Parish of Leatherhead - Previous Musicians
All Saints'Parish Church

2013 - to date: Organist & Choir Director Gina Eason
2012 Organist David Black
2011-2012 Master of Music Graham Davies
preceded by locum organists
2002-2009 Director of Music, the late David Oliver
1995-Aug 2002 Organist: Christopher Slater: Carol Coslett (née Slater) Choir leader/Conductor for much of this period
1992-95 Peter Holt: still plays regularly at churches in the Guildford area. He occasionally deputised for David Oliver and returned on a number of occasions after David died.
1990-92 Gareth Stubberfield: worked in a bank but found his vocation working with the junior choir and went on to be a teacher. He is a past director of the Paddock Wood Choral Society and is Head of Music at the Bethany School, near Goudhurst in Kent.
1984-90 Director of Music: Christopher Slater
  1984 Phillip Chant: came from Downsend School, stayed for six months before taking up a teaching post in the West Country.
1978-84 Dr Derek Barford: resigned on point of principle at the installation of the Allen electronic organ.Still playing the organ, now at St Andrews, Surbiton. Photo taken by David Oliver at the Georgian Event for Parker organ, 28 Apr 07.
1960-78 Sydney Hardaker: the organ repair fund was set up after his death and became known as the Hardaker Memorial Fund
  1956?-60 Richard Sinton
  1954 there were 20 applicants for the post
1934-54? Lionel? Lockett (previously an organist in Ireland, had only lived in Leatherhead for a year but had been playing occasionally to help out)
  1934 HJ Stephenson took on the post on a temporary, voluntary basis after the sudden death of CJ Hooker until a permanent appointment was made
1923-34 Cornelius James Hooker: Leatherhead choirboy who fulfilled his ambition to be Organist. Died at the Organ: please click for a larger image
  1912-23 T Webb B.Mus., FRCO (there were 78 applicants for the job in 1911!)
  1906-11 AV Alexander referred to as ‘a musician of no common order’; whose voluntaries before and after the service were an inspiration to the congregation.

1898-1906 Hugh Pleass appointed organist only in 1898, the curate Rev Sedgwick being choirmaster. Pleass took over from him as choirmaster in 1901.

1889-98 MJ Dunwell             
1888-89 EA Ingrams             
1884-88 Ferdinand Lawson ACO
1874-84 Arthur Barnacle       
? -1874 Mr Ewington his salary was £45 per annum

please contact the editor, Frank Haslam if you can add to or correct the above information
or provide better quality images

Gina Eason

to be added

David Black

Graham Davies writes: It is with great pleasure I am able to tell you that David Black has joined us as Organist of St. Mary and St. Nicholas Church with effect from 1st January 2012.

David is a highly qualified musician, gaining his BMus (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Historical Musicology. He has wide experience as an organist in this country and overseas.

This appointment greatly strengthens the music team and will I am sure help to attract other high quality musicians to our church. It will be most beneficial to have David play for the monthly Choral Evensong services and other special services which are planned for the future and to enjoy his playing for the weekly Sung Communion.

I shall continue to be overall responsible for the music at St. Mary and St. Nicholas under the new position of Master of the Music.

On your behalf, may I wish David every success for the future.
Graham Davies
from the February 2012 parish magazine

Graham Davies - Master of Music

from the September 2012 Parish Magazine

Church Matters is sad to report that Graham Davies, our organist and choirmaster, has handed in his resignation. It is hoped that he’ll be able to continue with “Music on Thursdays”. GD really knows his stuff and the Thursday lunchtimes are excellent. Eat a picnic lunch whilst you listen.

Graham Davies received early musical training at Winchester Cathedral where he assisted and was a pupil of Graham Matthews and Martin Neary. In his mid twenties he was appointed Organist and Choirmaster at St.Cross, Winchester and following this was Deputy Organist at Wimborne Minster. After a period at Leeds Parish Church, he went on to become Director of Music at Malvern Priory, where he founded the Priory Singers and Orchestra and regularly took part in the Malvern Festival. Whilst at Malvern Graham trained the choir of men and boys, who occasionally sang at Worcester and Gloucester Cathedrals. At this time Graham taught piano and class singing at Croftdown Preparatory School in Malvern and prepared pupils for Associated Board Examinations.

Upon moving to Bath in 1989 and following five years as Director of Music at St. Mary, Bathwick, Graham was appointed Deputy Organist at Bath Abbey in 1994 where for seven years he was accompanist for the Abbey Girls Choir and the Evening Choir and was the organist for many ceremonial and civic occasions in the Abbey.

