Organist & Choirmaster
Mark Blackwell, who had often deputised at St James’s, joined us as our regular organist and choirmaster in July 2015. He was interviwed by Nick Bagge before he started at St James's and the article was called New organist is a familiar face. Mark then wrote an article for the Spire in February 2016 called Let music speak where words fail. Mark is an accountant with his own business in Whitton High Street. He is married, with three adult daughters, and has lived in Whitton all his life.
His interest in playing the organ started when he was a very young choirboy at St Augustine’s, Whitton, and used to watch the organist play after the service.
At the age of fourteen, in 1976, Mark started his organist career at Twickenham United Reformed Church. His first performance there was as organist for Stainer’s Crucifixion and it was an insight into the world of accompanying choirs. In 1980 he moved to St Philip and St James in Whitton, giving him his first experience of running a choir and playing for weddings, where in his first year he played for over 30, sometimes four in a day; including one occasion with three weddings wanting Widor’s Toccata for the exit of the bride!
He left St Philip and St James in 1984 and spent a number of years playing in different churches in the area which gave him experience of different denominations. This enhanced his musical repertoire and experience and he soon realised that there were very few differences between the Christian denominations. He had played occasionally at St James’s after he was asked him to help out one Sunday. When he played at St James’s in January 2015, he was easily persuaded to make it his new home and was very warmly welcomed.
Apart from playing at St James’s he has a keen interest in youth music having been, for the past 13 years, a trustee of a youth choir in Staines called Spelthorne Young Voices (SYV).
Mark is also kept busy twice a year organising a choir to sing at cathedrals for normal services when the cathedral choir are on holiday. The choir has so far visited Bristol, Winchester (twice), Gloucester, Rochester, St Albans, Ely and Norwich.