Anniversary themes: RCO publishes 2013 Journal

Anniversary themes: RCO publishes 2013 Journal

The 2013 edition of the Royal College of Organists’ annual research publication, RCO Journal, has been published.

The latest edition, Vol. 7, opens with articles looking at William Russell, who died in 1813, and Henry Smart, who was born in that same year.

While they might be considered minor figures when viewed alongside other composers being celebrated this year, these British organist-composers made significant contributions to the organ and its repertoire. Gillian Ward Russell and Graham Barber construct uplifting anniversary appraisals of (respectively) Russell and Smart; both feature detailed analysis and the latter concludes with an updated work-list and commentary.

Benjamin Britten’s centenary is also marked with an article in which Paul Spicer shares the fruits of his many years’ experience rehearsing and conducting Britten’s choral music. This article is not only an aid to conductors seeking to (re-)introduce familiar and unfamiliar works, but also a challenge to the oft-made assumption that organists will automatically know how to train and conduct choirs. This is both an invaluable encapsulation of choral practice and a reminder to all about Britten’s exquisitely detailed and inventive works.

The fourth anniversary marked in this year’s journal refers to a College examination. Fela Sowande, whose organ music has enjoyed considerable critical examination in recent years was awarded FRCO (with the top prizes) 70 years ago this year. Born in Nigeria, Sowande was the first black African to achieve Fellowship. Dr Godwin Sadoh, looks closely at his use of indigenous materials (in several organ works) in a rich cultural analysis concerned with musical communication, and with elements of dance and musical conception.

Annelies Focquaert offers a thorough reappraisal of the much-lauded nineteenth-century figure Lemmens. According to standard sources the pedagogue-father of symphonic organ music spent time living in England, but there is far more to the story that this brief reference. In this article, the result of many years’ painstaking work, we learn about the intriguing variety and complexity of Lemmens’s time in Britain, and a light is shone on forgotten material and on many aspects of nineteenth-century music making.

A note on Momigny’s stance on organ registration by Alexei Panov introduces a second Belgian dimension to this issue.

RCO Director of Academic Development Andrew McCrea said: “Since being reintroduced by the College in 2007, the RCO Journal has quickly established itself as an important forum for scholarship related to the organ and its repertoire.

“We are delighted that articles from previous volumes of this new series of the Journal are now starting to appear in citations, not only in the Journal itself, but also in the broader realms of scholarly literature about music.”

Vol. 7 of the RCO Journal is available free of charge to Royal College of Organists members as a download or in print on request (visit

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