In 2005 Graham was appointed to All Saints’ Clifton, in Bristol where he developed the music within an Anglo Catholic tradition, widening the repertoire and recruiting many new members to the choir. From 2005 – 2008 he was a regular accompanist for the Wells Cathedral Voluntary Choir. At this time he finished his business career to devote all his time to music and in August 2008 went on to be Director of Music at All Saints’ Church, High Wycombe. As well as developing the scope of liturgical music, Graham established a successful series of weekly lunchtime concerts. In May 2011 he took up his duties as Organist and Choirmaster at St. Mary and St. Nicholas Parish Church, Leatherhead.

As a solo organist, Graham has given many recitals in cathedrals and churches throughout the UK with previous performances at the cathedrals in Exeter, Bristol, Hereford, Coventry, Truro, Eglise St. Vincent in Montreux, St Peters Cathedral and Eglise de Notre-Dame in Genève. He has performed in New York State and in Switzerland and has a busy year for 2011 including appearances at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sheffield Cathedral and in Chicago. He has benefited from organ studies and master classes with internationally renowned teachers including Margaret Phillips and Nicholas Kynaston, always concentrating on historically informed performance and is keen to encourage organ pupils in the Leatherhead area.

Music on Thursdays link

Graham's first Sunday as our organist and choir master was May 1, 2011. He became Master of Music here wef 1 Jan 2012.

from the June 2011 Parish Magazine

I write this having been in post for just two weeks and am overwhelmed by the warm welcome I have received to St. Mary and St. Nicholas. It is good to be with you and I look forward to the opportunity to serve in the music ministry. I would straight away like to pay tribute to all those who have continued to support the music week by week for so long, especially Richard Price and Peter Steadman.Over my forty plus years involvement in church music I have been privileged to hold important posts including those at Wimborne Minster, Malvern Priory and Bath Abbey in addition to giving organ recitals throughout the UK in cathedrals and major churches. In the summer I am due to play in St. Paul’s Cathedral and in Chicago. I hope I can bring the benefits of this experience to Leatherhead and to encourage greater concert giving at St. Mary and St. Nicholas, especially to feature the magnificent Parker Organ.

It would be wonderful to increase the membership of the choir and to hear from anyone interested in joining us. Do please speak to me over coffee after the Eucharist. Whilst the choir have an important role in worship I am especially keen to encourage congregational singing. To this effect from Trinity Sunday there will be additional opportunities in the 9.30am Eucharist by the inclusion of a responsorial psalm and Gospel Alleluias with a Cantor.

Do please contact me should you have any comments concerning the music. It will be very good to hear from you.
Graham Davies

David Oliver

As from 1st September 2002, David Oliver took over as Director of Music at Leatherhead Parish Church from Chris Slater. David passed away on 13 January 2009, having made a major contribution to worship here through music. A Celebration of the life of David Oliver

Christopher Slater

Christopher started conducting when he was 17, his orchestra including members of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In 1955 he was accepted to study personally with Herbert von Karajan in Lucerne. In 1960 he made his debut with the London Philharmonic at Dorking Halls, initiating a long running series of concerts.

He has conducted the Royal Philharmonic, The Cape Town Municipal Orchestra in South Africa and founded the New Chamber Orchestra.

He has an impressive list of academic qualifications and in 1973 became Professor of Aural Training at the Royal College of Music.
He conducted for Epsom Light Opera and enjoyed considerable success with, amongst others, their productions of Orpheus in the Underworld, Die Fledermaus, The Mikado, The Merry Widow and The Desert Song. He hasconducted the London Philharmonic at St Johns, Smith Square.

Chris has provided the following additional information:

Director of Music here 1984-90.
Previously Organist at St. Paul’s, Kingston Hill.
Inaugurated Voluntary Practices here on Saturday mornings for the  children.
1984 Saw the ghost in church during evening choir practice in the winter. The local press ran the story and it is also recorded in the book by Graham McEwan Haunted Churches of England.

Many musical events include:
1985 Organ Recital on 27th March; Performance of St. John Passion on Good Friday. Combined chorus drawn from Leatherhead PC, the United Reformed Church and the Methodist Church.
1986 Two concerts to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the church.
1988 Took the choir to Guildford Cathedral to sing Evensong, which included his own Ely responses.
1989 The fire destroyed the organ and for a time another Allen Organ was placed in the nave to accompany the services.
1990s The newly formed Slater Symphony Orchestra gave regular concerts in which there were some outstanding soloists.
1990 Resigned
1995-Sept 2002 returned as Organist with daughter Carol (Coslett) as Music Co-ordinator until she moved to Cuddesdon for her theological studies.

