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The Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters (USOC)
COVID-19: Please note that all USOC Events have been suspended until further notice.
The principal aims of USOC are to:
- promote high standards in the selection and performance of church music, organ and choral;
- uphold the status of the profession of church musician and to safeguard its interests;
- promote a wider public interest in organ and choral music.
The Ulster Society of Organists & Choirmasters, or USOC as it is more widely known, was formed in 1918, thus achieving its first century in 2018. Currently the Society enjoys a membership of just under 200, and serves the Province of Ulster; however, amongst the Society’s members are valued enthusiasts who live and work in Great Britain and beyond. There are also a number of honorary and student members in the ranks.
Membership is cross community and is open to anyone who is interested in church music, with particular reference to the organ and the choir. Musical ability is not a pre-requisite to join, and membership ranges from amateur to accomplished professional musicians as well as enthusiasts who simply enjoy organ and church music.
The Society runs a programme of activities during the year and these are scheduled monthly except over the summer months July & August. They include events places where church and general music is performed – the Society does not have premises of its own. On these visits members attend talks, to hear and play organs and listen to choirs of particular interest, and participate in workshops on performance related topics led by prominent organists and choir directors.
There are always ample opportunities to participate in discussion and to make contacts with others involved in these kinds of music. Events may be led by current members of the Society or by musicians from outside the Province.
Each year in May, the Society runs weekend visits to other parts of the UK, and beyond. In recent years, there have been visits to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford, London, York, Bristol, East Anglia, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin. Already this year USOC has paid visits to Athlone and Longford Cathedrals. These visits are all very well attended and are very popular with members. News Bulletins and Newsletters are published by USOC every six weeks or so, mainly in electronic form, although some members choose to receive copies in hard print.
The Society is affiliated to the Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO), which publishes the Organists’ Review – a popular national publication which appears quarterly. USOC also has links with the Charles Wood Festival in Armagh, with the Royal College of Organists and with the Royal School of Church Music.
The Society has a travel fund to assist student attendances at choral and/or organ courses throughout the UK and Ireland; the definition of student in this respect is widely interpreted! USOC is enabled to do this thanks to a legacy left by the late Arthur Beggs, a long-serving member of the Society who wanted students to experience what he had enjoyed from his membership. The initial fund has been enhanced by other benefactors from amongst the members to form the USOC Arthur Beggs Travel Fund (USOC ABTFund).
Message from the President Revd Dr Ian Mills ARCO
It has been an honour for me to be elected USOC’s President in January 2019. It is my hope that our website is informative and entertaining for both members and non-members. I encourage all our members to support the work of the Committee and to attaend events. The programme for this year is shown on this home page. If you are not a member already, you are welcome to attend any of our event sand I encourage you then to consider joining us as a member. You will receive a warm welcome.
This website has been constructed to assist members as well as those who want to find out more about USOC. Accordingly there are a number of pages available and those visiting the website are encouraged to access the various tabs for further information.
Some of our latest newsletter articles…
Message from the President: It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of our highly esteemed Honorary Member and former President, Mr David McElderry. David’s life-long contribution to organ and...
David Drinkell BA FRCO [CHM] ADCM ARCM An Essex man, David Drinkell was educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School and studied organ with Rodney Tomkins at Walsingham. He was an undergraduate at Bristol...
THOMAS OSPITAL will be visiting Belfast 14/15 September this year as a guest of the Dunleath Organ Scholarship Trust [Chairman Professor Emeritus Desmond Hunter] and USOC [President Revd Dr Ian Mills]. Now...