Young Theatre Organist of the Year

February 10, 2017

The RCO's toes are still tapping after spending a day with the Troxy Wurlitzer in January, in the company of our colleagues of the Cinema Organ Society. Young Theatre Organist of the Year 2016, Lewis Scott, was also there, and he talks about winning the competition, how he manages to practise, and his plans for the future.

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Let’s hear it for the Harmonium

February 1, 2017

The San Francisco-based musician, Michael Hendron, travels the world, seeking out harmoniums and reed organs in dusty corners of French cathedrals and village churches, recording interesting repertoire. He has made videos at Sainte-Clotilde and La Madeleine in Paris, on harmoniums dating from the time of Franck, Fauré and Saint-Saëns. Michael joined David Aprahamian Liddle last November at St Barnabas, Pimlico, where David is the proud owner of a 2-manual harmonium built in 1868 by Philip J Trayser of Stuttgart.

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Finding the best – a scholarship for senior organists

December 7, 2016

Applications are invited from senior organ students, or organists in the early stages of their professional careers, for the W T Best Memorial Scholarship, worth £,4000 for up to 3 years. Auditions are scheduled for 23rd February 2017, with a closing date for applications of 5pm on 20th January 2017.

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In search of nightingales – the diary of Elizabeth Campbell

November 25, 2016

In 1927, Elizabeth Campbell travelled to England from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to study organ and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London with Henry Ley. She became one of Australia's leading organists, but always dreamed of going back to London. In 1933 her dream came true and she was invited back by the RCM as part of their Jubilee Celebrations. She kept a diary of this remarkable year's visit, which survived, and has been transcribed and published by Robert Cox, a close friend of her family.

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Throw off your cassock, and meet the mighty Wurlitzer

November 18, 2016

The RCO throws off its cassock and surplice, and slips into something a little more glamorous, for the 2017 RCO Organ Forum: a toe-tapping day of light organ music with the Cinema Organ Society on Saturday 7 January - the first time the respective worlds of the classical and theatre organ have come together for study and discussion.

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A life-changer for two young composers

November 11, 2016

Two young RCO members are carving out careers for themselves as composers, alongside their organ playing. Both Matthew Kelley and Tammas Slater won in the junior category the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers competition in 2015, and for both of them this has been a life-changer, leading to a series of further commissions.

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Attention teenage organists! – London Organ Competition deadline 10 November

November 2, 2016

There's just a week left for teenage organists to enter the competition which takes place on Thursday 29 December, organised by the Organ Club, for cash prizes and opportunities for recitals. Prizewinners also gain free entry into the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition - which is co-organiser of this event. The deadline for entry is Thursday 10 November - so no time to lose!

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The pin-up of the organ world

October 25, 2016

What pipe organ would you expect to see on the wall of an organ scholar’s bedroom? The 1735 Christian Muller instrument of the St Bavokerk, Haarlem, of course, in all its beauty and grandeur. The RCO took twelve lucky organists on a Masterclass to play it, under the tutelage of Reitze Smits.

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My RCO – Joe McHardy on winning the John Birch Scholarship

October 11, 2016

Joe McHardy was convinced he'd failed his FRCO earlier this year, so when he got emails telling him not only that he had passed, but been awarded the Durrant Prize, and then the John Birch Scholarship, he thought there must have been some mistake. He tells us what the Scholarship, and the RCO, have meant for him.

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Celebrate the organ – OrganFest opens in Edinburgh in October

September 28, 2016

OrganFest, the annual weekend celebration of the organ, moves north this year. After two years in the Midlands, it will be held in Edinburgh from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th October, and showcase organs by Willis, Ahrend, and Reiger.

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More light on Harold Darke – an October celebration

September 20, 2016

One hundred years ago, Harold Darke (1888-1976) began his fifty-year stint as Director of Music at St. Michael’s Cornhill, in the City of London. The church is celebrating this event all through October, and James McVinnie will open with an all-Bach recital in tribute to Darke on Monday 3rd October.

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Philip Moore’s Requiem – world premiere and national broadcast in November

September 7, 2016

Philip Moore’s new Requiem will be given its world premiere on Friday 18 November 2016 at 2pm at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge in a concert to be given by the BBC Singers, conducted by David Hill. The concert will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Dedicated to the memory of his Mother and Father, Philip Moore’s Requiem is written for soprano solo, mixed voices and organ.

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Organists in Business: presentations now available

August 4, 2016

The Organists in Business conference was organised in Summer 2016, with more than a dozen musicians at the top of their respective professions giving detailed guidance to an audience of organists looking to start, build, or change their careers. Selected presentations from the day are now available on iRCO.

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Croydon Minster hymnathon: non-stop through the New English Hymnal for the organ appeal

June 26, 2016

Croydon Minster is inviting all Choirmasters and Music Directors to join them in their Hymnathon on 1st and 2nd July, when they will be singing non-stop through the entire New English Hymnal, to support the organ appeal.

