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