We are immensely sad to report the death of SWO patron Catherine Ennis on Christmas Eve. Catherine joined SWO at its outset and we were proud to have the support of such a positive force in the organ world. Catherine’s energy, warmth, musicality, and leadership skills made her a shining example to all organists, especially to SWO members. She will be sorely missed, both professionally and personally.
It is particularly painful to record Catherine’s death after we lost another valued patron, Jennifer Bate OBE, earlier in 2020.
Catherine Ennis was Director of Music at the City of London church of St. Lawrence Jewry. Her term as President of the Royal College of Organists embraced the College’s 150th anniversary celebrations throughout 2014. Catherine began her career as Organ Scholar at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, and later as Assistant Organist of Christ Church Cathedral. Her subsequent career as recitalist and recording artist took her to many international venues. She gave masterclasses throughout the UK and abroad, and was a frequent examiner and adjudicator for colleges and festivals. As a fundraiser and organ consultant, she helped create three ground-breaking London organs. In directing and participating in the flourishing Tuesday lunchtime recital series at St. Lawrence Jewry, Catherine was devoted to providing a platform for young artists at the organ. She was Director of the John Hill memorial recitals, a Trustee of the Nicholas Danby Trust and a past President of the Incorporated Association of Organists. She was awarded the Medal of the Royal College of Organists in 2018.
Tom Bell was born in Liverpool and raised in Lancashire. He studied with Kevin Bowyer at the Royal Northern College of Music, with Ann Elise Smoot in London, and with Jacques van Oortmerssen in Amsterdam. One of the leading performers of his generation, Tom has performed extensively across mainland Europe and the USA. His repertoire is broad, but a love of new music means that many of Tom’s performances have been innovative firsts. Tom is Artistic Director to the London Organ Day, teaches the organ for the Royal College of Organists and the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk, and has led or participated in many outreach projects, including Heritage Lottery-backed schemes in the City of London, Wimbledon and Southall, and the long-running Organworks project at Eton College, which works with schools in Slough. Tom is Royal College of Organists Director for the North of England, North Wales and the Isle of Man.
Harry Wakefield Bramma is a British organist and composer of Anglican church music. He was educated at Bradford Grammar School, studying organ with Melville Cook, organist of Leeds Parish Church. He read theology and music at Oxford University, studying as Organ Scholar of Pembroke College. He graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1958 and a Master of Arts in 1960. Harry Bramma initially started a career in teaching. His students at the King's School, Retford, included a number of noted musicians, among them Nicholas Cleobury, Stephen Cleobury, Andrew Millington, Jonathan Nott, Adrian Partington and Geoffrey Webber. In 1976 he became Organist and Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral, and in 1989 moved on to become Director of the Royal School of Church Music. He was Director of Music at All Saints, Margaret Street, from 1989–2004.
Sarah MacDonald is a Canadian organist, conductor, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. She studied in the Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto and at the University of Cambridge. Her teachers included Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, John Tuttle, and David Sanger. She leads a busy international career directing, writing, recording, and composing.
William McVicker is Organ Curator at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Director of Music at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich. He is Chairman of the Association of Independent Organ Advisors, Professor of Organology at the Royal Academy of Music, Organs Adviser to the Diocese of Southwark and to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE).
He has performed at numerous prestigious venues, including the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey, and King’s College, Cambridge. Concert highlights have included solo appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and, with Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria, he has performed Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphony (three times), Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass. Recent recital and consultancy work has taken him to New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Nigeria, and Penang in Malaysia. An Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology, William was recently elected an Honorary Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.