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Introduce Yourself

Richard McVeigh

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Fortunate enough to be educated at Haberdashers' Aske's, Elstree and as a boarder at Clifton College, Bristol. I have learnt with varying degrees of success to play the violin, viola, guitar and clarinet (I gave up the latter after passing out mid-lesson, my tutor advising that it helped if I took a breath every now and then). Happiest playing the piano and eventually, once my feet could reach the pedals, Clifton's fabulous 4 manual H&H organ, but never to a standard where I coulld hope to earn a living, although good enough to be let loose once on the public at St Mary Redcliffe.


I took part in the Oundle Summer School with tutors Nicholas Danby, Jacques van Oortmerssen and Kimberley Marshall, where although there was much interest in the then new Frobenius organ in the chapel, most organists seemed to be more interested in the silent beast at the other end of the chapel. In my teenage years, by writing nice letters, I also managed to get a few hours on the organs of Hull City Hall, Bristol's Colston Hall, St John's Cambridge (pre-Mander), the Royal Albert Hall (twice) and Royal Festival Hall (also twice, the second time also involving help Ralph Downes to tune the instrument). I found the RFH organ to be a confusing one to register, and have the utmost respect for anyone who can register effectively on this instrument.


Also a bit of a singer, first as a treble and then as a tenor. In the Haberdashers choir I sang in a performance of the Berlioz Te Deum conducted by Claudio Abbado at St Albans, although stuck in the south aisle, the boys choirs couldn't see Abbado so were conducted by Richard Hickox standing on a chair watching Abbado on CCTV! Every year we took part in Christmas Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with Richard Stilgoe as compere, one of which was always televised by BBCTV. In the Clifton choir, we went on eventful days out to sing Evensong at Winchester, Exeter and Bristol cathedrals. For a couple of years after leaving Clifton I was in the London Symphony Chorus and took part in some memorable concerts and recordings, including Candide with Leonard Bernstein just before he died.


Although I got a few jobs playing weddings, funerals and various services in London, this proved more trouble than it was worth, and although for a while I continued playing, I haven't pulled a stop in anger for a few years now.


Workwise, I have been employed by the BBC, British Rail (never again!), Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers (they fired me, and quite right too!) and a Yorkshire building company, where I ran the London office. For the past 10 years I have been a civil servant, first in the old Ministry of Agriculture (Parliamentary Questions and Milk Quotas) and since 2000 with the Food Standards Agency (meat hygiene). I combine this with regular trips around the country by train (another lifelong passion, despite BRs attempts) to go to concerts and organ recitals on instruments I have yet to hear live.

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Guest Paul Isom

Paul Isom - 47 years old. DOM at St Martin's Church, Brasted, Rochester DOA, and DOM at a boys' grammar school. Married to Helen (also an organist). About to have 4th house organ - an Oberlinger job. Recent house organs have been a tiny 1m Walker, a 2m Mander Hoxner (V. good!) and a 3 stop box organ. Between the wife and I, we have a Bluthner grand, de Blaise harpsichord, Broadwood upright, a Clavinova and as of next week a rather spiffy Oberlinger. Brasted has a rather good 1992 Walker - v. broad and romantic in a great acoustic, and ten minutes from our front door, and 30 seconds from the nearest pub. A one-hit wonder composer with an anthem published by OUP which has just come out as a single copy - roll on the royalties.......................................................................


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I think it somewhat spoils the intriguing mystery of the aliases:- pcnd5584, Vox Humana etc. One built up a mental image…


Once its done it can’t be rewound!


I am a radar engineer. I have always been obsessed by organs.


I learnt to play on the National Health Service! The chapel of the Royal Free Hospital was kept at pyjama temperature allowing 24/365 practice. After the hospitals move to Hampstead (and disposing of the organ), despite several other kind and helpful practice arrangements, in the 70s I decided the only real solution was to have a house organ. The St Albans small organ exhibitions lead me to the conclusion that Peter Collins was the only person that understood small organs, and I have a 12 stop tracker organ based on 5 ranks (multiple pallets – no couplers). I used to play with the amateur choirs Cantores Medicini, whose records are still on eBay, and the Harant Singers.


