Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the electronic organ became a hugely popular instrument, with BBC Radio 2 showcasing an extensive selection of music performed by a number of talented organists on its weekly one-hour broadcast, ‘The Organist Entertains’.  Indeed, it was this programme which indirectly led to the enterprising formation of the Society.

In April 2001, the Society’s founder and current Secretary, Terry Trevett, contacted the BBC in an attempt to identify and locate a delightful piece of music which he had heard on that programme. As a consequence, he was put in touch with a young lady who had been responsible for that particular recording – and she not only wrote to him with relevant details but also suggested that he might like to attend a concert that she was performing in the area later in the year.

Terry subsequently attended that concert and, in addition to enjoying an excellent musical evening, he learned all about the world of electronic organ and keyboard clubs.  Until then, he had no idea that such quality entertainment was so readily available but, after attending a few more similar concerts, he decided to establish a club in the Andover area.  Thereafter, with much hard work and determination, the club has gone from strength to strength to attain the success it is enjoying today.

In case you are wondering … the piece of music responsible for this remarkable adventure is titled ‘Angel In Blue’, composed by Roberto Danova – and the artiste in question was Rebecca Cole (pictured), who subsequently performed at Weyhill …. exactly two years to the day after her recording had historically featured on BBC Radio 2.  Disappointingly, Rebecca is retired from the electronic organ circuit but at least she can be pleased with her contribution towards the Society’s inauguration.

Listen to the original ‘Angel in Blue’ by General Lafayette, included by kind permission of the composer himself.

Notes: Sadly, just a few months after airing the music which ‘launched’ the Weyhill Electronic Organ Society, the BBC decided to reduce to thirty minutes the time allotted to ‘The Organist Entertains’ programme and to exclude recordings of electronic organ music, thereby denying many of the younger talented performers the opportunity of being showcased.  Consequently, the only occasions on which these players could then be heard was at organ/keyboard clubs or festivals.  To make matters worse, the BBC decided in 2017 to remove the programme from the airwaves after 49 years.

At the time of the club’s formation most of the other clubs were known as electronic organ societies but the instruments employed have since evolved to become more portable and in the main are now more accurately defined as electronic keyboards.  Consequently, the club’s name is somewhat misleading, although a change of title would not effectively describe the capabilities of the current instruments.  It is suffice to say that the instruments can produce so many different sounds – from orchestral to single instrument – and really need to be heard to be believed!   

The Society, which was formed in April 2002, is the only such club in the Andover area or within the Test Valley Borough; in fact, there is only one other similar club in the county. A small committee was formed and the inaugural concert, featuring International Concert performer, Nicholas Martin, was held on 18 July 2002. The event attracted a capacity audience at The Fairground Hall in Weyhill, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Test Valley, Tony and Rita Gentle.  Thanks to the hard work of the committee and a few willing volunteers, combined with the support and co-operation of several local organisations, it was soon apparent that the initiative had been totally worthwhile.

The Society made a further advancement when, in May 2005, its very own video projection equipment was introduced, thereby enhancing stage productions. With the help of Test Valley Community Services (later renamed Unity), grants from ‘Awards For All’ (Lottery), Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council helped the Society to achieve this improvement and members of the audience have since had a clear view of the keyboards and pedals from any seat in the hall.  In June 2005, the Society was honoured when being awarded a framed ‘Voluntary Groups Awards’ certificate by Test Valley Community Services, in recognition of its contribution to the local community.

To hear the club’s signature tune click here.  (for more information about the tune see the Historical Connections page).