25 Not Out!
Thank you so much Andy, Bill, Kathryn, Sylvia, Choir members and fellow Parishioners, for the kind presentation upon my 25th Anniversay as Organist and Director of Music at St. Mary’s on Sunday 3rd May 2015, and for the wonderfully generous gifts – a lovely surprise indeed!
My career as a church organist began, aged about 15, when I played my first services in the Southsea Methodist Churches of my late father, Rev. Victor Pilott. It was around this time that I paid my first visit to St. Mary’s Alverstoke. My then organ teacher Dean Brown FRCO, at St. Jude’s Southsea, encouraged me to enter local Music Competition Festivals, and in those days, Gosport Music Festival had an Organ Class, which was regularly adjudicated at St. Mary’s Alverstoke Parish Church. So it was, that in 1960 or 1961, I had my first experience of playing St. Mary’s fine organ. I did not realise at the time the stature of the adjudicator, Dr. Herbert Howells, who is now widely regarded as the greatest composer of Anglican Cathedral Music since Charles Villiers Stanford. Dr. Howells was a working musician, unable to make much of living from composing alone at that time, so therefore active in teaching and adjudicating all over the country. I remember him as an imposing figure, speaking from St. Mary’s Chancel steps, and he was kindly encouraging of my efforts, although my performance of part of a Handel Organ Concerto was less successful than I, or my teacher were hoping! By May 1990, when I came to St. Mary’s as Organist and Director of Music, I had played regularly, Sunday by Sunday, as resident organist at Southsea and Purbrook Methodist Churches for about 18 years, and then at St. Peter’s Parish Church in Titchfield, for about 8 years. Against that background, I felt my aquaintance with hymnody was reasonably well developed, so it was something of a surprise to find I had never heard of the first hymn, at my first service in St. Mary’s, chosen by the then Rector, Rev Norman Chatfield, ’Awake, awake: fling off the night!’ This rousing call to worship and praise, has become a firm favourite of mine, and it was good to hear it sung again on Sunday 3rd May 2015, 25 years to the Sunday, after my first service.
May I say that it is an honour and a privelege to be associated with the Ministry of Music at St. Mary’s. I am fortunate to work with some very able and dedicated musical people in St. Mary’s Choir, and I am relishing being involved with Andy and other musicians and singers at the emerging Church Alive services. I believe there’s a line from a Charles Wesley hymn for every occasion, and this comes to mind as I write: ‘My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord, Into Thy blessed hands receive;’
Thank you. Paul Pilott LRAM ARCO Organist and Director of Music St. Mary’s Parish Church Alverstoke