My playing and CD interests are Bach, Buxtehude, de Grigny; Liszt and composers for the Cavaille-Coll organ – Widor, Dupre, Tournemire.


I play Bach with toes and heels according to Ars Organi pedalling principals and I play Bach, Mendelssohn and Franck from Dupre editions. Vive les substitutions!! I’m totally 60s and think Karl Richter is great. :rolleyes:

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Neil Crawford , 44.

Assistant organist St. Augustine's ,edgbaston ,birmingham.

studied at London College Furniture building early keyboard instruments.

Studied harpsichord with Robert Wooley and most recentley the organ with Merion Wynn Jones.

Sing Alto with the st. augustine's choir as well as other choirs.

(our website is st.augustines-edgbaston.org)


Sadly I work as IT engineer to make ends meet.

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Paul Morley.

Age 43, native of Manchester, now resident in Cheshire.


I became hooked on choral music after singing Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ in my first year at grammar school. I was hooked on the organ around the same time, after hearing some stunning playing and improvising by Roger Fisher and his assistant at an ordination service in Chester Cathedral. My enthusiasm was encouraged by the Head of Music at school (a fine organist, inspiring teacher and the equal of many a ‘big name’ as a choral conductor) and members of Manchester Organists’ Association.


At present, my day job is Head of Music at Alsager School.

I am also Organist and Assistant DoM, St Mary’s Nantwich. The church has a thriving choral tradition (mixed choir of c.35, choral evensong twice a term, an annual concert, a biggish programme at Christmas & Easter, cathedral visits once or twice per year), but a much messed with and now somewhat rubbish organ:


I will be standing down from my church post in September 2006 because of increasing work and family commitments


I am married to a flautist and singer, who considers the organ vulgar and those who play upon it rather creepy. Fair enough on both counts, I suppose.

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I am married to a flautist and singer, who considers the organ vulgar and those who play upon it rather creepy.

Well, honestly. What choice do flutists have. Ask a letterpress-trained typesetter about word processors.


I am married to a philosopher and pop critic. She left out the "vulgar" part and moved straight on to the "creepy" judgement. (She used to be a pretty good bassoonist, by the way.)




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I am Jonathan Orwig from Grand Terrace, California USA...


I dabbled with music growing up - played piano, violin and French Horn...

My father was a minister in a small independent church, he convinced me to help out with the music from about the age of 15 or so until I left home for college


Went off to study, had no idea what I wanted to do... finally settled on music, first as an organ major, then switched to voice after a bad hand injury, finally convinced the dept, head to allow me to study composition...


As a silly 23-year-old, got married, ended up quitting college, moved several times (and had some really odd jobs) Finally started directing music at a church in Florida full-time for pay, then moved to Michigan to do the same in a Methodist church which had a Phelps Casavant orgelbewegung special with chiffing strings(!). Went through a divorce, decided to go back and finish school at the age of 29 (ye gods, surrounded by teenagers!) Finally graduated from college with a degree in Church Music, emphasis in composition (1994). Since graduation, I've directed music in 3 churches, my most recent post has lasted almost 8 years so far, and I'm fortunate to be able to make a living wage at it (although as a musical jack-of-all trades, I don't spend NEAR enough time in practice, and consequently my technique suffers).


I married again, this time as an older and wiser person, and have been married for 7 years to my wonderful wife Lindsay - we have no children, but 2 cats and a terminally happy Golden Retriever. I have my own publishing company, and have made a nice side business of selling organ music via the internet.


Musically, I love the organ (of course) and am currently writing a book on the Organ Symphony. I also love exploring obscure organ music, and have a special place in my heart for chamber music - especially string quartets. I'm fortuante to have made many dear friends across the globe thanks to the internet, and enjoy reading your posts here, even if I don't always have time to enter into the discussion.


Best Regards,


Jonathan Orwig


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Barry Jordan, 48 years old, married (quite often), two sons and a daughter all younger than they should be at my age.


Born and grew up in Port Elizabeth on the south-east coast (bottom right hand corner) of South Africa, where my first lovers were two Bevingtons, a Walker and, best of all, a Norman and Beard originally built for the Great Exhibition in Kimberley in 1890-something, and which sadly no longer exists.


