingly, Jonathan Lilley demonstrated a stopped diapason from the old organ for us, its liquid tones still sounding unmistakably Hill.
Jonathan’s demonstration systematically illustrated the organ’s many departments, clearly exhibiting individual solo stops and choruses; the unenclosed solo tuba and orchestral trumpet leaving their indelible mark on us. He concluded this fascinating and revealing presentation with the first movement of Elgar’s Organ Sonata, which was particularly well-paced and enjoyable, musically illuminating the organ’s crisp clear tonality, its splendours gloriously filling the cavernous building.
We were most grateful to Jonathan for this introductory tour of this fine instrument, which then allowed us time to appreciate the choir’s Evensong rehearsal, with the choir of 17 boys and 10 men conducted by Paul Trepte, Ely’s Organist and Director of Music.
Choral Evensong followed very shortly and, as the choir processed in their radiant scarlet cassocks and white surplices, the service opened with some strikingly resonant Preces: Paul Trepte’s Edington Responses; interestingly and unusually the collects were later intoned with an organ accompaniment of progressive and resolving chords. The psalms set for the evening were 93 and 94, sung to chants by Peter Hurford and John Lawson Baker. Psalm singing is an art form in itself, different cathedrals evolving their distinctive styles and, unquestionably, the sound of Ely’s choir was one of purity and balance. However, their penchant for surgically clipped verse endings, including the organ, became irritatingly predictable after twenty-three verses of psalm 94.
Nevertheless, the canticles sung on plainsong tones by Arthur Wills were especially enjoyable, using the alternating and contrasting unison voices of men and boys, their limpid tones caressing the cathedral vaulting. The Nunc Dimittis was particularly telling, culminating in a full choir climax, then its final major chord ‘amen’ resolving to a spine tingling ethereal pianissimo.
The anthem, Cherubic Hymn, with words and music by John Lawson Baker, demonstrated John’s distinctive style of moving thirds set on a sustained pedal point bass from the men, the melodic boys’ parts creating a wash of delicate, expressive beauty. Following the prayers, the final hymn was Great God our threefold gift of unity, words by John Beer, set to the tune Archdeacon’s, by John Lawson Baker, which has a traditional feel but reflects John’s individual style.
The service concluded with a stunningly fluent performance of Hymne d’Action de Grâce: Te Deum by Langlais, displaying to the full the seemingly infinite resources of this Harrison & Harrison muscle machine.
This had been an agreeable and engrossing day, which we pondered and relived as our coach trundled back to Kent. We are greatly indebted to our President, Kevin Grafton, who had expended much time and energy in arranging this unforgettable day for us.
Canterbury & AGM
Our AGM at St Mildred’s Church, Canterbury, on 16th July, was swiftly and efficiently executed. Our President, Kevin Grafton, gave a fluent and detailed report on a successful past year and, as treasurer, informed us that Association funds had held steady together with a small increase of membership to 105, with five honorary members. Our Secretary mentioned notification for teas at meetings and Barbara Childs gave a brief report on the Organ Festival.
Having completed his two full years as President, Kevin handed on the Presidential baton to President Elect, Richard Knight, who now joins with our serving Treasurer, Kevin Grafton, Secretary, Rosemary Clemence, and three Deputy Presidents: Brian Moore, Andrew Cesana and Colin Jilks. Also, two new committee members were elected: Peter Hart and Nicholas King, replacing Rob Miller and Richard Knight following their three years’ service.
With formalities completed, we braved wind and rain to attend evensong at the Cathedral, which was the last before the choir broke for their summer recess. With a full congregation seated in hushed readiness we particularly enjoyed Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat played by the new assistant organist, David Newsholme, whose clean controlled playing encompassed the whole service. Dr David Flood smiled as he conducted the opening responses by Shephard, beautifully sung by the choir of 16 boys and 12 men, their voices blending smoothly like cream in coffee. The four psalms for the day were delivered with clear diction and a carefree effervescence, enjoying verse endings with the traditional Canterbury flourish.
The Canticles were perhaps unusual, the Magnificat by Giles Swayne was sung in Latin, a cappella to colourful multifarious African chants and cross rhythms, a difficult piece strikingly executed. The Nunc Dimittis was more conventional with lush English harmonies from Gustav Holst. The anthem, Mendelssohn’s Ave Maria, enjoyed his archetypal ever flowing melodies and harmony and following the hymn, When morning guilds the skies, David Newsholme’s voluntary, Jehan Alain’s Litanies, brought the service to a fitting close, demonstrating the organ’s resources to the full.
