Film improvisation explained at the 2019 East of England Organ Day

January 2, 2019

The 2019 East of England Organ Day celebrates the world of film in May, with concerts of cinematic repertoire for the organ, and improvisations, featuring the majestic 1933 Grand Organ in the Chapel of the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, in Suffolk. School organist David Pickthall will create live, spontaneous soundtracks at the piano to two short Harold Lloyd films - here he explains the techniques that both pianists and organists can use to improvise to live films.

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Wednesdays at 5.55 – organ recitals at the Royal Festival Hall

December 6, 2018

Go with organist colleagues to an organ recital at the Royal Festival Hall, and sooner or later someone will strike up a nostalgic lament for Wednesdays at 5.55. Harry Hoyle has just published a history of this extraordinary series of weekly organ recitals on the RFH organ, which lasted for 34 years. His engaging account will interest both organists and anyone fascinated by the social history of classical music performance in the second half of the twentieth century.

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King’s College, Cambridge, and an English singing style

November 24, 2018

The sound of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge has become fixed in the public consciousness as the quintessence of English cathedral singing: epitomised by The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols each December. However the assumption that this singing style continues a tradition inherited from the Middle Ages could hardly be further from the truth. It took a revolution in social and musical attitudes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for the "terrible roughness" of cathedral singing up to then to be transformed, as Timothy Day shows in his book I Saw Eternity the Other Night - King's College Cambridge and an English Singing Style, just published by Allen Lane.

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Building choir training skills in the East Midlands – a New Year workshop

November 9, 2018

If your New Year resolutions are likely to include improving your conducting or choral training skills, then book now for a workshop coming up in early February. Conductors with wide experience or with none are invited to spend a day with David Hill, Musical Director of The Bach Choir and former Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, at an RCO choir training workshop on Saturday 2nd February 2019.

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Bringing young people to the organ – a European competition

September 28, 2018

Nine European cities with a heritage of historic organs invite entries for a competition to devise an organ-related musical event to bring young people to the instrument. The winning project will be performed at organ festivals around Europe next year, and the deadline for entries is the end of December 2018.

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Father Willis gets the rock-star treatment – Organ Reframed 2018

September 13, 2018

The powerfully Gothic surroundings of James Cubitt's Union Chapel in north London are the setting for the third Organ Reframed this October, where the 1877 Henry Willis organ will star in a festival designed to introduce new artists and new audiences to its versatility. Booking has opened for the only event of its kind in the UK: Organ Reframed focuses on commissioning new music from composers at the contemporary cutting edge to firmly embed a 19th century instrument in the music of the 21st century.

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RCO students survive the long, hot summer of 2018

September 3, 2018

Heat rises, and many organs are in lofts well above ground level, observes Simon Williams - and surviving the heat in the summer of 2018 was just another challenge for students on the two flagship RCO courses in July and August. A report on how students of all ages came away inspired, with pictures.

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A helping hand for the village organist

August 27, 2018

The RCO is running a Village Organists' Workshop in September, for all those parish musicians working in small churches who would like access to support and advice. The workshop welcomes pianists who would like to try the organ under expert guidance, as well as more experienced parish organists who would like to try a larger instrument than usual. It will be held in the glorious setting of the northern Lake District, at St Kentigern's Church.

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The winner of the inaugural IAO/RCO Organ Playing Competition

August 13, 2018

This year's Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO) Music Festival in Peterborough hosted the first IAO/RCO Organ Playing Competition, open to organists between the ages of 18 and 26 years. The finals were held in Peterborough Cathedral, on the last evening of the Festival, with the three competition finalists giving a 40-minute recital in front of adjudicators, Martin Baker, Edward Higginbottom and Steven Grahl.

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Playing Brahms in Berlin

August 6, 2018

The RCO runs study trips abroad - a splendid opportunity to play organ repertoire on the instruments for which it was written. Robbie Carroll went on a recent RCO study trip to Germany, playing Brahms, Reger and Reubke on organs in Berlin, Leipzig and Merseburg. He sent us this personal account of the trip.

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