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Saturday, September 2, 2017


(Errol Slatter)

Errol Mervyn Slatter, well-known Durban organist and founder of the Errol Slatter Chorale, died peacefully at his home on July 14, 2017.

Born in Pietermaritzburg on February 24, 1926, he was the eldest child of Herbert and May Slatter, while they were living on a farm at Thornville Junction. In 1931 the family moved to Durban when Herbert became Secretary-Manager of the Natal Co-operative Egg Circle. In 1937, the family moved to Corumbene in Bellair, Durban.

Slatter was educated at Gordon Road Girls' School (he was in Class 1 & 2) then Northridge Road School in Morningside before completing his schooling at Glenwood Boys High School. He started playing the organ while he was still a schoolboy at the old Central Methodist Church in Durban.

On May 3, 1951, he married Adeline Reardon at the Greenwood Park Methodist Church in Blackburn Road, Red Hill in Durban. They went on to have five children, all brought up in Durban North. They were married for 31 years, at which point Adeline died of cancer. Slatter remarried on December 20, 1982, to Clover Brickhill at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in central Durban, where he was resident organist at the time.

Although Slatter sang in church choirs for a number of years, he did not begin to study seriously until was in his early 20’s.

He worked at Dunlop before becoming a fulltime musician in 1951, conducting choirs, playing for the SABC (broadcasting regularly from 1947 as a solo organist and conductor of choirs) and giving private singing, and organ lessons. In the early ‘70s, he took up a post as music teacher at Mitchell Girls’ High School in Durban for a few years. After this he became a music lecturer and eventually director of music at Edgewood Teachers’ Training College, in Westville before he retired in 1991.

During this time he studied through UNISA in the 70’s and was granted, in 1973, a Licentiate Diploma in Music, to teach the Organ (which he did to students at University of Natal, Durban – now UKZN) as well as completing a Bachelor of Musicology in 1979.

He created the Errol Slatter Chorale in 1962 which made a major contribution to Durban’s music scene for 25 years, performing a wide and extensive repertoire.

He was the organist and choirmaster at a number of Durban central churches before becoming organist and choirmaster at St Paul’s Anglican Church in 1957/8 where he remained until retiring in May 1994. After leaving St Paul’s, he continued to play for services at St James Anglican Church in Morningside until July, 2014. He also played hymns for the weekly services at Milldene Park where he lived, until February 2016.

In July 1994, Slatter was honoured by The Royal School of Church Music in London. He received an associateship in recognition of his 37 years as organist at St Paul’s Church and for his work for the RSCM.