Under clearing skies we returned to St Mildred’s for a tea that provided delicious cakes and sandwiches in a quality and quantity to satisfy even the most ardent connoisseur, ensuring we were ready for Kevin Grafton’s close of Presidency recital. Kevin’s wide ranging programme explored every aspect of the Brownes of Canterbury late Victorian organ. The instrument was moved from Herne Bay to St Mildred’s in 1906 and last rebuilt in 1982 with electric action and a specification of: Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 2 8 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 8 8 4 16 8, with generous couplers and pistons.
Kevin started with a rousing March from Things to Come by Sir Arthur Bliss, followed by Maurice Greene’s Andante and Allegro from Voluntary x111. Returning to the 20th century he played Fountain Reverie by Percy Fletcher and St Bride, assisted by angels by Judith Bingham. Then another modern piece, Interlude (to the memory of David Sanger) by Flemming Chr. Hansen, with a singing Great flute melody over an arpeggio string accompaniment. William Mathias’ familiar rhythms were displayed in Carillon before a restful Sunset at West Loatmead, from South and West Suite by Barry Ferguson.
Then to conclude, three familiar pieces: Henry Purcell’s Minuet and Rondeau from Abdelazer; Adagio in E by Frank Bridge and a rousing Festival Toccata by Percy Fletcher excitingly demonstrating the amply proportioned Pedal trombone and Great trumpet, bringing Kevin’s enjoyable recital and an action-packed afternoon at Canterbury to a satisfying close. We must thank Philip and Susan Cheetham for arranging it for us.
Evelyn Tinker, Canterbury Recital
by Philip Cheetham
The congregation in the Cathedral crypt on St. John the Baptist’s Day (Friday 24th June) may have been disappointed to find that, most unusually, Evensong was only a “said” service – the Cathedral choir being away for a concert in the Netherlands. They had, however, only to go upstairs afterwards to hear some splendid organ music.
Evelyn Tinker opened her prize-winner’s recital with a masterly performance of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543. Played with sensitivity and precision, her well-chosen registration revealed the counterpoint with perfect clarity. This was followed by two more reflective pieces. Pastorale by Peter Racine Fricker suggested an idyllic scene with perhaps a solitary shepherd playing his reed-pipe. The same tranquil mood was reflected in Vierne’s Andantino, performed with great delicacy and again making effective use of the softer voices of the Cathedral organ.
To complete her recital, Evelyn Tinker played Duruflé’s Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, with its haunting motif reminiscent of a Litany, and the dazzling conclusion to the Fugue, which so well displayed this young musician’s wonderful virtuosity.
We were left in no doubt that our competitive Organ Festival is a most worthwhile enterprise and that the 2010 prize-winner, who had given the large audience such pleasure, thoroughly deserved her success.
Organ Festival 2011
by Barbara Childs
The 6th Organ Festival is on the nearing horizon. Last year’s winner Evelyn Tinker has given her recital in Canterbury Cathedral and we look forward to welcoming new and previous competitors on Saturday 15th October.
Dr David Flood has, yet again, agreed to adjudicate and our Patron, Margaret Phillips, is promoting the competition wherever she can.
Now we need all our members to search out and persuade young organists; to help display flyers and brochures and, we hope, to become Friends of the Festival, which is such a tremendous help to our overall finances.
The Class Awards are sponsored and their great contribution enables us to offer generous prizes.
The Festival starts at 2.00 pm in All Saints Church, Mill Street, Maidstone and the ‘5-star’ tea, under the guidance and hard work of Elizabeth Marchant will be at 4.15pm followed with a recital given by Evelyn Tinker at 5.00 pm.
Do put the date in your diaries and come along to listen, to enhance this KCOA initiative and support the young people. They are our future!
2010 Festival Contestants
with Dr. David Flood
Photo: C. Jilks
Brian J Moore
A short profile - 1997
Brian Moore’s connection with the County Town of Maidstone began, perhaps, before he was born. Born at Dover on the 16th February 1934, where his family lived, his father commuted daily by train to Maidstone working in the offices of Bradley, Taylor & Youngman, corn and seed merchants. Young Brian started school at Dover, but as “The storm clouds were gathering over Europe”, he was uprooted from Dover to move to Maidstone with his family to avoid the war time shelling. He attended schools at Leeds, (where he now lives) Thurnham and Bearsted.
