A warm welcome to our Association

Whether you love listening to this fabulous instrument or enjoy playing it, we welcome you to join us, the Suffolk Organists' Association. Each year we publish a Journal. We offer opportunities to visit churches throughout the county and further afield, recitals and lectures. We offer bursaries and advice to those of any age who would like to advance their abilities with the instrument.

Are you seeking a post of Organist and Director of Music? Please look in Vacancies

Recent news of Members

Below you will find an obituary for life member John Budgen who died last month. He will have been known to many of our older members as manager of the Ipswich branch of Bishop & Son. It is hoped a concert will be held in his memory next spring at Framlingham Parish Church.

Stephen Hogger after his recent heart attack is resting but is recovering well. Our recitalists, Juliet Adams and Christopher Moore at the tribute to Martin Ellis have both suffered accidents very recently: Juliet, a car accident and Christopher Moore, a fall cutting his left hand very badly. We wish both of them a speedy recovery

Members will have been posted by snail mail Journal No. 121 which covers the calendar year 2015. James Crowe, Honorary Journal Editor, has produced another 'magnificent' edition running to 117 pages with very full description of all the activities and personalities that make our Association so vibrant.

The composite recital as a tribute to our former President, Martin Ellis by five members of the Association took place on Wednesday 13 October 2021. You can read about it in Recent Events.

On Monday 25 October 2021 at 6 pm in All Saint's Church, Cressing, Witham CM77 8PQ SOA member Tony Dunn will be playing in aid of Cressing Church funds. Entrance is free and we look forward to meeting you.

Here is the programme of pieces that Tony will play:

  • Fanfare for the Common Man A Copland
  • Melodia M Reger
  • Magnificat septime toni J Pachelbel
  • Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist BuxWV 208 D Buxtehude
  • More palatino J P Sweelinck
  • Adagio from Symphony No 5 C-M Widor
  • Toccata in C BWV 564 J S Bach
  • Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott BWV 720 J S Bach

Anyone interested in acquiring a 17 stop Canadian reed organ? Send an email to the Webmaster.

Here are some details: The instrument is an American organ (reed organ) made by the Bell Organ & Piano Co. Ltd. of Carden and MacDonnell Street, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, a company founded in 1864 by Scottish-born brothers William and Robert Bell. It has 17 stops, plus Bass and Treble Couplers, and Knee Swell. I acquired it circa 1980 when it became surplus to the requirements of the Woodbridge Beaumont Chapel (Baptist), since when it has resided indoors in my study, so it has not been subjected to any ravages of climate. It was in working order when last played, until the canvas webbing straps between pedals and bellows parted whilst my son was playing it some years ago. Thus is needs a new length of webbing fitting there, also a piece of muslin behind the decorative frets, as this has been perforated by small children’s inquisitive probing fingers. It is quite an imposing instrument, dimensions being Height 53½”, Width 54½” , Depth 27”.

Woodbridge Beaumont (Baptist) Chapel, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, is now a Grade II Listed Building. This Bell Organ may be the one mentioned in the Chapel history as “On Sunday February 23rd 1868, an Organ was opened in the Chapel. The number of Gas-lights has also been considerably increased and other improvements made.”

2021 Proms recitals from the Royal Albert Hall of interest to organists

May we draw your attention as lovers of organ music to recitals where the grand organ of the Royal Albert Hall will be played as part of this year's Proms 2021 season. All of these recitals may be listened to on BBC Radio 3 live or on BBC Sounds and the televised ones on BBC2 and BBC4 and available on BBC iPlayer until 11 October 2021.

You will hear Daniel Hyde, Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge, Olivier Latry of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Thomas Trotter, James McVinnie and Anna Lapwood, Director of music at Pembroke College,Cambridge. Some details of programmes and their dates and times follow:

  • Friday 30 July 2021 Poulenc Organ Concerto Daniel Hyde on BBC TV 7.30pm
  • Sunday morning 1 August Bach + Martin Baker improvisations on BBC Radio 3 11.45am
  • Saturday morning 4 September 2021 Bach/ Widor/ Saint-Saens/ Liszt by Thomas Trotter on BBC Radio 3 11.45am
  • Monday 6 September 2021 Programme including Messiaen 'Livre du Saint Sacrement' showcasing James McVinnie on BBC Radio 3 7.30 pm
  • Tuesday 7 September 2021 Saint-Saens Symphony No 3 in C minor, the "Organ" Symphony with Anna Lapwood making her Proms debut on BBC Radio 3.

