Essex Organists’ Association
for Organists and Organ Enthusiasts


​Formerly the Chelmsford and District Organists' Association
Affiliated to The Incorporated Association of Organists

Forthcoming events


With lessening Covid restrictions we have fully resumed meeting in person! There may be members who would like to join us but have transport difficulties. If this is the case for you, please do email the Association at organistassociation@gmail.com so that we can try to put you in touch with members attending events who may be able to help you with this.

Saturday 26th November - An all day visit to see, hear and play organs in the City of London

It has been a few years since the Association visited Central London for a day’s organ playing. EOA Vice-Chairman Richard Nott has very kindly organized an exciting day for us, and we do hope that members will take the opportunity to join us on this occasion as this is a rare chance to play three important organs all within the City of London. The timetable for the day is as follows:

10.30am St James’ Church, Garlickhythe, Garlick Hill, EC4V 2AF: This is the church where Sir Andrew Parmley, currently Chief Executive of the RCO and a former Lord Mayor of London, has been Director of Music for over 35 years. (Members will remember Sir Andrew being an excellent speaker at the EOA lunch in January 2022.)

2pm St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, St Michael’s Alley, EC3V 9DS: This is a very famous medieval church, burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1857 and 1860. This is also the church where Dr Harold Darke was once the Director of Music and has the longest running lunchtime concert series in the world which he founded in 1916. Today, we are welcomed by the current Director of Music, Jonathan Rennert, who has been in post for many years.

3.45pm St Vedast alias Foster Church, Foster Lane, EC2V 6HH The medieval church of St Vedast alias Foster is probably less well-known than it should be, due to its very close proximity to St Paul’s Cathedral. However, this has a vibrant ministry to city workers and those who worship there on a Sunday. Jonathan Ramadan, the Director of Music is unable to be with us today. Noel Mander was a previous churchwarden, which is how the organ came to be installed in the church after being in three other venues previously!

Travel will be via public transport, and this is one of the few Saturdays in November when there is a normal service on the mainline railway from Essex into Liverpool Street. The cost for those taking part in the day will be £10 per player and £5 for non-players. Please book your place by emailing Richard Nott at richard@rjnott.co.uk as soon as possible. Members taking part in this visit, may also be interested to note that the St Paul’s Cathedral Advent Procession/carol service takes place at 5.30pm, and which is not far from our last venue, St Vedast.

Saturday 14th January - An illustrated talk on organ & choral music by women composers past and present, by Katherine Dienes-Williams in Brentwood RC Cathedral

Your President and Committee are very pleased to be able to welcome Katherine Dienes Williams to Essex for this event, where she will give an illustrated talk on the organ and choral music of women composers, using recordings and the wonderful organ of St Mary & St Helen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Brentwood. Originally from New Zealand, Katherine Dienes-Williams was the first women to be appointed to the role of Organist & Master of the Music (or equivalent senior post) at an English cathedral, when she took up this post at Guildford Cathedral in January 2008, following six years as Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, Warwick. She was, therefore, the first ever women to be elected to the Cathedral Organists’ Association. Prior to her appointment at Warwick, and from when she came to England in 1991, she was Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral & Assistant Organist at Winchester College, and Organist and Assistant Director of Music at both Liverpool Metropolitan and Norwich Cathedrals.

Katherine is a member of the Councils of the Royal College of Organists and the Society of Women Organists. Her work takes her across the world, and she is passionate about promoting the music of women composers. It was this interest that spurred her to programme a whole month’s music by women composers at Guildford Cathedral. We look forward to discovering much about these important composers and hearing Katherine play and speak to us.

The cost of this event is £10 per person. Brentwood Cathedral (CM15 8AT) is found right in the centre of Brentwood and has a spacious car park which is entered through gates off Ingrave Road. For those wishing to come by public transport, it is a 15 mins walk uphill from Brentwood Station, or can be reached by bus from Shenfield Station. For the purposes of refreshments, it would be helpful if you would like to join us for this event, for you to email EOA Committee Member, Stephen King, as soon as possible, using stephenking099@gmail.com

Other EOA events in the pipeline for 2022 and 2023 for your diaries include:
  • Saturday 4th February 2023 – An all-day visit to see, hear and play organs in Romford, including St Edward’s Parish Church & Romford URC.
  • Saturday 25th March 2023 – A lecture-recital on North German organ music before J S Bach by Dr Gillian Ward Russell.
  • Saturday 27th May 2023 – Chelmsford Cathedral, a joint event with members of the other Associations in the IAO London & Eastern region, based around French organ music in the liturgy, particularly the Couperin Masses and de Grigny’s hymns.
  • Saturday 10th June 2023 – The 73rd AGM of the Association and an illustrated presentation by Jonathan Lilley on the life and music of Joseph Jongen at Waltham Abbey Church.
  • Tuesday 24th-Thursday 26th October 2023 - Extended visit to Paris.