Went to University in Cape Town, where I was assistant organist at the cathedral (Hill, once in St Margaret's Westminster, thrown out of there by Edwin Lemare and moved to the colonies in 1909 after a spell as somebody's house organ in Sheffield or somewhere) and privileged to witness the installation of Rudolf von Beckerath's last organ before his death in the University's concert hall - and to have lessons on it with Gillian Weir for a while.


After that I played the clarinet in a military band for 4 years. This was called National Service. 4 years of playing the first violin parts of (for example) the overture to "Tannhäuser" on the clarinet in a smallish room also containig 7 trombones and 6 tubas makes one want to stop doing it very badly indeed. Then back to Cape Town for a 2 year spell as DOM at a girls high school and and M.Mus in Composition at UCT.


Then a year in Vienna studying organ with Martin Haselböck and composition with Francis Burt; after that, several years in Lübeck at the Hochschule (still Haselböck), combined with a job in Kiel. Having finished soloists diploma and all the general church musical hoop jumping required in Germany, I was appointed cathedral organist in Magdeburg. And that was that.

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Malcolm Farr, intellectual property lawyer, married with five kids and Saint Bernard dog. (What a tribe!) Lived mostly in Australia, particularly in Sydney, but moved west to Perth a few years ago. "Titulaire" of my home toaster, and not currently looking for any church positions. My practising is the despair of my family, and I think they'd prefer to see me healthily engaged inflicting my talents (or lack thereof) on some unsuspecting congregation. (However, our local church is of the guitar and drums variety (and hence I find excuses not to attend), so the poor congregation already has enough of a collective hairshirt.) Musical interests vary: Bach is fairly constant; Reger and Karg-Elert get a bit of a workout; the English too - Parry, Stanford and Whitlock; and Widor and Bonnet are in at the moment.




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Guest Barry Oakley

This is bit of a ramble, but when you get past 60 you've usually covered a lot of miles and find it difficult to disengage top gear. Apologies to those I might well bore although I try to keep my normal postings brief.


I was born at Watford, Hertfordshire, in 1937 where my parents introduced me to the world of wartime symphony concerts in the Town Hall. A chorister briefly at St Albans, I moved to Hull with my parents in the late 40’s where I became a chorister at Holy Trinity under the charismatic Norman Strafford. It was here that I developed my passion and lifelong interest in the organ although, regrettably, I never learned to play. Still a great friend to this day, Peter Goodman arrived from Guildford in the early 50’s to succeed Strafford as Organist and Master of Choristers.


It was during the early ‘50’s that I spent many hours in Hull City Hall transfixed observing Compton’s rebuild and enlarge the magnificent organ. And it was also at this time that I was on the threshold of becoming apprenticed to Compton through eventually knowing the late Jimmy Taylor. But parental intervention prevented what still remains an unfulfilled ambition to this day.


Fate, however, saw me become apprenticed in the printing industry (letterpress), although just prior to my 18th birthday (perhaps fortuitously), my employers went out of business and so I continued working as an army printer in the RAOC, extending my studies at what was then the Oxford College of Technology, Art and Commerce. Soon afterwards letterpress printing was phased out in the army and I finished up in Cyprus during the EOKA days finally seconded to intelligence duties with the exalted rank of S/Sgt.


Later in the 50’s, having been demobilised, I commenced work in a London publishing house as a trainee technical journalist. By coincidence this work brought me into contact with a Hull-based company who in time persuaded me to join them. It was at this point that I renewed my choral association with Holy Trinity and was again reunited with the exquisite tonal spectrum of its organ.


Over the years, having married and become the father of three sons, I headed PR operations for a number of blue-chip companies, finally starting my own consultancy in the early 80’s whilst resident in Sheffield.


My 25 years in Sheffield saw me becoming a member of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus – a great experience singing with mainstream orchestras, soloists and conductors. And I also became a member of the choir at St Maries RC Cathedral where at the time, according to my friend George Sixsmith, is the worst-for-wear and condition T C Lewis organ he had ever clapped eyes on.