David Eaton, Vicar: July 2002 : We sadly said goodbye on July 28th to our Director of Music, Christopher Slater, who retired, having reached one of those birthdays with a nought at the end. Chris has been Director of Music in this parish for 12 years in all, and in other parishes for most of his working life.

Chris (below the candlestick) surrounded by a larger than usual
Evensong choir for his final service as Director of Music on 28 July 2002

He brought a rich mixture to church music. His knowledge of music is extensive and many have benefited from his teaching at the Royal College of Music, and locally from adult education classes. A skilled musician in his own right, he founded the Slater Symphony Orchestra and we have benefited from concerts they have performed at the parish church on a number of occasions.

He is a guardian of the Anglican choral tradition. He has worked tirelessly with our choir to achieve high standards of choral music, week by week, but also at major festivals. Chris is a supremely fine conductor and has had a distinguished orchestral career both locally and in London.

I am indebted to him for his hard work as Director of Music during my incumbency, and for the support he has been when my own musical know-how has been meagre.

We wish him and Pat every happiness in retirement.

[Chris is now Director of Music at St Mary's Church, Shalford]

Chris at the console of the Allen organ

On a hot July evening Chris is seen here being presented with a specially commissioned John Ainley watercolour of Leatherhead Parish Church.

L-R: David Eaton (Vicar), Robert Jenkins (former choir member & NSM), Chris Slater, his daughter Carol (former choir leader and now training for the ministry at Cuddesdon, Briony Martin (Deacon), Anne Thomson (Choir Secretary).

On the back of the frame were many messages of goodwill from those who had contributed.

Christopher Slater's 70th Birthday Concert What a splendid and festive occasion Chris Slater's Birthday Concert was! It took place in the Parish Church on Saturday 14th December 2002 and was completely sold out - a fitting tribute to our former Musical Director.

The programme opened with a rousing item in the form of Beethoven's Overture to Fidelio and was followed by The Tempest Suite No. 2 by Sibelius. This was an interesting and unusual work, less well known than many of his other works, and in some ways curiously unlike Sibelius. Next followed an even less well known concerto, written in 1916 by Delius, for violin and cello with orchestra, superbly played by two young artists, Alexandra Wood and Naomi Williams, who had both learned the concerto specially for this concert. It was a piece full of contrasts and it is a pity that it is not more often played.

After the interval we heard another Scandinavian piece - the Danish composer Nielsen's First Symphony, composed in 1892 when he was only 27. This youthful work is full of joyous optimism and also passages of lyrical beauty which the orchestra brought out to full advantage. However, undoubtedly the musical highlight of the evening was the final work - Seven Decades, written by Mark Slater as a tribute to his father. The orchestra obviously thoroughly enjoyed playing it, and the enthusiastic reception by the audience was such that part of it had to be repeated as an encore. In every way this provided a most appropriate finale to an almost "Family Party" atmosphere at Chris's 70th Birthday Concert. Linda Heath

Letherhead Parish Magazine August 1907

As will be seen from these two articles, Hugh Pleass had been organist here for a number of years and was both a very competent organist and choir master, and a very capable Assistant Master (Deputy Head) at the National C of E Boys' School, at that time in Highlands Road in the building recently demolished and used until then by A & H Animal Feeds. Linda Heath (Parish Magazine Aug 2007)

On Thursday, June 20th, Mr. Hugh Pleass, who has resigned the position of organist and choirmaster at the Parish Church, on being appointed headmaster of Merrow Schools, was the recipient of a handsome marble clock from the members of the choir. The presentation was made by Rev. B. C. Taylor, who referred to the happy relations which had always existed between the choir and Mr. Pleass. The gift was suitably acknowledged by Mr. Pleass. The clock bore the following inscription: "Presented to Mr. Hugh Pleass by the members of the Letherhead Church Choir on his leaving Letherhead, as a mark of affection."

The Parish has sustained a great loss by the appointment of Mr. Hugh Pleass to the Head-Mastership of Merrow School. Mr. Pleass was appointed Assistant Master of the Letherhead Boys' School in 1891, and Organist of the Parish Church a few years after. The record of Mr. Pleass' work, both as Assistant Master and as Organist, is one of unremitting fulfilment of duty. The excellence of the reports of H.M. Inspectors and of the Diocesan Inspectors on his work in School is evidence of the thoroughness of such work, and the present efficiency of the Choir tells of his ability and success as Organist and Choir-Master.

I desire to take this opportunity of expressing my grateful thanks to Mr. Pleass for his unvarying courtesy, and his kind attention to any wish expressed by me. We hope that every happiness and success may attend Mr. and Mrs. Pleass in their new life at Merrow. F.E.U. [Canon Utterton]


this page last updated 22 Nov 13