RCO unveils 2009 events programme

RCO unveils 2009 events programme

Some of the greatest composers, the best-loved venues and today's most influential musicians feature in the RCO's spring and summer events programme for 2009.

A series of ten events across five cities includes masterclasses, seminars, participation events, behind-the-scenes tours and specially-arranged recitals and festivals.

From the music of Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Purcell ( all of whom celebrate an anniversary in 2009) and the earliest known music for solo keyboard and orchestra, through to an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes at Westminster Abbey, the programme offers something for everyone with a love of organ and choral music. Highlights include:

28th February, Manchester Cathedral
The College's annual singing day will be conducted by Joseph Cullen (Chorus Director of London Symphony Chorus and Huddersfield Choral Society), with the organ played by Manchester Cathedral Organist Christopher Stokes. Participants will rehearse and perform well-known music by the four great composers with anniversaries in 2009: Handel (Zadok the Priest), Haydn (Nelson Mass), Mendelssohn (Hear my prayer) and Purcell (Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts).

The Organ Concerto in 18th Century England
12th March at Trinity College of Music, Greenwich, London
The earliest known music for solo keyboard with orchestral accompaniment is a sonata for organ and orchestra included by Handel in his Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno of 1707. From the mid-1730s he then began to incorporate organ concertos between the acts of his oratorios and, as a result, he is often credited with ‘inventing’ the organ concerto.

This event, a partnership between London Handel Festival, the Royal College of Organists and Trinity College of Music, uses the 2002 William Drake organ built in the English Eighteenth-Century style, and seeks to place Handel’s much performed and recorded concertos in the context of the much less frequently heard examples by his English contemporaries such as William Hayes, John Hook and John Stanley.

Discover Westminster Abbey
2nd May, Westminster Abbey, London
An exclusive RCO event offering privileged access to this much-loved venue for coronations and other great occasions of state. The day includes private tours of the Abbey and the Cheneygates Room, followed by attendance at part of choir practice and at choral evensong to hear Henry Purcell’s music performed by the Abbey’s famous choir under the direction of Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell.

Professor Bruce Wood of Bangor University, whose unrivalled knowledge of English music of the late sixteenth century and of Henry Purcell’s music in particular, will set the scene with a talk contrasting Purcell’s life and work at the Abbey with his career at the Chapel Royal. The day ends with a trip to the spacious organ loft for a demonstration of the five-manual Harrison and Harrison instrument.

National Performance Festival for Young Organists
25th May, Oxford
Taking place on the late-May Bank Holiday Monday, this Festival is for organists of all levels of experience up to the age of 19. Players will perform a piece of their choice on the organ of New College, Oxford to Katherine Dienes, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral, who will provide written comments. Players will also attend workshops held at other Colleges on aspects of organ playing led by Stephen Grahl, Assistant Organist of New College and Director of Music at London's St Marylebone Church, and Katharine Pardee, Betts Fellow in Organ Studies at Oxford University, and will attend a celebrity lunch time recital at Christ Church Cathedral given by David Goode.

Thomas Trotter masterclass on Bach's Trio Sonatas
27th May, St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham (6.30-9.30pm)
Thomas Trotter gives a masterclass with students from Birmingham Conservatoire prior to his performance of all six of JS Bach's Trio Sonatas at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Friday 29 May at 19:30 (pre-concert talk at 18:15). The class will use St Chad's renowned mechanical action Walker organ, and observers will be able to see all aspects of the class seated in the spacious gallery near the console.

Head of Education and Outreach at the RCO Simon Williams said: “We are pleased to have pulled together such as ambitious and varied programme for the first half of 2009, a programme which we hope will offer something for everyone with a love of organ and choral music.

“There is a wonderful mix of great composers, great musicians and great instruments to be found across the ten events, and something for players young and old, singers, and those who simply love the music and history of the organ.”

Details of all RCO events can be found at www.rco.org.uk, by emailing events@rco.org.uk, or calling 05600 767237.

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