Now and then: Spring Festival courses & conference celebrate RCO 150th

Now and then: Spring Festival courses & conference celebrate RCO 150th

The Royal College of Organists has confirmed details of a Spring Festival of courses and a special conference as part of its 150th anniversary programme.

The festival, to run in Oxford from 9th to 12th April, brings together the College’s traditional three-day Easter course with two one-day events: a Set Your Sights! event for would-be organ scholars; and an anniversary conference on the foundation and early history of the RCO.

The RCO Easter Course will be based at Oxford’s Merton College, affording participants the use of the new organ by Dobson, as well as access to many of the city’s finest organs for both tuition and recitals from organists of worldwide renown: including Prof Graham Barber, Margaret Phillips, Thomas Trotter, Dr David Maw, James Parsons, Dr Frederick Stocken and Simon Williams.

There will be tuition strands covering both exam preparation and repertoire & skills. The exam strands for CertRCO, ARCO and FRCO provide both essential study for those entered for the July exam session and also an invaluable introduction to the exam requirements for those whose sights are set further ahead.

The repertoire & skills strand is available for those already of diploma standard who would like some intensive further study. Repertoire in this 150th year will include music by Sir Hubert Parry (twice President of the College) and C P E Bach (whose 300th anniversary also falls in this year).

Set Your Sights! takes place on 12th April, comprising a full-day programme for teenage organists aiming for an organ scholarship at university or cathedral, or simply wishing to gain experience in conducting and accompanying choirs.

Again based at Merton College, the programme will include: a masterclass on playing with Margaret Phillips; learning to sing, accompany and conduct Choral Evensong with Jeremy Summerly; and help with repertoire and keyboard skills from RCO Academy's James Parsons and Simon Williams

Also on Saturday 12th April is a special one-day conference entitled: The Royal College of Organists examined: the foundation and early history of the RCO.

Held at Somerville and Keble Colleges and delivered in partnership with the Open University, the conference will examine the environment which led to the foundation of the College of Organists in 1864, and investigate the preoccupations of the College's founding fathers and early members as they established a professional body for British organists, which eventually earned a Royal Charter in 1893.

Speakers include:
• Prof Graham Barber (Leeds University): Organ playing and organ composition in late-19th-century Britain.
• Dr Martin Clarke (The Open University): ‘Loud organs, his glory forth tell in deep tone’: the interaction of music, liturgy and theology in mid-19th-century Britain.
• Timothy Day (Hereford): Where did the English treble come from?
• Dr Rosemary Golding (The Open University): The organist’s profession in the 1850s and 60s
• Peter Horton (Royal College of Music): The road to Olympus: the early careers of four contrasting early-Victorian organists.
• Andrew McCrea (Royal College of Organists): The foundation of the College of Organists and its early initiatives.
• The Revd Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite (Guildford Cathedral): Organ design in the 1860s and instruments associated with the founders.
• David Wright (Tunbridge Wells): ‘Middle-classing’ the music profession in Victorian Britain.

The event will also feature a recital by Graham Barber at Keble College.

For details on the Spring Festival and these three special events, please visit our events page.

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