If you missed any of these excellent recitals, the television programmes may be found on iPlayer and the radio on the BBC Sounds app.

Our Secretary, Stephen Hogger, writes: "The main news is that the Council, with the agreement of the two gentlemen concerned, are proposing that we postpone the rest of 2021 events and that Nicholas Jardine restarts his presidential year in May 2021. William Baldry will remain President Elect and begin his year as President in May 2022. As many events as can be reinstated will be, so hopefully we have missed nothing. This will have to be ratified at the AGM in May in whatever form it takes but I can’t imagine that anyone would fail to see the sense in this proposal."

You will know that Peter Crompton, a former President of SOA, plays annually on the Grand Organ of the Royal Albert Hall for the Service of Remembrance. Covid regulations made this impossible last November but you may like to read his comments in an interview with the supporters of the Colchester Moot Hall organ which was fairly recently restored.

News of our Student Members

If you are one of our younger members and are reading this, and you are being mentioned then please let us have more information of how you are progressing so this website can be up-to-date. If you are a young person playing the organ but not already a member and you would like to join us then please get in contact. We do help with bursaries for tuition!

Ben Banks gave an excellent recital at Royal Hospital School described in Recent Events.

14 year old Adam Chillingworth accompanied the whole of Evensong Service at St Mary le Tower including Stanford in B flat and 16 verses from Psalm 119. Martin Ellis remarked that "It was really a professional performance. Well done Adam!"

Harrison Cole, who was organ scholar at Wells Cathedral last year has now commenced his studies at Trinity College, Cambridge and very busy in his role as Organ Scholar.

Alex Evans, who won the Advanced Class last September, has been appointed DOM at Hinde Street Methodist Church – part of the West London Mission – from later this summer. We congratulate him on this extraordinary achievement at the age of 18 in such an important Church in Methodism. He has been the organ scholar at St Thomas’s Brentwood for three years where he has had experience of taking choristers' practices and conducting the Choir during Services.

The winners in the Organ Competition on Saturday 22 September 2018 were Recital Class: Jamie Robertson. Advanced Class: Alexander Evans Transitional Class: Alex Taylor Beginners Class: Hannah Meeks Most promising Student Class: Alex Taylor.

Congratulations to our youngest member – Alex Taylor – on gaining Grade 5 Organ. In the same exam session he also gained Grade 5 Guitar both with Distinction!

Deaths of Members

John David Budgeon (Sept 1932 - Sept 2021)

Simpon Pulham writes:

The passing of John Budgen at the age of 89, marks the end of an era. A career spanning seven decades might be almost evenly divided between those years with Bishop and Son and those as an organ builder in his own right. Many people will have read his book ‘An Organ Builder looks Back’ published in 2017. In the course of the narrative, we are introduced to many of the characters who inhabited the trade that he entered in the early 1950’s. Many of them had started their careers in the early C20 and John revelled in recalling many of their stories, providing us with a link in the trade stretching back over a century.

John, it seemed, remembered every instrument he had ever seen. He was able to describe most of them and nearly always an appraisal of their tonal qualities. He was always pleased to share information and on being advised of some new discovery, he was always interested, and pleased to acknowledge the source. I recall a well-known ‘authority’ on organs in Norfolk claiming that an instrument was by Holdich and that they could remember a name plate to that effect on the console. ‘Well,’, said John ‘I saw that organ whilst on holiday in the late 1940’s and there was no plate then – an old boy in the village said it was an organ by Corps’. In the course of time, a contemporary newspaper cutting was found in the archives, which confirmed that it was indeed by Corps.

John’s passion was essentially for the English organ. He once described the ‘classical’ era of half a century ago as an arid experience for him. The Arthur Harrison organ at Clifton College, where he was a pupil of Douglas Fox, remained dear to his heart. There are many stories to be told of encounters with various luminaries in the organ world, including Canon Gordon Paget who used to bring him up a cup of cold tea in the morning, whilst lodging at his rectory.

John always tried to let an instrument inform him, rather than stamp an alien tonal scheme on it. This often resulted in a subtle reworking of an organ. There was a time when many commented that he had not gone far enough. Indeed, I remember seeing an instrument 50 years ago in a local church and commenting to my RE teacher that it still had those ‘old fashioned composition pedals’. ‘Typical of Bishops’ said my teacher ‘leaving all that old stuff in place’. In these days of conservative restoration there could surely be no finer compliment!

