To be elected as President during 2019/ 20 was a surprise – almost a ‘why me?’ reaction, as I felt that nothing I could offer would match the abilities and achievements of my predecessors. I am honoured to have been asked and during my year of office will do all I can to promote and sustain interest in the organ. Since 1934, with support from its membership, Presidents have enabled the Association to thrive and in recent years, to provide encouragement and financial support for young organists, through the Edgar Joyce Memorial Fund – set up in memory of a former member, who was President in 1992.
Following many years as organist at Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol, I now share with a fellow member of our association, the organ bench at St Mary’s, Stoke Bishop, Bristol.
My musical career began at the age of 5, with piano lessons at two shillings a time(!), with ‘Miss Hodges’ – an austere lady (more accurately ‘terrifying’) who rapped your knuckles with a stick, should you dare to play a black note with your thumb or played ‘without bending your knuckles’. My debut ‘in church’, aged 11, was playing a harmonium at a Gospel Hall in Bath. At the age of 13, with funds earned through a paper round, I commenced organ lessons on a fine 3 manual Willis at St Mary’s, Bathwick. Over the years, I was privileged to have several encouraging tutors, culminating in several years as a pupil of Michael Fleming, at All Saints, Margaret Street, London.
The hallmarks of the BDOA are those of acceptance, loyalty, a generous and helpful spirit, a determination to keep the organ ‘alive’ and to help lay foundations for those who will continue to play the ‘King of Instruments’ for generations to come. Few Associations will have amongst their members or former members so many organ scholars, cathedral organists, composers, (university) chapel Directors of Music or organists whose choirs and repertoires ‘match’ those found anywhere in the world.
I am indebted to Chris Mansfield (former Secretary) and Eric Tyson (new Secretary) who have carried the load since my heart attack in February of this year. Following three stays in hospital, and realising I was ‘on the ropes’ and unable to defend myself, they ‘persuaded’ me to see through my Presidential year, with their help. Without it there would have been no Programme of Events for my year in office!
Our monthly events are well ‘underway’ and a look at the Events section will show that we are not a totally ‘serious’ bunch – for instance, in July we had a Car Treasure Hunt of churches and organs, followed by a sumptuous Cream Tea in our south facing garden, on the hottest Saturday of the year.
The ‘organ crawl’ afternoon in August to three churches and organs was a very interesting, enjoyable and well attended event.
October 2nd sees us with Jonathan Price’s talk on C H H Parry (advert attached), and then I do hope you will all join us for my President’s Afternoon which will be a Composite Recital by some B&DOA Members at Christ Church Clifton on 2 November (advert attached).
The final months of our year (which runs June to May) commence with the Annual Dinner on 1 February 2020 when our Guest Speaker will be Dr John Kitchen of Edinburgh who is the current President of the IAO. Immediately following Easter there is usually a trip ‘abroad’ or 3/4 day trip to organs in the UK – arrangements for this post-Easter trip are gradually emerging for visits to organs in the Peterborough/Oundle districts.
Please do join us for as many events as possible – your Membership Card and Programme will be posted to you very shortly.
I look forward to seeing you soon at one of our events.
With best wishes,