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Adrian Adams is a native of Croydon and has remained in the borough where he follows in the family footsteps by carrying out an active part in the life of the community.

His first organist appointment was at the age of 17. At the same time he joined the Croydon Bach Society in which he became concurrently accompanist and assistant conductor. From 1992 until 1998 he was the choirís Music Director. Prior to that, from 1987 until 1992, he was Musical Director of the Streatham Hill Operatic Society.

He studied church music at the College of St. Nicolas, when it was at the Royal School of Church Music, Addington Palace, under the tutelage of Roy Massey, Martin How and Michael Fleming. He became assistant organist at St. Johnís in 1969 and was appointed Master of Music in 1972 where today he continues to maintain the musical tradition begun in 1881 by Alfred James Eyre who was St. Johnís first organist.

The project to restore the Lewis organ has been Adrianís aspiration since his arrival at St. Johnís. Adrian retired as Assistant Director of Music at Dulwich College Preparatory School in July 2005.

In June 2012, Adrian  was made an Associate of the Royal School of Church Music (ARSCM) at a service held in Exeter Cathedral. His citation reads :

Adrian Adams has served as a devoted director of music at a distinguished South London Church (St Johnís, Upper Norwood) for nearly 40 years, and a former conductor of Croydon Bach Choir and a Head Student at the RSCM College at Addington Palace. He is currently an active member of the RSCM Southwark Area Committee.

In November 2012, in a service at St Georges Cathedral, Southwark, he also became an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians


  Assistant Organist - Bridget West became assistant organist in early 2011. She first came to St John's as a member of the congregation and was quickly invited to join the alto section of the choir. The departure of the previous assistant, Kit Perona-Wright, to St Stephen's Dulwich opened up an opportunity for Bridget to use her wider musical talents.

She started playing the piano aged 4, and by 8 had also taught herself the flute. She took up the organ at age 13, while at Christ's Hospital, Horsham. She studied music at the University of Bristol and has also studied with Christopher Dearnley, Catherine Ennis, Peter Hurford and David Sanger.


Previous Organists & Masters of Music

Alfred James Eyre FRCO 1881-1919
Born on October 24th 1853 in Lambeth, Alfred James Eyre (pictured right) studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was married to Margaret Bucknall ARAM, an accomplished pianist. He served as organist at St. Peterís, Vauxhall (1867-1872 and 1874-1881); St. Ethelbergís, Bishopgate, (1872-1874) and at the Crystal Palace (1880-1894).  He was a renowned composer and well travelled recitalist, who was also valued for his technical knowledge and advised on the construction of organs such as Hull City Hall in 1911.

Having arrived to fill in on two Sundays in July 1881, he officially became the first organist of St Johnís in 1882. Eyre was a given the task of making the necessary arrangements for an organ in the new church, still under construction. He remained at the Crystal Palace until May 1894 when ill health forced him to choose between the two posts. He was at St John's for 38 years and died on October 11th 1919 leaving the sum of £1,806 5s 11d to his widow who by that time was a "Professor of Pianoforte".

The Bechstein grand piano in church was a gift from A J Eyre to his daughter Ruth who donated it to the church a year before her death in 1961.

Rev. George Sydenham Holmes Mus. Bac. 1919-1930

Senior curate who also took over the music. By all accounts a brilliant organist and choirmaster. He became a Doctor of Music in 1927, but left to be vicar of All Hallows, Poplar in 1930.

S Billen Humphies, 1937 S. Billen Humphreys 1930-1946
Had played the organ for many years during choir summer holidays and now took over full time (pictured left).

 

 

Alfred James Eyre, the first organist
Major Leslie Betteridge 1946ó1951
Major Leslie Betteridge came from St Barnabas, Oxford in 1946 who. Betteridge was a great choir trainer and the choir flourished under his tutelage, winning on at least two occasions in the Croydon Music Festival. He was the overseer for the restoration of the Lewis Organ by Noel Mander. Left to go to another Pearson Church, St Michaels, West Croydon and was later Master of Music at Bermuda Cathedral.

Edward Bloomfield 1951-1954
Edward Bloomfield left St Barnabas, Pimlico in 1951 to come to St John's. He was Director of Music at Wilson's Grammar School in Camberwell. He left St John's at the end of 1954 as he found he was too busy with the school.

Anthony Medlycott 1954ó1957
Recommended by the Royal School of Church Music (which had recently moved to nearby Addigton Palace), Medlycott was an architect by trade, but studied music under Sir Percy Buck at Harrow and Harold Darke at St Michael's, Cornhill.

Frank Dunnicliff FRCO 1957 - 1961
Played the organ at Christ Church, Gipsy Hill whilst still a teenager (1929-39) and was later at Holy Trinity, Sydenham and St Luke's, Redcliffe Square.  After leaving Upper Norwood he was organist at St Margaret's, Lee and St Mary's, Balham. He ran a successful mixed choir. He and his wife Marjorie were very supportive of local school musical activities as well as those at church.

Frank Hughes 1961ó 1966
Shortly before his death in 1979, Frank decided to move from his wartime home in nearby Thicket Road and would no longer have room for his Steinway piano which he donated to St Johns. However, the house had suffered a direct hit during the war with a bomb passing clean through all five floors of the house and ending in the basement having gone through the piano on the way. This piano is still in weekly use in the Chantry with the hole in the lid still there from the bomb in the 1940s. 

Michael Spencer 1966 - 1972
When Michael arrived, the choir consisted of two boys and assorted adults. He rebuilt the boys choir and re-established it as a musical force (pictured right).

Adrian Adams 1972 onwards
Michael Spencer