John was a great raconteur and many will miss his sense of humour and quick wit. John is survived by Janet his wife and Rebecca his daughter, to whom we extend our condolences. For me, I have lost a friend and mentor. May he rest in peace.

Mike Pluck

Sadly we record the death of another very loyal member of the Association. Mike Pluck from Lion Walk URC Colchester will be familiar to many of you who attended events and he was at the Annual Lunch last February. He was admitted to Colchester Hospital several months ago with a severe infection for which treatment continued and he seemed to be on the mend. He succumbed to Covid-19, contracted in Hospital, on Monday this past week.

Catherine Ennis

We record the death of Catherine Ennis who has been a good friend of the Association over the years. She had been invited to adjudicate for the Organ Competition which was cancelled. Some members will recall her invitation to visit St. Giles Cripplegate many years ago where we played the instrument there.

Martin Ellis FRCO

You will saddened to hear that Martin, our late President of the Association, died on Thursday, 30th January 2020, at his home with Miriam at his side to whom we send our sincere condolences. His funeral was held at Museum Street Methodist Church on Saturday 22 February 2020 at 11am.

Lilian Caudle

Sadly our member Lilian Caudle aged 105, who was our oldest member and most probably our oldest member ever, has died. She died the day after what would have been her 75th Wedding Anniversary. As promised here are the details of Lilian Caudle’s funeral.

The main service will be at St Mary-le-Tower in Ipswich on Tuesday 10th March 2020 at 2pm followed by refreshments in church. The committal and burial will be at Debenham Parish Church on Tuesday 24th March at 11am (Please note change of date) with a short service in church where she started her organ playing career in 1930 followed by an opportunity for organists to play the little organ there whilst people are partaking of refreshments in church to celebrate her love of music.

Gillian Cleaver

Two of our members have recently died. Miss Gillian Cleaver with her sister were actively engaged in attending meetings and visits together with David Brand until age and infirmity put a stop to their participation. Juliette Adams, who knew them both well, played for her funeral at Wetherden Church.

David Hatcher

David Hatcher has also died. He played in the Clacton area.

It is with great sadness that we report the recent deaths of two former Presidents of the Association, Derrick Hibberd and Dawn Harding.

Derrick Hibberd

Derrick Hibberd was a staunch supporter of the SOA for many years and worked tirelessly as Secretary organising many of our overseas trips and those nearer to home. Last year he was awarded Honorary Membership. A full obituary will be printed in the Journal. Those who enjoy reading the March 2019 edition of Organists' Review will have spotted the fine tribute that Juliette Adams, a member of our Council has written. She writes, " It was with much sadness that I learned of Derrick Hibberd's death in October 2018. From 1984 to 1996 Derrick was Secretary of Suffolk Organists' Association. He carried out his duties with utmost diligence, discretion and efficiency. During his time as Secretary out membership peaked to 160. Events were well supported including trips abroad. Derrick was able to form good working relationships with the Presidents. I certainly appreciated Derrick's firm support and encouragement when I was President of the SOA. He himself served as President when he stepped down as Secretary. Derrick grew up in Sheffield, but lived in Suffolk with his family (four sons) for many years. His father was bery involved in the church music scene in Yorkshire so Derrick had exposure to church music at an early age. Prior to taking on the role of SOA Secretary Derrick was employed as a CID Detective. In his role as Secretary Derrick kept us in good order! He was instrumental in ensuring that the goals of our association were properly managed. The years from 1984-1996 were a very bright chapter for SOA. We remember Derrick with much affection and respect."

Dawn Harding

Dawn Harding died in hospital just before Christmas and was the wife of Past President John Harding. As a non-organist her presidential year also included during organ visits activities for other non-players to do. Her skills in the kitchen were legendary and teas after events took on a whole new level of excellence. Her funeral will be on Wednesday 23rd January at 3.45pm at Seven Hills Crematorium.

Peter Jaackaman

Earlier in the year, Peter Jackaman, organist for more tham 50 years at Bramford Parish Church died on the 29 March 2018. His funeral took place on 2 May at 11.15am in that church. He was a very loyal member of our Association for very many years.

Don Monro

We also remember Don Monro, a stalwart member of our Associaton and a frequent attendee on many of our visits whose funeral was at Thorpe le Soken parish church in January 2018 and another dedicated post holder for more than half a century.

Andrew Garfath-Cox Hon. Web Administrator and a Past President