At the end of the war Brian returned to Dover with his family, attending Dover County Grammar School from 1945 to 1951. Starting piano lessons at the age of eleven, he was immediately interested in the organ after hearing the organ at St. Mary’s Church, Dover. He was fortunate to have organ lessons under his music master Mr. S.F. Willis on the school organ, eventually becoming the Deputy School Organist. Even at the age of fourteen Brian was very tall, long legs were perhaps an asset on the pedalboard.
He played for his first church service, at this young age, at Tilmanstone Parish Church and was then assistant organist and choirmaster at St. Mary in the Castle, Dover. At age fifteen he was appointed organist and choirmaster at Temple Ewell. His musical life was very broad, playing the violin and then the double bass in the school orchestra. As well as playing, he was inspired by the regular organ recitals at Dover Town Hall. The Borough organist was then F. W. Baggley, followed by Wilfred Holland and John Stainer, grandson of Sir John Stainer. Brian also visited Canterbury Cathedral to hear Marcel Dupré, meeting Virgil Fox there.
With his family connections at Maidstone, he had heard of Kenneth Turner, organist of All Saints’ Church; Brian went along to Matins and was shown to his seat by Mr. Warriner. Introducing himself to Freddie Rowles, the assistant organist, Brian’s first subscription to the KCOA was paid by Mr. Rowles making Brian, not far off, one of our founder members. It was about this time, 1948 or 1949 Brian is not sure which, the KCOA had a coach outing to Cambridge. This entailed a very early train from Dover to Maidstone to meet the coach outside the Archbishop’s Palace.
Brian also helped organize a KCOA visit to his school, Dover County Grammar in 1950, when Reg Adams gave a brilliant improvisation on Ye Holy Angels Bright. On leaving school in 1951 Brian moved with his family to Maidstone. He started work at the Maidstone Borough Library and became organist and choirmaster at St. Peter’s Church.
National Service soon followed and he joined the RAMC at the training Depot, Church Crookham, Hants. Brian had an interest in medical matters, but alas was assigned to clerical duties. He did rise to the rank of Sergeant, the height of six foot four, and had responsibility for the catering administration for a thousand men, as well as playing at the Garrison church.
Brian returned to Maidstone as organist at St. Peter’s Church in 1954, moving on to St. Mary’s Church, Lenham in 1956. Boxley Parish Church followed in 1958, a post held until 1961. He was organist at Ulcombe Parish Church 1962 to 1969, and during 1966, he organized a KCOA meeting at Staplehurst Parish Church. He had already served on the committee and became Treasurer to the KCOA in 1968, following Mr. G.A. Jessup. This came about when Gerald Knight whom Brian had known since his school days visiting the organ loft at Canterbury, turned to him and asked if he could count. Not knowing quite why he had asked, he answered in the affirmative and the job was his. He handed this on, after eleven years, to Fred Ash in 1979.
Photo: C. Jilks
He was the Conductor of the Ulcombe Singers from 1969 to 1981 as well as assistant organist and choirmaster at All Saints’, Maidstone 1970 to 1978. St. Michael’s Church, Sittingbourne was his next appointment as organist and choirmaster, 1978 to 1982 during which time, December 1981, he married his wife Jean. He was invited back to All Saints’, Maidstone as assistant organist in 1983 and is still there! Notable playing occasions included two “Songs of Praise” services and a number of Civic services. During this time Brian was also conductor of The Freegard Singers, 1988 to 1993.
He has also had an absorbing interest in the harpsichord. His brother Geoffrey was an excellent harpsichord maker and, taking some of the fine instruments to concert venues, Brian accompanies singers and instrumentalists. Brian’s organ career has included playing for services at the Cathedrals of Canterbury, Rochester, Southwark, Chichester, Portsmouth, Ely, Lichfield, Guildford, St. Paul’s and St. George’s Chapel Windsor. He has been our President twice, 1972-73 and 1991-93; also having served on the committee many times he is now honoured to be a Deputy President.
His work has taken him from the Library at Maidstone to the offices of paper makers at Aylesford, London, Gravesend and then Bowaters of Sittingbourne which became U.K. Paper: quite a long paper chase! He finally retired in May 1997.
