Essex Organists’ Association

for Organists and Organ Enthusiasts

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

 Past events


Saturday 26th November 2022 – An all day visit to see, hear and play organs in the City of London

EOA Vice-Chairman Richard Nott very kindly organized an exciting day for us – a rare chance to play three important organs all within the City of London. EOA visited St James’ Church, Garlickhythe (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), St Michael’s Church, Cornhill (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, 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), and St Vedast alias Foster Church (a medieval church of St Vedast alias Foster with a vibrant ministry to city workers and those who worship there on a Sunday).

Saturday 14th January 2023 – 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 were very pleased to be able to welcome Katherine Dienes Williams (Organist & Master of the Music at Guildford Cathedral) to give an illustrated talk on the organ and choral music of women composers, in the lovely surroundings of St Mary & St Helen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Brentwood. Katherine is a very experienced cathedral organist, and enthusiastic ambassador of both cathedral music and encouraging more performances of organ and choral music by female composers, something which became very apparent to all those who listened to her fantastic presentation. Katherine covered many composers from across the centuries in her talk, and explained that it was this interest that spurred her to programme a whole month’s music by women composers at Guildford Cathedral some years ago, and also in her planning for the cathedral choir to sing on Wednesday 1st March 2023 BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong for International Women’s Day. Katherine had also prepared a very comprehensive hand-out for the event – do contact your President, Philip Prior, if you want a copy of this, as he has the spares.

Saturday 4th February 2023 – An all-day visit to see, hear and play organs in Romford

A handful of members were able to enjoy a very good day’s playing and friendship in the market town of Romford, in the London side of our county.We visited three organs in the large market town of Romford, in East London. In the morning we visited St Edward the Confessor Parish Church, Romford, then St Andrew’s Church, Romford, before a very good lunch at the Golden Lion. In the afternoon we visited Trinity Methodist Church, Romford. Many thanks to Stephen King for organising the day out!

Saturday 25th March 2023 – A lecture-recital on North German organ music before J S Bach by Dr Gillian Ward Russell at St Mary’s Church, Maldon

Members will all be aware of the phenomenal importance of the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach and I’m sure that many members will play some of it themselves. But what happened in North Germany prior to Bach’s incredible appearance on the organ scene in around 1700, when the names of Buxtehude and Pachelbel are only those most people are able to recall? And where were the influences on North German music at that time coming from? All these and other questions were answered in former EOA President, Dr Gillian Ward Russell’s well-researched lecture-recital.

Saturday 22nd April 2023 – All day visit to organs near Gt Bromley & St Osyth

A party of just about 10 EOA members and guests enjoyed a superb day’s playing in the far eastern extremities of Essex, as EOA Committee Member, Dr Fiona Bodmer, very kindly arranged a full day’s outing to four very different village organs, including both the churches she plays at regularly on a Sunday. We began at our day at St Peter & St Paul, in St Osyth where the very pleasant 2 manual and pedal 18 stop tracker action pipe organ, had been built in 1907 by W E Richardson & Sons of Manchester. Our second venue, before lunch, was the beautifully sited church of St Mary the Virgin in Great Bentley, with features including a beautiful doorway dating from Norman times. After a fantastic group lunch just across the largest village green in the country at Restaurant 43 in Great Bentley, we journeyed to St Mary Magdalene in Thorrington, where EOA Member Peter Clayton, is the organist. Our final venue for the day was the church of St George in Great Bromley, where Gregory Frostick, welcomed us and gave us a demonstration of the very beautiful 1 manual and pedals 1867 J W Walker organ.  Our thanks must be reiterated to Dr Fiona Bodmer for all her work in planning and organising such a great event for us to enjoy!

