Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique cycle at Westminster Cathedral

March 25, 2019

Charles Tournemire’s (1870–1939) L’Orgue Mystique is a cycle of solo organ pieces composed for use in the Roman Catholic liturgy. Tournemire wanted to do for the Roman Catholic Mass what Bach had done for the Lutheran Mass with his Orgelbüchlein. The completed work is subtitled '51 Offices of the liturgical year inspired by Gregorian chant and freely paraphrased', and Westminster Cathedral have begun a performance of the complete cycle (13 hours of music in its entirety) in a liturgical context: Martin Baker, Peter Stevens, Jonathan Allsopp and Adrian Gunning are among the organists taking part.

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Practise in Art Deco splendour, courtesy of the United Grand Lodge of England

February 27, 2019

Even in a big city like London, it can be difficult to find organ practice facilities. The United Grand Lodge of England have recently restored and enlarged the 1933 Henry Willis organ in the Grand Temple at Freemasons' Hall, and also installed a new three-manual and pedal Viscount Classic digital organ one of their meeting rooms there. They are generously offering practice time on these organs free of charge to RCO Members.

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Summer School 2019 – for all organists, at all levels

February 12, 2019

The RCO’s big Summer Course really does cater for all levels of playing – everyone gets an individual tailored timetable to suit their needs and abilities, and many people come back year after year as their playing progresses. Booking has opened for the 2019 Course. Read the experiences of three students in previous years, all at very different levels of ability.

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Children build an organ – the Orgelkids project

January 30, 2019

A project to engage young children with the pipe organ heritage of the Netherlands has created a global network of organisations allowing children to build and play a two-octave mechanical action organ. The original organ design by Wim Janssens is now being reproduced by professional organ builders in the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, Sweden, and now the UK, as part of the Orgelkids project world-wide.

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New Year, new repertoire

January 20, 2019

One of the more pleasurable of New Year resolutions is to decide to expand our repertoire and learn new pieces, and there's help here on iRCO, with no fewer than ten short videos on organ repertoire, presented by experts in their field. Each one provides inspiration on a different century, or a different musical culture, with advice on appropriate registration, style and performance.

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Lessons on the road to ARCO

January 13, 2019

Jonathan Davies regards achieving the ARCO qualification as his greatest personal achievement, though it was a long road from just wanting to play flashy pieces on the organ to acquiring the musicianship needed to qualify. He describes some of the techniques which led to final success, for the benefit of anyone else contemplating this examination.

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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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