Organists converge on Stoughton

Stoughton organ recital: Martin Phillips
Stoughton organ recital: Martin Phillips
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Traditional and contemporary pieces will feature in an organ recital at St Mary’s Church, Stoughton on Thursday, May 18.

The organists all live in the South Downs National Park area, Juliet Bass, Barry Newton and Martin Phillips. Barry and Martin also play regularly at St Paul’s, Northgate.

Spokesman Charles Lawton said: “The recital is being sponsored by the Friends of St Mary’s, Stoughton and the proceeds will help towards the upkeep of the fabric of this very ancient building.

“The organ is believed to be a Willis organ installed initially in a chapel in Llanrumney, North Wales. It was installed in the Church of St Mary’s, Stoughton in 1994 and in 2008 it was completely rebuilt to better suit the acoustics of the building. It now provides a magnificent sound well suited to the size and volume of the church.

“The church itself is of great interest and is one of the oldest structures still standing on their original site in the South Downs. It is very largely of Saxon construction having been built between 1035 and 1050.

“The Friends of St Mary’s is a secular charitable trust set up in 1978 to provide funds for the maintenance of the fabric of the building and has raised many thousands of pounds over the years to ensure that the structure remains in good order.

“The building has the most incredible aura of peace and tranquility. This is witnessed by the many comments in the well-used visitors book.

“Our recital will take the format of three 20-minute segments with an intermission between the second and the third to allow refreshments to be taken. There will be wine and canapés/nibbles available for a donation. An audio-visual projector will screen the performance.

“The event is planned for Thursday, May 18 starting at 7.30pm and running until around 9.45pm. Tickets will be £10 available either on the door or beforehand from: Charles Lawton on 02392 631132; Heather Kearley on 02392 631531; or Steve Goodall on 02392 631199.

“The idea overall is to use this beautiful space with its wonderful organ not only to entertain but also to allow people to experience the power of this historic and moving place.”

Barry Newton started learning the piano at the age of seven, and at 14 started organ lessons with Ian Fox at Chichester Cathedral. In recent years he has had lessons with Alan Thurlow and Mark Wardell.

In 1980 he joined the army and played various instruments in the Regimental Band of the 3rd Battalion The Queen’s Regiment. While stationed with the band in West Germany, he toured Denmark, Berlin and Canada.

Barry is one of the organists at St Paul’s Church, Chichester. He was the chapel organist to the Royal Military Police Training School in Chichester and then at the Defence College of Policing, Southwick Park until November 2008.

Martin Phillips started playing the electronic organ at the age of 11. It was whilst at Chichester High School for Boys that he started singing in the school choir under the leadership of George Ayling, and sang solo on several occasions in Chichester Cathedral at school carol services. Martin went on to join the choir at the sub-deanery of church St Peter the Great, Chichester (now a pub) which resulted in him turning his attention to the church organ, gaining much encouragement from the organist and choir master Michael Brittai

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