New Music Collection from Deeside

A new Music Collection has been published in Deeside.   The collection gathers together some of the compositions of Sheila Maxwell, the organist at St Thomas’s Episcopal Church in Aboyne.

When Sheila Maxwell celebrated her 80th birthday last November the idea was proposed of marking her significant contribution to Church music, by publishing some of her own compositions.

These are mostly choir pieces, and have been sung at St Thomas’s Church by the regular choir or by the ‘Augmented Choir’ who gather from Deeside and Donside, each Christmas, Easter and summer. They sing at three special services of music, much enjoyed by the local community and beyond it.

Dr Marcus Marsh, the conductor of this augmented choir, writes in the introduction to The Maxwell Collection, ‘the volume was conceived as a tribute to Sheila Maxwell’s tireless energy and endeavour in creating and promoting good music and in encouraging others to participate in performing it.  Her music ranges from introits to amens, but it is in the composition of carols that Sheila has excelled. Inspired by the annual service of nine lessons and carols, she has faithfully written a new carol for the church choir to sing for each occasion since the new century began. Her texts come from various sources, and most notably in recent years, Sheila has set music to some of the lovely poems of Vittoria Hancock, Rector of St Thomas’s. It has been a productive partnership.’

Sheila Maxwell was born in Cambridge, where her father was a Mathematician.   She attended the Perse School for Girls, and later studied music at Girton College, Cambridge University. On graduation she started a career in social work in Aberdeen.   Her lifetime interest in music began in childhood and was nurtured at home and at school. Her father said that she made up her first little piece when she was six years old.  This was followed by a series of little piano pieces, followed by a stream of songs, written compulsively during her late teens and early twenties. It wasn’t until she came to Aboyne, however, and in particular to St Thomas’s, where she became organist in 1993 that she could concentrate on her music once more.

The Vestry of St. Thomas’s Church has produced The Maxwell Collection to put Sheila Maxwell’s fine music into the public sphere.  The book also seeks to give other choirs access to this new music. The Revd. Vittoria Hancock, the Rector at St Thomas’s Church, Aboyne wrote in her commendation of the book, ‘it is my wish that they will enjoy it as much as I have.  The collection of music by Sheila Maxwell stands in a great tradition of Christian music, expressing both the Christian gospel and exploring how we encounter God from day to day.’

The attractively produced Maxwell Collection of Music by Sheila Maxwell, can be bought for £10, from Sheila Maxwell, or from .    The music is being made available with no copyright restrictions, and can also be accessed online.

Sheila Maxwell, speaks with gratitude at the gift of the publication of her music by St Thomas’s Church.  She says in acknowledgement, ‘I think it is common for this sort of music to receive a performance, and then be quietly forgotten – such a lot of music is written. So it is a special pleasure to have this volume. The volume is dedicated to St Thomas’s Church, Aboyne, to whom any profits will be given. The church has been part of my life for over twenty years, when I started playing the organ shortly after coming to Aboyne.’