RCO Medals announced for Simon Preston and John Rutter

RCO Medals announced for Simon Preston and John Rutter


The Royal College of Organists is to recognise the achievements of two of Britain's most distinguished musicians by awarding them its highest honour, the RCO Medal.

The honorands will receive the RCO Medal at the College’s Conferment of Diplomas at Southwark Cathedral on March 8th 2014 – a ceremony which also marks the 150th anniversary of the College.

The 2014 RCO Medal recipients are:

Dr Simon Preston CBE, in recognition of distinguished achievement in organ performance and choral conducting.

Simon Preston made his debut at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in 1962; was shortly afterwards appointed Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey; and in 1970 became Organist of the Cathedral and Tutor in Music at Christ Church, Oxford, where his work with the choir won high praise. In 1981, he was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, where again his work with the choir received great acclaim.

After leaving the Abbey in 1987, he continued to pursue an active career as a highly sought-after and acclaimed concert organist and award-winning recording artist. Classic CD named him in its list, ‘The Greatest Players of the Century’, which included the entire classical music world. The recording of Handel’s Coronation Anthems with the Westminster Abbey Choir conducted by Simon Preston was awarded a ‘Grand Prix du Disque’ in 1983. In October 2000, Deutsche Grammophon launched his complete recording of Bach’s organ works. In addition to his activities as a performer, Simon Preston is known as an organ and choral composer. In 2009, Simon Preston was made a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List, and in 2011 he was made an honorary Student at Christ Church, Oxford University, and awarded an honorary doctorate by Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada.

Dr John Rutter CBE, in recognition of distinguished achievement in choral arrangement, composition, and conducting.

John Rutter studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first published compositions and conducted his first recording. His compositional career has embraced both large- and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television, and specialist writing for such groups as the King’s Singers. His larger choral works—Gloria (1974), Requiem (1985), Magnificat (1990), Psalmfest (1993), and Mass of the Children (2003)—have been performed many times in Britain, North America, and elsewhere. He co-edited four volumes in the Carols for Choirs series with Sir David Willcocks, and, more recently, has edited the first two volumes in the Oxford Choral Classics series.
John Rutter formed the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir primarily dedicated to recording, and he now divides his time between composition, conducting, and lecturing. In 1980, he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music. He was honoured in the 2007 Queen’s New Year Honours List, being awarded a CBE for services to music.

Awarded for the first time in 2012, The Medal of the Royal College of Organists (‘RCO Medal’) recognises distinguished achievement in one or more of the following areas relating to organ and choral music: performance, teaching, scholarship, composition, organ-building, conducting, administration, philanthropy. It is also available to recognise specific service to the College.

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