Brian says he has no musical qualifications, but just a brief glimpse at his musical career shows he is indubitably more qualified than most. This is perhaps the measure of the man, whose gracious modesty hides an untold wealth of musical knowledge and experience. Our association is indeed privileged and greatly indebted to him for sharing just some of this with us over so many years.
Notes from the Netherlands
by Nigel C.B. Durrant
Patrick Moore once told the story on television of an elderly lady who was unable to understand how, whenever new planets or stars are discovered, ‘we immediately know what their name is’. These appellations do indeed derive from the most divergent sources – I am referring of course to the popular names – so it is often a matter of conjecture how the star’s name should be pronounced. To illustrate what I mean with an example fairly close to home I would remind readers of the theory that suddenly popped up some decennia ago that the earth actually had two moons. Our newly discovered companion genuinely exists; it orbits the earth once every 770 years (the perigee, for the next few years, being every November). The body’s name is cruithne and, though it is now recognized that cruithne is in fact not a moon, this does not make its pronunciation any more accessible to those of us unversed in Celtic phonology. And so with names of organ builders (and composers, and artists, and sanitary inspectors; these good people turn up in many parts of the world to do their thing and their names will not usually be difficult for the people for whom they ply their trade). Who built the organ in the Royal Albert Hall? Enthusiasts in most of Europe will shout out the answer. But if a name does not roll off the tongue easily it will surely be forgotten, and with it the person it applies to. Who built the organ in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw? ‘Uhm … I read it when I was there but those foreign names are all so alike.’
The Maarschalkerweerd Company (which built said Concertgebouw organ) spans exactly 100 years of Dutch organ building. It was based in the middle of the country, in Utrecht. Pieter Maarschalkerweerd had learned the craft as an apprentice in the renowned Bätz workshop and started an independent organ building factory in 1840, together with one Christiaan Stulting with whom he parted company after about eight years – it would appear that there were serious differences between their religious views. He continued for some time independently and there are still at least two of his organs from this period in existence. A big development came after 1860. In that year Pieter’s son Michaël completed his studies (as hydraulic engineer) and sometime later – it is not known exactly when – he had joined his father’s company which from 1865 onwards continued with great success under the name Maarschalkerweerd en Zoon, even after 1915 when Michaël died and his widow kept the concern alive. (Father Maarschalkerweerd died in 1882.)
Change the names and this would in essence be the story of many similar companies on the mid 19th century Netherlandish organ landscape. From its inception the Maarschalkerweerd Company was very much rooted in Dutch traditions but French influences soon came to the fore in its organs, to no small extent by way of Cavaillé-Coll. These influences in turn gradually became overshadowed by German characteristics, both tonally and mechanically. The techniques of F.I. Weigle were quickly incorporated into the work of Maarschalkerweerd from whom he even bought a number of ready-made consoles with their characteristic stop-keys: these are placed, like half-developed manual keys, on each side of the player.
In an article in the Utrechts Dagblad in 1890, Michaël’s whole staff paid a glowing tribute to their patron. The author of this article spoke without reservation of the employees’ sincere affection for their boss; the personnel were dedicated to both their works and its owner. The article was published to mark the 25th anniversary of Maarschalkerweerd en Zoon and in an interview at this time with the same newspaper Michaël made the following assertion: The greatest secret in successfully combining instruments is the harmony between the individual sounds. The author of the article took up this theme and added that the same perfect harmony is to be found between Michaël Maarschalkerweerd and his staff and also between the staff-members amongst themselves.
It is perhaps interesting here that J. Stinkens, who set up a still very successful dedicated pipe manufacturing company in 1915-1917, started his career with Maarschalkerweerd.
Halfway through the 19th century there were serious riots in The Netherlands against the re-introduction of the (catholic) Dutch Church Province, fired by protestants and politicians alike, who believed that the country should remain essentially Calvinist; things came to a head in the 1853 aprilbeweging. But the reforms were carried out and the building of new Roman Catholic (in most cases neo-gothic) churches, all of which would require an organ, continued with a vengeance in the second half of the century. Despite the resulting huge numbers of contracts there was, in the northern half of our county, just one organ builder who came into consideration for catholic churches: Maarschalkerweerd. (A stone’s-throw away from Maarschalkerweerd’s works were the organ builders Witte, who were essentially involved with protestant organs. Mutual relations between these two companies were excellent and when Witte died his widow effectively put responsibility for the company and its work in progress unreservedly into Maarschalkerweerd’s hands). Michaël’s son was not an organ builder but the company continued with its name unchanged until it ceased trading at the beginning of the Second World War, though not building new organs. Organ building in our country had by then reached an all-time low, which would continue until the Orgelbewegung had rooted itself into Dutch soil. Most instruments were being constructed from prefabricated parts – pipes, windchests, consoles etc. If there is perhaps a tendency in this direction to be observed in some of the later organs by Maarschalkerweerd, this is to a very limited extent.
