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The Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters (USOC)
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).
Dr Derek Collins ARCO
Message from the President Dr Derek Collins ARCO
Welcome to the Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters.
I am delighted to have been elected President of USOC for 2021-22. Public health concerns in recent times have obliged the Society initially to suspend meetings and events, and in 2021 to promote events online. These events have been most interesting and rewarding and have enabled the Society to remain active during difficult times. As conditions have allowed, the Society has resumed in-person events, and we are delighted to offer a varied programme of events for 2022 which we hope will appeal not only to organists, choir directors, and singers, but to everyone with an interest in organ, choral and church music.
Please see details on our Events page. I would encourage all members to come along and attend events. I am certain that you will enjoy the events themselves and the opportunity to resume conversations and connections as we resume in-person events. We are always interested in hearing ideas for future events, so please pass on your suggestions to members of the Committee or the Hon. Secretary.
If you are not already a member, you are most welcome to attend any of our events and you may then wish to consider joining us as a member. You will receive a very 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...