January 2010

The Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held at St.Katharine’s Church Merstham on 23rd January and was attended by 21 members. This Church is no stranger to meetings of ESOA, and a succession of members have been organists there. The present holder of that position, Adam Binks, welcomed us and gave us a talk on Kenneth Leighton. Adam has a degree in music from Edinburgh, where he wrote his doctoral thesis on Leighton, and now, as a visiting research fellow with access to the Leighton archive, he is writing a biography of the composer.

Adam gave us a concise outline of the composer’s life and work: he was born in 1929 and died in 1988, started composing at the age of 9 and was a prodigious pianist. After studying music and classics (!) at Oxford he held a number of academic posts before settling in Edinburgh, where he was happiest. Leighton wrote a few pieces for the solo organ, though he was not greatly interested in it except as an accompaniment for choral works or with other instruments. He was a major figure among his contemporaries like Vaughan Williams and Finzi, but broke away from the strictly English school to compose in his own idiom.

Adam gave us some musical illustrations: Paean, and Prelude on Rockingham, which he played himself, and recordings of a setting of the Coventry Carol and Ite Missa Est, the finale of Leighton’s Organ Mass, a gloriously triumphant conclusion to what had been a most interesting and instructive talk, which was much appreciated.

 The business meeting followed after tea in the church hall.