Recently there was a concert on ‘my’ two-manual and pedal Maarschalkerweerd that dates from 1906. This instrument is tonally and mechanically fully authentic; only the pedalboard has been changed. A single glance at the console will establish that the organ is constructed with Weigle pneumatics but the very slight lag merely adds character to the instrument. The sumptuous plenum sounds on the hoofdwerk made the interpretation of Bach, Buxtehude and a tribute to Georg Böhm (born 350 years ago) in this concert thoroughly convincing, while the rest of the programme was built up of shorter pieces by M.E. Bossi, Lennox Berkeley, Denis Bédard and William Mathias. Each of these coaxed charming and subtly individual sounds from both manuals.
Jacqueline Diane Howard BA
13th May 1966 – 29th January 2011
It was with great sadness that we recorded the untimely death of Jackie in our February 2011 Journal. Following an earlier committal, a Thanksgiving Service was held for her on 22nd February at Christ Church, Milton-next-Gravesend.
Jackie was closely associated with the music at Christ Church, and before the service we heard her playing on a CD recorded in November 2009 as part of a church project. Father Joe King, a former Vicar of Christ Church and a family friend of long standing, paid tribute to her committed Christian faith, and her courage in the face of illness. He also touched on her love of animals and birds, and her sense of humour. At the end of the service we listened to a CD of Jackie accompanying herself and singing Abide with Me and then playing the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The presence of a very large congregation, including KCOA members, was a tribute in itself to the high regard in which she was held.
Photo: Joan Howard
Jackie grew up in Gravesend and went to Gravesend Grammar School for Girls. At the age of 9 she had her first music lessons with David Sisterson at St. Aidan’s Church, and then went on to have organ lessons with Joe Levett and Paul Hale at Rochester Cathedral. By the age of 14 she was playing at St. Paul’s, Gravesend, and St. Mark’s, Rosherville, but at 17 she started her long association with Christ Church, although her work prevented her from taking full charge of the music there. She also sang in several local choirs, and before she first became ill she was studying for the RCM diploma in singing.
Her part time professional studies led to a BA in housing administration and a diploma from the Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. For many years she worked for the Gravesend Housing Association, and was then bursar at Wilmington Grammar School before joining Caxtons as finance officer.
Jackie joined the KCOA in 1986, and with her mother, Joan, frequently attended our meetings until recent times. We will all have our own particular memories of her. Not long after she joined, Gary Tollerfield arranged a meeting at St Mary’s Platt when Jackie was one of three young organists who took part in a recital.
Brian Moore recalls her at Peterborough Cathedral in June 1994, when she slipped off her shoes and gave a very crisp performance of the Bach Prelude in G major (Novello Book 2) , with its very busy pedal part. Also, she played for us at All Saints’, Maidstone, in February 1998, in a programme of her favourite pieces, ending with Herbert Chappell’s theme for television’s Songs of Praise. Brian Adams particularly remembers accompanying her at the buffet supper held in the Baptist Church Hall, Faversham, in September 2000, when she sang songs by Mozart, Purcell and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Our 2001 AGM was held in July at Christ Church, Gravesend, when after two years of quietly and highly efficiently carrying out her duties, Jackie passed on the job of secretary to Rosemary Clemence. In view of Jackie’s liking for cakes it is no surprise to read in the report of the meeting that a fine tea of delicious sandwiches and cakes was provided by Jackie, her mother and her sister Jenny, with her two charming little daughters!
We will remember Jackie with great affection and as Father King said at the service, we give thanks for her happy and fulfilled life.
by Gary Tollerfield
Our coach outing in June took us to Ely Cathedral, a wonderful building with its unique carpentry octagonal lantern tower. The Victorian restoration of the building was carried out under the direction of the architect Gilbert Scott, as were the cathedrals of Rochester, Chester, Ripon, and here at Ely, where he also designed a new organ case in the Gothic revival style of the period.