Further details about all of these will be given in January.

Non-EOA Events
Events Promoted by Members

As we are returning to more active lives, please do remember to send your contributions to the list of organ recitals and concerts that you or your church are going to perform. Please send these to the EOA email address: organistassociation@gmail.com .

Members may wish to note the following two dates, which we have traditionally supported over the years:
  • Bloomsbury Organ Day: Sat 28th January 2023 – “Trocadero and Town Halls” at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, featuring Daniel Greenaway, Simon Gledhill & EOA member, Richard Brasier. Bloomsbury Organ Day 2023 (organistsonline.org)
  • IAO London Organ Day: Sat 11th March 2023 at Chelsea Old Church, SW3 5LT, keep an eye for more details on London Organ Day - The Incorporated Association of Organists (iao.org.uk)

Here is a list of organ recitals and members’ concerts in our area (don’t forget to check with the venue before you travel that the event is still happening!):
  • Tuesday 22nd November at 1.10pm, St George’s, Hanover Square, London Stephen King (Brentwood Cathedral)
  • Tuesday 13th December at 1pm, Moot Hall, Colchester Music for Christmas from Dr Ian Ray (Borough Organist) & Marenzio Quintet
  • Thursday 29th December, Twixtmas Social Gathering in Ridgewell: EOA members Michaela Cottee, Dave Kynnersley and Lyndon Ford cordially invite other EOA members to join them for a Twixtmas Social Gathering in Ridgewell on Thursday 29th December from 3pm onwards. There will be lots of food and drink, together with an opportunity to make music on Michaela’s 3 manual Wyvern digital organ – so do bring your shoes and some music with you. There’s no charge but it would be useful to have an idea of numbers for catering purposes, so please contact MichaelaCottee@gmail.com in advance if you would like to join us, or if you need directions or have any queries. Family members and friends are also welcome.
  • Saturday 7th January 2023 6pm, St George’s Lutheran Church, London E1 8EB Johannes Geffert (Cologne/Bonn) plays for the Organ Vesper.
  • Saturday 4th February 2023 6pm, St George’s Lutheran Church, London E1 8EB Daniel Moult (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) plays for the Organ Vesper.
Recent Events
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Sat 23rd October - "The Life and Music of Louis Vierne" - an illustrated talk by Peter Crompton


It was very good to return once again to Broomfield Church Hall as we welcomed Peter Crompton for an afternoon’s talk (illustrated with CD tracks) on the life and work of the great French organist Louis Vierne (1870-1937) and those composers who he was influenced by and who Vierne in term influenced. All who attended were treated to some wonderful informative anecdotes, some delightful recordings (including Vierne himself playing) and came away much more enlightened as to how approachable Vierne’s music was, and how important he is in the French organ school of the 19th and 20th centuries.
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Sat 27th November – Organ Recital by Simon Hogan (formerly at Southwell Minster)

We were delighted that Simon Hogan, formerly Assistant Organist of Southwell Minster, and now Organist of St Bartholomew the Great in London, gave a fantastic recital on the organ of St Mary the Virgin, Shenfield. Simon lives in Chelmsford and is married to Hilary Punnett (Assistant Director of Music at Chelmsford Cathedral) and many members will have been at Hilary’s excellent recital at Shenfield in February 2020. Simon's playing really showed off the colours of the organ, whilst demonstrating his talent and skill in playing very high-level repertoire for us.
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Saturday 22nd January – EOA Lunch at Chelmsford Cathedral with guest speaker, Sir Andrew Parmley

We were delighted to have Sir Andrew Parmley as the guest speaker for an Association Lunch, in The Chapter House of Chelmsford Cathedral, on Saturday 22nd January 2022. Sir Andrew spoke to us about his role as Chief Executive of the Royal College of Organists and his time as Lord Mayor of London, and a wonderful buffet lunch was enjoyed by everyone.
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Sat 26th February – Workshop-masterclass on performing (and registering) English Romantic Organ Music, Brentwood School Chapel

A handful of members joined our President, Philip Prior, in Brentwood School Chapel, with its fine Father Willis organ, for an afternoon’s workshop-masterclass on performing and registering English Romantic organ music. Philip began by playing the three-part Lenten organ piece, Clarifica me Pater by Thomas Tallis (1505-85), followed immediately by the last few pages of Master Tallis’ Testament by Herbert Howells (1892-1983), asking the audience to consider the huge musical contrasts between the pieces and the reasons for the massive change in the 400 years between when these two pieces were composed! These included the invention of the Swell box in 1712, to allow more dynamic control and expression, the desire for bigger and louder organs (with instruments showcased at the Great Exhibition of 1851 from builders like Hill and Willis), and the use of pedals in English music championed by composers such as William Russell and Felix Mendelssohn in his 6 Sonatas. Our thanks to the School Organist, Sam Barber, for hosting us for this event.
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Saturday 12th March - All day visit to organs in Maldon

