Musical Extravaganza - All Saints Woodford Wells
Four Organists and a Choir (fundraising concert on 18/03/2017)
By David Sutton

All Saints Woodford WellsAfter serving the church well over the past 60 years, the All Saints Woodford Wells organ (Henry Willis rebuilt by J.W. Walker) at is now sadly showing signs of old age with three stops off on the Choir Organ (jammed slides), several dodgy notes on the Great and various failures on the piston front etc etc.

A “sticking plaster” regime to keep it going, which has been operating over the past few years, is now no longer a viable option. So, if the church wants to keep its wonderful Willis for the future, a rebuild is now on the cards. And this will, of course, involve considerable expense.

Started by the former choir director and organist Ed Whitehead, a series of recitals and musical fundraising events have taken place and, on the whole, they have been well attended. So, when the idea for this event took root, it was anticipated that the result would be similar.

CLESO Voices, a choir formed in September 2016 for CLESO’s concert held at Christ the King Chingford, was recalled and, as the September format was so successful, the same was adopted for the All Saints event …the format being a composite recital of several CLESO organists together with singing by CLESO Voices.

Four CLESO members: Charles Whitham, Mark James, Roderick Sime and Ed Kemp-Luck each contributed their own selection of pieces which showed off their style and the romantic nature of the instrument. CLESO Voices, accompanied so ably by Ed, demonstrated a ready musicality and gave a sensitive and powerful performance. It also showed what a marvellous accompanying instrument the Willis is with its flexibility and range of tones (those which worked!).

There was an estimated number perhaps approaching 150 seated in the audience. During the interval and afterwards there were numerous comments expressing pleasure at the whole event. All Saints PA/AV technology was used and the organists were displayed on the screens for all to witness their dexterity and skill as they played.

There was a stupendous result in the donation plates on the day of at least 1500 and later someone very generously gave an additional 1000 making a grand total of over 2500 (allowing for Gift Aid). The writer is told that there will be more to come, so watch this space.

All Saints Church is indebted to CLESO for its contribution to this event because, without its members’ skills and dedication, it could never have happened. CLESO should be proud of itself!

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