The Ely case of 1851 was Gilbert Scott’s first for a cathedral, and is generally acknowledged to be his best. Its design was clearly much influenced by the 1489 Gothic case in Strasbourg Cathedral, which Scott must have seen on a European tour.
The main case, with two towers and three flats, is well proportioned and in true spikey Gothic style topped by crockets and angels. The towers have carved pipe shades, which nicely conceal the tops of the pipework. (Did anyone notice the collapsing pipe in the right hand tower?) The design does, however, leave the tops of the pipes in the flats exposed, thus in danger of creating the effect of a pipe screen, which may have concerned Scott as he has added an individual medieval gold crown to each pipe. Compare that effect with the simulated “chair” case, which is beautifully done, (very similar to Strasbourg) and where pipe shades finish off all pipe compartments. The two cases come together well to make a very exciting design, which is further enhanced by the polychromatic pipe decoration.
This Ely case of 1851 is all the more remarkable, because the unadorned pipe-rack front was then the current fashion. As stated by Clutton and Niland in The British Organ, Gilbert Scott must be given credit for designing organ cases which were far better than the general run of his day.
& cream cakes
SIR: Following the news in the February 2011 Journal, I certainly think a big word of appreciation should go to Gary Tollerfield for all his work over the years to record all the instruments we have visited. I have many recollections of him patiently waiting behind to get his splendid photographs after all the hungry members had vanished for tea, and wondered how many cream cakes he must have missed as a result!
I had quite forgotten playing for Dr and Mrs Somer’s wedding, but it was over 40 years ago. In fact, I don’t recollect having many weddings at St Mary Bredin, though the church was always packed in the morning and well filled at night. Perhaps they were all living in sin?
I remember at one carol service we had the choir and congregation singing “Of the Father’s love” in canon. It was only then, I told the vicar, that I discovered whose side he was on!
I’m afraid I get little church music here — the standard at the Cathedral is awful — not only what they sing, but how they sing it — and everybody wanders about all the time and the so-called procession is a travesty of anything meaningful. I wonder anyone goes. We have to wait until the summer to hear any decent visiting organists.
It is quite extraordinary, as they have a big conservatoire in Laon where they do a lot of instrumental teaching — but then what can you do with 30 Clarinettists? I heard a concert last year given by 24 Double Basses! Who wrote any music for 24 Double Basses? You couldn’t call it a concert so much as an experience. They don’t seem able to produce a decent orchestra like so many English schools. Still, they can cook, and I get delicious fresh meals handed through my window every day — so all is not loss.
Sir: It has been brought to my notice that your excellent and enthusiastic Kent Organists Association website mentions in its obituary of Peter Cameron that I was a pupil of him: this is quite incorrect. Although I was an ‘academic’ pupil at St Edmunds, Canterbury, my music lessons were not there but in London — those in organ with H. A. Bate. The cathedral choir apart, St Edmunds had no part in my development.
The confusion is probably because I played at Peter’s funeral; I would, however, appreciate a suitable alteration and correction.
Browne and Sons Organ builders
SIR: On our 140th anniversary we are opening our workshops for public viewing on 2nd and 3rd September 2011.
The Old Cartwright School, Ash, Canterbury, Kent. Tel: 01304 813146
Nicholas King MA, MusB, FRCO(CHM), FRCM, FGCM
A short profile
Nicholas King joined our Kent Association in 1973 and has continued his membership, keeping a close interest in our activities, since moving from Kent in 1979. Born on 23rd December 1949, he was brought up in Folkestone during austere post war times; indeed, Sir Stafford Cripps, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had devalued Sterling by 30% only three months earlier and the cost of a 4d loaf had quickly risen to 6d. Nevertheless, the family, including Nicholas’ younger brother, settled in a council property and acquired a piano, even though neither of his parents seemed particularly musical. However, he did have an uncle who played the organ at Rolvenden and his mother often dabbled in amateur dramatics.