Throughout my adult life I have rebuilt and restored several organs, and for which I have been particularly indebted for the kind help, guidance and use of the excellent workshop facilities of George Sixsmith.


Having gone through the painful experience of divorce over 10 years ago, I now live happily in Stone, Staffordshire, with my new teacher/pianist/singer wife. Occasionally I get invited to sing as part of a schola augmenting plainsong Masses at Oulton Abbey.

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I am Bernard Olivers-Uffant and I am DoM at a modestly-sized Parish Church in Kent. Paul Isom is my DOA who kindly gave me lots of good advice last year, leading to the appointment of headcase et al as our new organ builders. The condition of the instrument improves with each tuning visit which is a blessing. The instrument itself is rather peculiar, as headcase will no doubt attest.


I am a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society and earn the pennies in The Smoke, in order to keep my second wife and our four children in the manner in which they've not yet become accustomed.


I've been playing the organ since the age of 10 but after taking gr8 piano aged 16, I didn't have my first real organ lesson until I took up my current post. Seven diplomas later I'm approaching Fxxx with trepidation and fear, paralysed by the worry that I've left it all too late (I'm now in my late 30s...) --- Henry Fairs is also my teacher and most excellent he is too...


Outside of work and church life I sing with the local glee club, try and keep my golf handicap in single figures and hope one day to farm llamas and alpacas on the verdant slopes of the South Downs.

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Guest Paul Isom

Hello Bernard! Do email me and put me out of my misery as to who, where and when. Being closer to the dreaded fxxxy has rather taxed my memory, although I'm glad to hear that my advice paid off!!!!

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Born in Colchester, raised in Kelvedon, Chipping Ongar and Chelmsford where I attended King Edward VI Grammar School (1959-66) before going up to The University of Hull to read Law at the feet of the inimitable F.W.Taylor. Two years into my postgraduate degree a strange desire for remunerated employment persuaded me to accept the offer of a lectureship at Queen's University, Belfast, which I did on 6 August 1971. On 9 August internment was introduced:the rest, as they say is history....Intended to stay 3 years but ended up doing 31, gradually working through the ranks, to become (briefly) Head of Department of Private Law before it was decided, to my great relief, to abolish departments. Eventually decided I could no longer stick being part of a system which glorified reseach productivity, irrespective of the intrinsic value or real originality of the work, and regarded undergraduate students as nothing more than fees on legs to whom as little time should be devoted as humanly possible by anyone who was serious about career development. Took early retirement in 2002 and now amuse myself with various part-time activities, including the proof reading of Organists' Review and the COS Newsletter, being the sort of sad individual who pays attention to such things as the difference between it's and its or principal/le.


Still married after 36 years with one son (28), one daughter (23) and currently two cats. Still trying to assess just how much it says about the possibility of reconciliation between peoples that my father spent the years 1941-46 in the RAF and my son's partner is a catholic girl from Cologne. (Any recommendations for a wedding venue between Cologne Cathedral and St Salvator's Chaple in St Andrews?)


Was a chorister at my local church and regularly attended evensong at the Cathedral when John Jordan was DoM, (and The Golden Fleece/ Lion and Lamb afterwards!!) Musically largely self-taught and stopped playing after an accident to my right hand left me with greatly reduced sensation in the tips of my fingers: this was probably a great blessing for others as I was never much good anyway. Have been an assiduous collector of organ recordings for 40 years. My one remaining ambition is to have a CD of organ music from all 42 of the Anglican Cathedrals in England. Thanks to the activities of Regent and Lammas I am almost there: only Carlisle, Leicester and Bradford remain to be added. I would be grateful for anyone with any influence over the music staff at any of these locations who could persuade them to issue a CD in the near future before I fall off my perch!!

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Peter Ellis - originally from Halifax, UK where I had lessons with David Barker. Studied music at Birmingham Uni (1994-7) studying organ with Marcus Huxley. Held three UK posts @ West Vale Baptist Church (1988-94), All Saints, Kings Heath, Birmingham (97-99), St. Pauls, Woodford Bridge, Essex (2000-02).


