ALTON ORGAN SOCIETY (Founded 1967) ♬♪𝄞 Updated Wednesday 7 February 2024

Alton Organ Society's 2023/2024 Season of Organ Concerts
Organ Recitals Nationwide

Well over 50 people attended John Challenger's (Salisbury Cathedral) organ concert at St Lawrence Church on Tuesday 6 February. Maybe they had some insight into what proved to be a truly outstanding concert given by a gifted musician. John opened his programme with the challenging Prelude & Fugue in E minor (BWV 548) ("The Wedge") with remarkable expertise, musicianship and panache. It was evident we were in for a treat and his well chosen programme indicated that "variety" was the aim of his concert. William Byrd (1543-1623) was next with an equally challenging Fantasia in A minor played on manuals. The speed and dexterity of his playing was impressive and probably brought a new experience of Byrd's music to the audience. William Lloyd-Webber (father of Julian and Andrew) was, in his time, a distinguished organist and his "Benedictus" was a joy to hear composed in a traditionally English style full of delicious harmonies. In contrast, John's programme included, next, three French pieces including Clair de lune by Louis Vierne who, despite his almost complete blindness, captured the beauty of nature he would have been denied visually. It is only recently that 19th century female composers have, at last, been credited with their compositional skills aptly demonstrated with John's performance of Germaine Tailleferre's "Nocturne" and Nadia Boulanger's "Improvisation". Holst's Planet Suite is a great orchestral favourite of the public and frequently played on Classic FM. However, John played his own organ transcription of "Venus, the bringer of peace" demonstrating the wonderful colours of the Speechly organ. John concluded his programme with a stirring performance of Herbert Howell's 3rd Rhapsody. The icing on the cake of John's performance was his oral programme notes in which he described each piece so clearly punctuated with the occasional anecdote. It was a night to remember mainly through this young man's charming personality and brilliant organ playing. His programme can be viewed here.

David Hill MBE organist and International Choral Director, Patron of the Alton Organ Society and currently President of the Royal College of Organists very kindly recorded a CD on the St Lawrence Church, Alton, organ to celebrate 55 years of the Organ Society and to raise funds for the restoration of the Speechly organ. The music was recorded by Herald AV Publications, a specialist recording company, in October 2022. The CD was launched at St Lawrence Church, Alton on Tuesday 4 October 2022. The CD costs £15 of which £3.00 of the purchase price will go towards the organ restoration fund. David's CD was reviewed by Choir & Organ Magazine and copies of that review and Graeme Kay's article on the Society can be seen here. The CD can be purchased from members of the Society Committee, from Resurrection Furniture in Alton and at the Society's Organ Concerts. For further details and purchase of a CD do use the contact page here.Admission to the organ concerts is £10 at the door (free admission to full time students under the age of 18) or you could take out Season Membership at £60 equivalent to £7.50 for each of the eight concerts held between October 2023 and May 2024 - application forms can be downloaded here.

There is a new website that lists national organ concerts (including those held in Alton) and can be viewed here. Please list & Organ Recitals Nationwide among your favourites.