Nicholas showed early musical promise and his mother remembers he was picking out tunes on the piano at the age of eighteen months. He attended St. Eanswythe’s primary school in Folkestone and joined the choir of Folkestone Parish Church on Advent Sunday 1958 under Reg Adams. He was also learning the piano with Rae Thurlow as he progressed to Harvey Grammar School in 1961, promptly finding himself in Reg Adams’ bottom-stream form 1D. It seems there were two boys with the same surname and, after a week, Nicholas was quickly transferred to the top stream 1A, with a corresponding relegation for his unwitting doppelganger.
He was, at the time, progressing well with the piano, making a mark locally by taking the Elizabeth Peverley Rose Bowl in the open class at the Kent Music Festival at the age of twelve, against much older competition, and also being awarded 98% by Freddie Skinner on one occasion in a sight-singing class. Nicholas also played for school assemblies when Reg Adams was unwell for a while, and memorably accompanied a school performance of Messiah before gaining a Music Scholarship to The King’s School, Canterbury. He was placed with Ronald Smith for piano; but the school was adamant that he must drop the organ, which he had started with Reg prior to the move to King’s.
However, Nicholas continued playing the organ when he was away from school and commuted daily from Folkestone, staying in Canterbury on Saturday nights for the school service in the cathedral on Sunday mornings, before travelling back to Folkestone for Evensong at the Parish Church. Thankfully, by 1965 the school finally conceded that they had an outstandingly talented young organist in their midst and he was placed under the care of Allan Wicks: within a year he took the top prize in ARCO and the organ became his clear career choice.
Nicholas King at the console
of the RCM organ
Photo: David Harpham
He remembers The King’s School with affection having a thriving music department at the time under Edred Wright, with impressive colleagues from the choir school, including Stephen Varcoe, Harry Christophers, Andrew Lyle and many others. Nicholas spent a lot of time in the cathedral, either practising in the Eastern Crypt, or up in the loft during services where, from time to time, Allan Wicks would put him at the console, usually without warning. He gained the organ scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by FRCO, but was disappointed to get only second prize; the first prize went to Stephen Cleobury, who was already up at St. John’s, Cambridge. Nevertheless, he did enjoy wearing an academic hood back at school services in the cathedral alongside the masters, causing some bemusement.
His first term at Trinity was in the days of its gargantuan Harrison & Harrison, which included a 32ft stop on the Great. It coincided with King’s College Chapel choir being in residence there whilst their own chapel was being cleaned, providing an opportunity to come to the notice of David Willcocks. As a Trinity man, he was able to stay in the organ loft during their services and was also given a recital in the King’s College chapel after they returned home. He remembers Reg Adams coming up to hear it and, having been a boy under Willcocks at Westminster Abbey, was pleased to renew his acquaintance with him. Nicholas eventually took a first in his degree and the University’s John Stewart of Rannoch Scholarship in Sacred Music, as well as securing, through Willcocks’s influence, the opportunity to act as locum Organist at Coventry Cathedral for a couple of summers. He was also the page-turner for RCO diploma exams for several sessions, and vividly remembers the schoolboy John Scott leaving the examiners awestruck.
Coming down from Cambridge, Nicholas found Allan Wicks was away on tour and between deputies at the cathedral, and was pleased to be invited to cover at Canterbury for a month. At this time Reg Adams was in the throes of leaving his post at Folkestone Parish Church and wanted Nicholas to succeed him. Reg was disappointed when Nicholas declined the invitation as he was hoping to get onto the cathedral circuit. Nevertheless, there was a phone call on Boxing Day 1972, from Peter Cole, the new Vicar, saying that Reg’s successor had pulled out at three days’ notice and would he act as caretaker for just a couple of months? The two months lasted almost seven years, during which time the choir at Folkestone was rebuilt to its former glories, including cathedral visits.
Another chance phone call to cover a sudden vacancy saw him thrown into running the music department at Maidstone Grammar School, although he had had no real training for the job, this led to a position at Folkestone Grammar School for Girls. He was also still applying for Cathedral Assistant posts, which the school found a little irksome, and he was to be disappointed several times in his applications.
He married his wife Beryl on Easter Monday 1977, with Reg Adams playing the organ as well as giving the main speech at the reception; they have been happily together for thirty-four years. Also, during the 1970s he was involved with the four-manual Copeman Hart instrument installed at Folkestone, following a substantial bequest.