Moved to Australia in 2002. Organist of St. Augustine's, Merewether, Newcastle from 2003 to July 2006. I've spent the last few years concentrating mainly on my conducting and i'm on a development course run by the Australian government which lets me loose on the major orchestras occasionally. I'm also Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Newcastle University Choir and Eastern Sydney Chamber Orchestra.


Since July 2006 I've been assistant organist and music development officer at St. James' Church, King Street, Sydney, a fine 1824 building, 61 stop organ, semi professional choir and anglo-catholic tradition. I've recently started taking my playing seriously again and I'm loving it.


Oh I also do cello and organ recitals with my partner.


(ps. Nick Bennett - don't i know you?)

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Cynic = Paul Derrett

whose caravan has come to rest in East Yorkshire after childhood in Buckinghamshire,

boarding schools in Oxfordshire and Hants,

four years in London,

fifteen years in Shropshire (two school posts),

one appalling term in Staffordshire (D.O.M. at Abbots Bromley!)

and fifteen years in Gloucestershire (two more school posts).


I am totally organ-obsessive* (but then I think many on this forum are)

and fascinated by most organ literature....

still puzzled why much of it seems virtually unexplored.

It's like having found both burgers and steak and chips, most appetites seem content to give all other beef dishes a miss! Not me.


Although not a particularly patient craftsman (I prefer voicing to construction) I have built a number of organs, most of which still work and all of which were seriously cheap. I have also rescued and found new homes for several little instruments. It bothers me that people needlessly bin things that took so long to make (and make well).


Anyone sufficiently curious to know more can visit my (pretty ego-centred) website at www.paulderrett.piczo.com


*We're all poor sad people aren't we? .... well, I know I am!

Mind you, as I always say to my wife, it could be worse: I could be blowing my pension on following the horses or wasting my time memorising bus timetables.

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Rev Tony Newnham


Born 1952 in Worthing. Was fascinated by the sound of a pipe organ in Maidstone Parish Church (on a family outing) and was hooked for life. Started playing in church aged 9 )playing recorders in a music group - that was early 60's so there's nothing new!) and then American organ (and likewise have been fascinated by reed organs ever since).


Got interested in electronics because I wanted to build an organ for practice (still haven't found time or money to do anything about it!)


Trained in electronics, but got diverted into recording and audio-visual later, so my electronics is rather rusty.


Various organ posts in different churches, culminating as Director of Music at Rye Baptist Church (a rather poor 2m by Morgan & Smith) and a music group plus some occaisional singers - then became a Baptist Minister.


I still play the organ frequently - if anyone is in the area, I'm giving a recital as part of Saltaire Festival. Current projects are restoring an Alexandre harmonium and a 3-stop pipe organ (on which I'm making VERY slow progress).


Married with 4 grown-up children, and currently minister of Heaton (Bradford) Baptist Church.


Every Blessing



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Richard Fairhurst. 31 years old; organist at St Mary's, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. Very much a dilettante compared to the rest of the eminent names on this board, but I do enjoy reading and (very occasionally) chipping in.


After many years of learning the piano to no great effect at Oakham School, and feeling decidely inferior to the many impressive instrumentalists in my year, I was astonished to go to Cambridge (studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, of all things) and find my musical abilities (such as they are) suddenly greatly valued. From then I began to grow in confidence again, first playing piano accordion in a marvellously disreputable ceilidh band, and now on the organ. Today, my day job is as editor of Waterways World magazine. I currently have an offer lodged for a 40ft narrowboat which will have space for my practice Viscount in the saloon!


Our organ at St Mary's is an, erm, interesting 1989 two-manual Makin digital - one of only seven made, mercifully. Its main distinguishing feature is that it has synthesiser-like preset combinations rather than individually selectable stops, which is as frustrating as it sounds. I think the powers that be are coming round to the idea of a better replacement, probably a Hauptwerk installation. We have an enthusiastic choir, too, which happily is led by one of the sopranos so I can concentrate on the organ.

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Interesting that most of the replies are from those of us who can be easily identified from the user name that we've chosen.


