An interview with St John’s administrator Mr Bryan Sollenberger, the longest standing member of Team St John’s. Bryan has seen many organists come and go, and also has some curious ideas about the future…
Bryan with Director of Music, Robert Greenhill
1. When did you first meet Betty?
I first met Betty unofficially in March 1993, officially one month later.
2. Have you grown to love her more in knowing her?
3. Who’s your favourite organist been over the years?
That’s a tough one – for ability, Charlie; for virtuosity, Nicky.
4. What’s your favourite piece of organ music?
Westminster Carillon; there’s also a piece by Durufle that Charlie played once.
5. What are you looking forward to most about the organ restoration project?
It’s an opportunity to see part of the building not normally seen. Also, the organ has fantastic potential which the restoration of the bellows should enable.
6. What’s been your favourite service at St John’s?
I am partial to Midnight Mass at Christmas, although the Ordination of Justin Terry and Brutus’ first mass rank up there, too.
7. What do you think is the best thing about St John’s?
8. Where’s your favourite place to get lunch in W2?
I will equivocate and nominate three: Bonne Bouche, Burger King and Brutus’s Pasta Palace.
9. What do you like most about this area?
Hyde Park and the squares.
10. What do you think the church and area will look like in 50 years time?
The Tyburn Tree will be replanted and the traffic system around Marble Arch rerouted at a cost of £1,500,000. A system of transport – a cross between helicopter and hover craft – will be designed and commissioned by the Mayor of London and christened BorisBirds. They run on enhanced horse manure, removing a blight from the streets around Hyde Park and providing a life-saving source of revenue for the stables. A landing pad will be installed on the roof of the church and landing fees charged, rejuvenating the parish finances. Westminster City Council orders tree reduction around the church to facilitate landing for the BorisBirds. A huge public outcry is quelled by the promise of a new notice board in Connaught Street. Horseman’s Sunday will add a race around Hyde Park which will become the 6th classic. Queen Katherine presents the cup to the winning rider.