In 1979, Nicholas moved from Folkestone to become Head of Music at Hemel Hempstead School. It was the former grammar school of the town, with a formidable musical reputation. The Head was on extended sick leave, and the interviews were conducted by his deputy, a former organ scholar of Clare College, Cambridge, who himself became Head soon afterwards. There was a great deal to do at the school and church work rather fell by the wayside, though he continued to give recitals. Nicholas’ head for figures came to the fore as he found himself invited to cast the school timetable and run the administration of A- and O-level external examinations, developing a useful side-line as a musician who was also an administrator. When the time came to look for the next job, he widened his horizons and found himself looking more in the administration columns of the Times Educational Supplement than under the departmental headships.
The ‘third-in-command’ job suddenly came up at the Royal College of Music. It was filled, however, by the next-in-line at the College, but when his vacant post was advertised, Nicholas was successful, and once again found himself working with Sir (as he was by then) David Willcocks, with particular responsibility for the GRSM course and the academic components of the performing courses, as well as many other aspects of College administration, acquiring an office that overlooked the steps up to the Royal Albert Hall.
The Vice-Directorship became vacant in 1988, and it was indicated that the professors would support Nicholas in applying for the post over the head of the Registrar, who was otherwise the successor-in-waiting. Accepting the position the Registrar left very promptly, and Nicholas found himself absorbing his work as well, with such success that the College decided that he did not really need replacing: all this came at the same time as recording the main organ works of Alkan for the first time.
For some ten years, Nicholas oversaw a major syllabus review at the Royal College, including the introduction of degree status for all undergraduate performers; he was also involved with John Birch, Nicholas Danby and Richard Popplewell in ensuring that a decent and overdue instrument for organ students was installed by Walker’s in 1993. RCM organ students had a fearful array of poor instruments on which to practise and perform, and he was instrumental in scrapping three of them and setting up better arrangements to practise elsewhere.
In 1996 Nicholas arranged and hosted a KCOA visit to London, which included Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, performing Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as an opener for the day, before going on to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea hosted by Ian Curror, and then the Brompton Oratory with Patrick Russell; finally ending the day at the RCM, where he improvised on Reg Adams’ name, much to the surprise and delight of the dedicatee.
Since 1981 Nicholas had examined for the ABRSM, including overseas tours, and found himself involved on their Examinations Board, as well as writing syllabuses, training and moderating examiners, and marking Theory scripts.
Although he was recommended to apply for the Directorship of the RCM when it came up in 1993, Nicholas felt it would take him too far from hands-on involvement with students and candidates, so declined. However, he became Chief Examiner in Music for Trinity College London in 1998, and spent five years bringing syllabuses into line with quality assurance requirements. Nicholas also travelled world-wide promoting the work of Trinity’s board. Trinity, although a minor player in the UK market, has always been big overseas, especially in the Pacific Rim and Australasia. Needless to say, he played a lot of interesting organs during his travels.
This demanding life-style was not without its stresses and, with deterioration in his wife’s health in 2002, Nicholas retreated to freelance work, still based in Hemel Hempstead. He gradually found himself back at the console, doing more and more deputising around the area and in London. The local church at St. John’s, Boxmoor had a fine musical reputation which was in something of a trough, and he took this on in 2006. As a consequence, they now have a splendid choir of twenty-six, which has sung at several cathedrals; also, their idiosyncratic Garrard organ of 1906, is about to be replaced with a splendid new Nicholson instrument. Nicholas has commissioned a new work from Malcolm Archer, to be performed at the inaugural recital by Paul Hale on 22nd November, and looks forward to welcoming the KCOA to see this instrument next June.
Nicholas is Lay Chair for his local Deanery Synod, Vice-President and Secretary of the Alkan Society, Patron of the New School of Organ Studies, and is heavily involved in the committee work of the Guild of Church Musicians and the Incorporated Society of Musicians, as well as performing, accompanying, examining (including setting and marking Theory papers), and offering consultancy services. He still finds time, however, to pursue his life-long interest in the public transport operators of Kent, producing a monthly bulletin for a society of more than 400 enthusiasts and having published the fleet histories back to the 1910s of the two major operators in the county. That interest provides some pretext for occasional return trips to Kent, re-visiting earlier haunts, suggesting he might like to move back to Kent permanently at some time. As a true Man of Kent, a quiet village in the Weald would be his ideal, and indeed for us.
Hazel & Alexander Bliss – Weald
Nicholas Hicks – Rainham
Tony Bullett - Woodford, Essex
Christopher Gower - Canterbury
Others: 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".