A Warm Welcome to Simon


Having said goodbye to Alistair Hair in the last issue of The Grapevine, it is now my pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to Simon Bertram.

When Alistair intimated he was retiring last year, Rev Tom Cuthell, Leslie Pendreigh and I were tasked with finding a replacement. Knowing how difficult it had been three and a half years ago, I thought we had been handed a poisoned chalice but by happy coincidence, or Divine Providence, two things came together at just the right time and we have been extremely fortunate in securing Simon’s services. I would take this opportunity to record our sincere thanks to Tom, on behalf of the choir and congregation of Cramond Kirk, for the considerable part he has played in this respect.

Simon has had connections with Cramond Kirk all his life, as he was brought up around the corner in Barnton! When he left Fettes College he moved to Norfolk where he studied music at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, gaining a Master of Music degree, while continuing piano studies with Alexander Kelly at the Royal Academy of Music.  Postgraduate piano studies at the RAM followed, encompassing solo performance and accompanying, while at the same time allowing him to participate in the operatic repetiteuring course at English National Opera with Victor Morris. At both university and college his skills as a repetiteur led to a considerable amount of work accompanying the choral and operatic societies, individual singers and instrumentalists, and to concert engagements in the Norwich and Aldeburgh Festivals. He performed regularly as soloist with the university orchestra and played regularly in chamber groups.

After his university studies, he worked for the DECCA record company while continuing organ studies with international concert organists Jane Parker-Smith and Nicolas Kynaston in London. He then resigned this
position to continue full time studies with Marie-Louise Langlais and Naji Hakim in Paris. During this period he also participated in master classes in France and Switzerland, which led to him working with Marie-Claire Alain and Lionel Rogg. After winning 2nd prize in the Paisley International Organ Competition, semi-final places followed in the international competitions in Chartres and Paris, and this led to his debut CD of French Romantic and 20th Century organ music “From Ste Clotilde to the Sacré-Coeur” being released, which generated much interest in both the player and the new Rieger organ of St. Giles Cathedral. Recitals followed in France including at l’Eglise de la Trinité, l’Eglise de St Roche and La Madeleine. He also gave the inaugural recital on the new organ here at Cramond, and has given quite a few recitals in Edinburgh!

Until Simon and his family moved back to Edinburgh last summer, he worked as a freelance pianist and organist in the Worcestershire and Gloucestershire areas, working with professional instrumentalists and singers, students and choirs, for both concerts and major competitions. Over the last few years Simon has been assistant organist at Cirencester Parish Church, director of music at Bromsgrove Parish Church and sub organist at Worcester Cathedral before becoming a freelance keyboard player. He also worked with the choir of Malvern Priory, producing 2 CDs of Christmas music on the pre-restored and then the completed rebuild of the organ in the Priory. He was the principal
accompanist to the Philomusica of Worcester and Gloucester, seeing them to their 1,000th concert in Tewkesbury Abbey in April 2016. (Unfortunately, he had moved just before their 50th anniversary concert in the autumn!). Simon also worked regularly with the Swindon Choral Society, performing at home and accompanying them on tours to Europe.

Whilst joining us officially on Monday, 16 January, Simon’s first Sunday was on Sunday, 22 January and we look forward to the musical treats he has in store!

Dot Kemp, Choir Secretary

November 2016
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