Saturday 27th May 2023 – IAO Eastern Regional Day, Chelmsford Cathedral – studying the music of Couperin and de Grigny

This event promised to be an exciting all-day joint event with members of the other Associations in the IAO London & Eastern region, based around French organ music in the liturgy, with artistic directors Philip Prior (EOA) & James Davy (Chelmsford Cathedral) and those who attended were certainly not disappointed. James Davy and Philip Prior had put together a programme based around the music of Francois Couperin and Nicholas de Grigny, where the uniqueness of Chelmsford Cathedral’s two organs could really be shown off within the context and liturgy of French Baroque music. William Whitehead gave an excellent presentation on the two composers’ music and dealt with stylistic performance questions, whilst illustrating points with a wide range of recordings from French organs and organists. After lunch, three players took part in a masterclass on the two Couperin Masses and the de Grigny Office Hymn Veni Creator: Dr Gillian Ward Russell (from Essex), Tim Patient (from Norfolk) and Edward Dodge (from Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Association). After this, participants could either listen to a presentation by Richard Brasier on editing a new Franck edition or attend a rehearsal to learn the music for the concluding service. Following a break for tea and coffee, came the service of sung plainsong vespers for the eve of the Feast of Pentecost, including organ music from the masterclass players, in the context of the service and as voluntaries, using the chancel organ to accompany the choir, whilst the organ pieces were played on the nave organ, in true French style. It was an inspirational day in many ways, and everyone who came will have taken away something from it. Our thanks to James Davy and Philip Prior for masterminding the day unusually focusing on this style of music for such an event.

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

We were delighted to be able to return to Waltham Abbey Church for our 73rd AGM this year, where EOA Committee member Jonathan Lilley is the Director of Music. Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place in the church, and, although only 9 members of the Association attended, it was very positive occasion to celebrate and review the year past. We were sorry to say goodbye to our Minutes Secretary, Stephen King and Vice-Chairman, Hon. Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Richard Nott who both have left our committee after several years of valuable service for the Association, and we welcome Lyndon Ford to the committee for the first time as an Ordinary Committee Member. After delicious refreshments provided by the church, Jonathan Lilley presented an Illustrated Presentation on the Belgian organist and composer, Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), who celebrates both the 150th anniversary of his birth as well as the 70th anniversary of his death in 2023. Our thanks go to Jonathan for hosting us once again, to the abbey for providing excellent refreshments, and to Jonathan for all his time in putting together a superb voyage of discovery through the music of a composer we should all know better!

Sunday 16th July 2023 – “A Byrd in the Hand” a lecture-recital by Dr Richard
Overill on the life and music of William Byrd at St Nicholas

In this, the 400th anniversary year of the death of the Essex composer, William Byrd (1540-1623), for our July event, EOA members were very pleased to be able to support EOA Member Dr Richard Overill’s lecture-recital, “A Byrd in the Hand”, at St Nicholas Church in Witham.

Saturday 5th August 2023 – Summer Party in Colchester

We were very grateful to EOA President Philip Prior and his girlfriend, Emma, for hosting this year’s summer party at their house in central Colchester. 10 EOA members and friends joined together for what was a very enjoyable time of good food, drinking, chatting and friendship. In true tradition for a summer party it rained, precluding us from sitting outside. Nonetheless, Philip and Emma had provided a varied hot and cold buffet for us to consume and the G & Ts and wine flowed around the dining table as well. Some members also tried out Philip’s 3 manual & pedal Viscount electronic organ in the organ studio. There was also a chance to bring and buy second hand organ music in aid of our Christopher Kingsley Fund for Young Organists. Bargains were to be had, and so this is something which your committee has decided that will carry on at future events: see details in separate section below. Our thanks to Philip and Emma for their hospitality in hosting this year’s summer party.

Saturday 20th September 2023 – All day visit to organs in Basildon inc. St Martin’s

We visited two very different venues for this all-day visit to the Basildon area. First was St Michael’s Fobbing which is a lovely medieval church, overlooking the modern Thames Gateway development by the River Thames. After lunch at The White Lion in Fobbing we headed to St Martin of Tours, a large airy modern church, with a detached drawstop console at the East End.


Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26th October 2023 – Extended visit to organs in the Portsmouth and Southampton area