A party of members and friends visited three organs in Maldon on a glorious Spring day. Some met for a late brunch to fortify us for the day’s events and others met us at All Saints Parish Church, where Dr Stuart Pegler a former EOA Committee member is Director of Music. We then moved to the Catholic church of the Assumption of Our Lady, where we enjoyed a friendly welcome from the priest and refreshments, along with the chance to play the 2 manual & pedal organ, originally by Gray & Davison and last rebuilt by local organ builder and EOA Member, Peter Wood. Our final venue was St Mary’s Church by the quay, with its lovely views of the coast and where our member Colin Baldy welcomed us as Director of Music at St Mary’s.
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Saturday 2nd April 2pm - "The Orchestral Organist" - an illustrated talk on the organ and its role in the orchestra by Roderick Elms

In April we returned to the Pelly Room, Boreham after a few years, as we were delighted to welcome Roderick Elms to give us a presentation entitled “The Orchestral Organist”. Roderick explained to us how the organ and organist fits into the orchestra across many examples larger works, illustrated with many CD extracts as well as a booklet of study scores for us all to look at. Members who attended and those who didn’t will be interested in Roderick’s own website where details of his compositions, arrangements, recordings and recent book “Just a little from the top” can be found: www.masterkeyboards.co.uk.
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Saturday 14th May - A visit to see, hear and play organs in Braintree and Bocking churches

In 1950, when the Chelmsford Association was reformed after the war, its first visit was to organs in Braintree. We had planned this visit to originally take place in 2020, but the Covid pandemic meant that this was the earliest we can run this event. We visited three churches in Bocking and central Braintree. We began at St Mary’s Church, Bocking, where the church’s Director of Music and EOA Member, Gareth Bennett, welcomed us and briefly demonstrated the 2 manual and pedal organ before members had a chance to play. Following an excellent pub lunch at The White Hart in the centre of Braintree, we moved to Our Lady, Queen of Peace RC Church in Braintree. Finally, we headed back down to the church of St Peters-in-the Field, Bocking where we were met by the church’s Director of Music, David Wood. Our thanks to the church for providing excellent refreshments and to EOA Committee member Andrew Stevens for organising an excellent day.

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Saturday 11th June - the 72nd Annual General Meeting including visits to Haverhill and Clare

A handful of members joined us to start our day in the beautiful Suffolk market town of Clare, with its picturesque East Anglian buildings and its big parish church of St Peter & St Paul: we were very warmly welcomed by the Director of Music, David Musgrove, after which members played. After an excellent lunch at The Swan pub in Clare, we drove to The Old Independent Church in Haverhill, where we were joined by other members for our 72nd AGM. Our thanks to Michaela Cottee for arranging the venues for this event and providing coffee and tea at the AGM.

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Saturday 16th July - All day visit to see, hear, and play organs in Gorleston & Lowestoft in Suffolk (a joint visit with The Organ Club)

We were delighted to join with The Organ Club for a joint visit to Gorleston & Lowestoft to see, hear and play 4 very interesting organs. We started at St Andrew's Church, Gorleston, travelled inland to the church of St John the Baptist, Lound, on to Our Lady Start of the Seas RC Church, Lowestoft, and finally to St Peter and St John Church, Kirkley. Our thanks go to Andrew Stevens for organising the day and the gorgeous weather!
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Saturday 6th August - Summer Party at Ridgewell

Our thanks to Michaela and Dave for their excellent hospitality hosting our summer party this year at their beautiful home. Members and their families enjoyed the chance to meet and enjoy a wonderful buffet, and to play Michaela's new 3 manual and pedal Wyvern electronic organ: it was super to see some of our younger friends exploring the organ and the sounds possible from it for the first time, in duet!
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Tuesday 20th - Thursday 22nd September 2022 – Extended Visit to Organs in Bristol

Eight EOA members and friends took part in our extended visit to Bristol, and enjoyed a fantastic two and a half days of organ playing, friendship and excellent food. On the Tuesday we were warmly welcomed at Bristol Cathedral. On Wednesday we visited Christ Church with St Ewen, Bristol City and the church of St Mary, Redcliffe. Finally, on Thursday we visited All Saints, Clifton and Redland Park URC. All in all, an amazingly contrasting set of large instruments to play over the three days.
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Saturday 22nd October "Meet the Organ" event for young people

It was a great delight for your President and Vice-Chairman to welcome 8 students under 16 and their parents to join us for this important event at Felsted School and Holy Cross Church next door, as part of our outreach to younger people. The event was run as a collaboration with Felsted School and our Essex Organ Academy as we try to encourage more young people to take up the organ and to encourage new church organists for the future. The two main tutors for the event were Will Warns (from Felsted School), and EOA and Academy President Philip Prior, with support from Richard Nott, and another school staff member. This was a very worthwhile experience for the young people who came, and one which we will run again in the future as part of our vision to grow the Association and its Academy further.
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