A NEW group is hoping to foster a love of organ music.

The South Wessex Organ Society is launching with a special choral evensong and recital at St Michael's Church in Lyme Regis later this month.

The society has launched as a successor to the Lyme Regis Organ School, which will continue to offer workshops and lessons, and hopes to encourage organ playing and the appreciation of sacred and secular organ music.

There will be recitals and concerts as well as practical courses for musicians, and the society will have access to St Michael's Church's world-class Škrabl organ, with its 50-rank, three-manual mechanical action, as well as to many other fine organs in Devon and Dorset.  

Membership is open to organists and non-organists.

Chairman Philip Sturrock said: “We welcome everyone who shares our love of this magnificent instrument, and who is keen to share in the excitement of making an important contribution to the artistic life of South Wessex.

"The benefits of membership will include special members’ events, including an annual president’s reception, as well as priority booking for other society events and a regular newsletter. Members will also take part in electing the board of trustees who manage and direct the society."

The launch will be on Sunday, October 22 with Evensong starting at 4pm and including works by Mozart, Purcell and Praetorius. A choir and string ensemble will be formed especially for the event and will be led by Peter Parshall, the society’s artistic director. Alex Davies, organist at St Michael’s, and Peter Lea-Cox will play the organ. 

The recital, at 5pm, will be given by David Halls, Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral and a patron of the society. David’s programme will include music by Bach, Mendelssohn and Widor. No tickets are necessary, and audience members can just turn up; the society guarantees a warm welcome and an outstanding musical experience. 

The Lyme Regis Organ School, which was founded to encourage the development of capable organists, will continue as a central activity of the South Wessex Organ Society. The school offers workshops and individual lessons for anyone interested in taking up the instrument or extending their existing abilities. The highlight of this programme is the highly acclaimed three-day winter workshop, which will be held in February 2018.