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Bishop of Leeds launches new organ school

June 23, 2016

Bishop of Leeds the Rt Rev Marcus Stock launched the new Diocese of Leeds Organ School with a service at Leeds Cathedral last month. The new Organ School is a partnership between the Diocese of Leeds Music Department and The Royal College of Organists.

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Free music day in Leeds Cathedral to launch organists’ training programme

May 20, 2016

The Diocese of Leeds Music Department will host a workshop day for parish musicians, school music leaders, organists, choirs, cantors and clergy in June, based in Leeds Cathedral. Participants will have the chance to play the Cathedral’s superb organ, rebuilt by Klais of Bonn in 2010, and admission is free.

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Organists in business: learning the skills for a successful career

May 17, 2016

Bach famously had moments of contention with his employers and colleagues over fees, commissions, teaching schedules, leave of absence. In these respects at least, it seems that nothing much changes. Working as a professional organist requires additional skills beyond musicianship, so the RCO has organised a one-day Organists in Business conference in June to provide business skills and career advice to organists at all levels.

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Advanced hymn techniques: reaching the next level

April 18, 2016

‘To accompany hymns well is our bread and butter’, said Daniel Moult, at the start of our RCO workshop on hymn playing last year, ‘but also quite an art.  So take pride in your hymn playing - have your own hymn book marked up with your pedalling, cues, and notes.’

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The man who bought an organ

April 13, 2016

Tempted by a fine redundant organ? Steve Mansfield was: by a recently overhauled Lloyd of Notttingham organ from the late 1800s in his home town in Derbyshire – and he bought it for £750. “And how much room is this going to take up?” was his wife’s first question.

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A glimpse of Conservatoire life

April 4, 2016

In February, Aine Kennedy attended ‘The Conservatoire Experience’ presented by the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Organists. This is her report from a day designed to give young organists an insight into life at a music conservatoire.

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Peter Williams – a personal recollection

March 30, 2016

Professor Peter Williams, Bach Scholar and a Vice President of the RCO, has passed away, appropriately around midnight just before Bach's birthday, the 21st March. Official tributes will of course be paid elsewhere, but I would like to remember a study day which I attended as a very newbie organist, in which his sharp, questioning intelligence, combined with great authority, were powerfully in evidence.

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Easter recitals by Hans Davidsson and Stephen Farr in Oxford

March 29, 2016

One of the joys of the annual RCO Easter Course for Diploma level students is the organ recitals given by the distinguished teachers on the course, which are open to the public. Oxford is the venue for the course this year, and Hans Davidsson, of the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen, along with Stephen Farr, Director of Music at St Paul's, Knightsbridge, London, will give two very contrasting recitals.

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Full house for a memorable RCO Conferment

March 14, 2016

RCO members, students and their families filled Southwark Cathedral on Saturday for the 2016 Conferment of Diplomas.

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RCO launches iRCO for online learning and research

March 7, 2016

If you are reading this, then you have reached iRCO, an innovative virtual campus from the Royal College of Organists, designed to provide easy access to learning, research and general information for organists and choral directors.

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RCO survey shines a light on the musical life of organists and choral directors

March 5, 2016

The RCO received more than 900 responses to its 2015 survey, providing a unique insight into the musical life of organists and choral directors. The importance of the organ and choral music in religious worship was strongly emphasised throughout the responses.

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Celebrating Bernard Rose

March 2, 2016

Famously prickly, irascible, caring and encouraging, Dr Bernard Rose was a one-off, and for over five decades a living legend in the UK's choirmaster world.

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Viscount Organs launches RCO membership offer

January 28, 2016

Viscount Classical Organs offers free membership of the Royal College of Organists to new and recent customers. The initiative means that anyone buying a Viscount organ for home practice will receive a year's free membership of the RCO.

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Choral Evensong is good for you

January 23, 2016

by Morwenna Brett Whether you experience it as a spiritual event or a free concert of the highest quality, the service of Choral Evensong is one of England's richest traditions, and it comes as no surprise to organists and choral directors that every now and again the mainstream media discover this. Tom Service wrote in […]

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I’m so glad I came! – finding their feet in Bristol

January 23, 2016

by James Parsons ‘Amazing’ – ‘brilliant’ – ‘such fun’  – ‘I’m so glad I came’  Emily Keeling-Paglia (age 11) texts home from Bristol. She was on the RCO Academy’s Find Your Feet! and Build Your Skills! in Bristol along with 14 other young musicians who had decided to spend three days of their October half-term last […]

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It’s not too late – organ scholarships for all

January 23, 2016

by Simon Williams Oxford University’s Access and Outreach promoted the Organ Scholarships for All day on 3 November 2015 to show that organ scholarships can be within reach even for those teenagers who come to organ playing relatively late in the school days, and to raise awareness of organ scholarships in general among state schools. Hosted […]

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The soundtrack to our lives – organists’ Bowie tributes go viral

January 23, 2016

by Morwenna Brett David Bowie 1947-2016 As the RCO has said many times before, no other instrument seems quite able to embrace and sum up the public mood like the organ.  At moments of high emotion, whether personal or public, the organ speaks in a way few instruments can. The death of David Bowie on Sunday […]

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