2015 RCO Medal recipients announced

2015 RCO Medal recipients announced


The Royal College of Organists is to recognise the achievements of three distinguished musicians and scholars by awarding them its highest honour, the RCO Medal.

The 2015 recipients of the RCO Medal are:

Prof. Edward Higginbottom, in recognition of his distinguished achievements in choral conducting and organ- and choral-related scholarship.

Dr Ludger Lohmann, in recognition of his distinguished achievements in organ playing, organ teaching, and organ scholarship.

Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite, in recognition of his distinguished achievement in organ scholarship, specifically his research on the history of organ-building in the United Kingdom.

The honorands will receive the RCO Medal at the College’s Conferment of Diplomas at Southwark Cathedral on 14th March 2015.

Awarded for the first time in 2012, The Medal of the Royal College of Organists (‘The 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, and philanthropy; it is also available to recognise specific service to the College.

Edward Higginbottom enjoyed a long and distinguished career as Director of Music at New College, Oxford, a position from which he retired in 2014 after 38 years in post. Prof. Higginbottom brought an extensive knowledge of choral repertory and performance styles to his work there, and under his direction the Choir has achieved international recognition and has brought choral music of high quality to an increasingly wide-ranging public through more than 70 recordings and many concerts in the UK and abroad. Thanks to Prof. Higginbottom, the New College Choir has become renowned for its interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque music, and in recent years for its choral compilation recordings encompassing music from folk-song to Tavener and Pärt.

In conjunction with his choral work, Edward Higginbottom also worked in the Faculty of Music, teaching performance practice alongside other specialisms. He is renowned for his expertise on French music and he has published a number of articles in various journals and books. Higginbottom’s love of French culture has also borne fruit in editions of François Couperin’s chamber music, many recording projects featuring French music, and frequent invitations for New College Choir to sing in Europe and further afield. He is sought after as president of international music competitions and as a consultant. The French Ministry of Culture rewarded him with the honour ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ for his role in the revival of choir schools in France and for his support of French cultural activities.

Ludger Lohmann studied at the Musikhochschule and University of Cologne, and his organ teachers included Marie-Claire Alain, Anton Heiller, and Wolfgang Stockmeier. His musicological thesis was on keyboard articulation in the 16th–18th centuries. He won several international organ competitions, including the competition of the ARD (Association of German Broadcasting Corporations) in 1979, and the Grand Prix de Chartres in 1982. Since 1983, Dr Lohmann has been a Professor of Organ at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Stuttgart, alongside which he has held the appointment as titular organist of St Eberhard’s Catholic Cathedral. A central part of his activities is teaching talented students from all over the world in his Stuttgart organ class.

As a guest professor, Dr Lohmann visits music academies and universities in many countries and he teaches frequently on international organ courses. He is a regular faculty member of the prestigious academies at Haarlem and Göteborg, where he also contributes to the university’s organ research project (GOArt) as a senior researcher. He has been a regular visitor to the United Kingdom as a performer and as a pedagogue. Dr Lohmann has made concert tours throughout Europe, North and South America, Japan, and Korea, and has been a jury member at many international competitions.

Nicholas Thistlethwaite is well known for his research on the history of British organ-building, in particular nineteenth-century organ-building. His many years of research in this field came to fruition in The making of the Victorian organ (Cambridge University Press, 1990), which was the first comprehensive assessment of the topic, and now the definitive study. Dr Thistlethwaite co-edited (with Geoffrey Webber) The Cambridge companion to the organ (1998), a popular, multi-author textbook, which gives a comprehensive view of the organ and its repertoire, and he has contributed a number of articles to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001). In addition, he has published more than 60 articles and monographs on the history, construction, and liturgical use of organs.

Nicholas Thistlethwaite was founding Secretary, and later Chairman, of the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS). He has worked as an adviser on organs for the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, and has served as a member of the organs sub-committee of the Council for the Care of Churches. Dr Thistlethwaite’s work as an independent organ adviser has included instruments of many types and periods. Among them are new organs and organ restoration projects, including Birmingham Town Hall (1984, 2008), Eton College Chapel (1987), Buckingham Palace, Ballroom (2002), St Anne, Limehouse (2006), and most recently, Thaxted Parish Church. Dr Thistlethwaite is currently Sub Dean and Precentor of Guildford Cathedral. He is a member of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and organ adviser to the Diocese of Guildford. He also acts as an organ consultant and serves on various conservation and advisory bodies including those at Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral.

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