I'm Neil Fortin, grew up in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, before it had any royal connections, and learnt to play on the fine Nicolson/Binns organ in the parish church. Later had lessons from Paul Trepte at Worcester Cathedral where I sang with and frequently accompanied the cathedral voluntary choir.


Currently live in Cheltenham and am DoM at St. Mary's, Charlton Kings. Also joint Musical Director of The Silurian Consort. Member of the RSCM Midlands and South West Cathedral Singers though rarely sing for them now having become their regular accompanist.


Married, but separated, with two teen-aged daughters, one of whom lives with me and the other with her mother. Isn't life a bugger sometimes!


Unashamed lover of Willis & Hill organs and hater of that abomination in my diocesan cathedral. Also not ashamed to admit that I find the new toaster in my own church to be more versatile, muscial and enjoyable to play than many pipe organs - including some of the many cathedrals that I've been priviledged to play in over the last few years.

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I think the powers that be are coming round to the idea of a better replacement, probably a Hauptwerk installation.

Richard, I played for a wedding in Charlbury c1978, I don't remember the organ at all but would have said it was a pipe instrument then?


You're not that far from my church at Charlton Kings, do come and try our new Wyvern organ if you're in the market, I think you'll be impressed.

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I’m Robin Stalker, organist of the Centrepiece Church in Ashford Kent. (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=D03036)


It was one my aunts that described me as a “mad organist”, hence my use as a pseudonym. These days I think I would best be described as a “mildly irritated organist”.


I had organ lessons from Philip Moore (no, not that one) and managed to pass my Grade 8. Sadly transposition still has me totally bewildered.


Best organ fun? Easy, being let loose in Coventry Cathedral after hours. It seemed only right and proper to test full organ………repeatedly! Running a very close second is the time I played “ There’s No Business Like Show Business” arranged for organ quartet. I played the pipe organ and was joined by three toasters from the local organ club.


After many years working in finance I am currently resting. It’s nice to be able to devote more time to photography and steam railways.



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Mark Brafield.


I grew up in Woodford, East London, and from an early age sang in the choir at St Mary's Woodford, now rebuilt following a fire, with its superb Grant Degens and Bradbeer organ. Roger Fisher was connected to the church through his family, and hearing him play in Woodford was my 'road to Damascus'. The organ and the church attracted, in succession, Robert Munns, Graham Barber and Roger Sayer. Robert was my first teacher, although the other two have also had a huge influence on my playing. Roger Fisher has continued to be a great support and guide, offering me my first cathedral recital at Chester when I was still at school.


I read English Literature at Trinity College Oxford and held an organ scholarship there.


I then qualified as a solicitor and I now practice mainly as a divorce lawyer in a Guildford firm.


I held church positions for about 20 years, the last 13 years being at All Saints, Tooting - one of the most magnificent organs I have ever played (Arthur Harrison, 1906, 3 manuals, 39 stops) in a beautiful acoustic.


With marriage and a young child the time had come to 'spend more time with my family' and I gave up this position 5 years ago on moving out of London to Dorking.


I continue my concert playing with a schedule that aims to include 2 cathedrals a year and about 8 - 10 other lunchtime concerts at venues in the City or here in Surrey. Touching on another recent topic raised in the forum, I have just, at the ripe old age of 44, got my FRCO (I never had time to study for it when I had a church position !), thanks to the inspiring teaching of Stephen Farr + Daniel Moult.

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Thanks to all - fascinating reading.

I started to play the piano when I was around five, and the Organ at eleven/twelve - can't remember which now. Left school at eighteen, spent some years in the Organ building industry - G & D in their dying days, then HNB, leaving just before Frank arrived - great fun, but in 1973 went into retail, where I've been ever since. Was organist of St. Mary's Henbury (Bristol) for some years, (2 man Daniels), then trained as a Reader (I try not to preach for ages!). Currently Organist and Reader at another Bristol church (not at the same time, I hasten to add!) whose Organ leaves much to be desired, though it does the job OK. Married for 36 years, two daughters, two and two half grandchildren of whom I am inordinately proud. Musical interests; just about anything that has a decent tune/harmony, but not opera, thank you. Musical dislikes - anything without a decent tune/harmony. Why is so much modern service music so ugly?


Regards to all



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