News Archive: November 2007
The changes are designed to widen the appeal of the examination to both experienced amateur organists and developing students looking for a first rung on the public examination ladder.
The new syllabus, which will be examined from summer 2008, more closely reflects the fact that the vast majority of organists either make a living, or supplement their income, by playing for services in churches on a regular basis.
As a result, the CertRCO examination will emphasise the importance of good hymn playing, encourage efficient aural awareness and promote an in-depth knowledge of repertoire through the study of set works, some of which are appropriate for liturgical use.
The stylistic exercises - simple Bach chorale and Baroque two-part counterpoint - remain an important part of the Certificate's written paper, and offer grounding for more advanced work in this field in the College's higher diplomas.
The regulations and repertoire of the organ playing component of the practical examination remain unaltered. The College has also announced two introductory events to help students get to grips with the new syllabus. Sarah MacDonald FRCO, who sits on the RCO's Academic Board, explained: 'The CertRCO has been in existence for nearly five years now, and although the take-up has been consistent, numbers have been slightly below expectations.
'The 2008 revisions attempt to refocus the CertRCO's form and purpose in order to help it flourish in the same way that similar qualifications do for our sister organisations, The Royal Canadian College of Organists and the American Guild of Organists.
'With this in mind, we have looked closely at the examination requirements set by the RCCO and the AGO, and taken on board the more practical elements which we believe will greatly increase the attraction of CertRCO.
'The new syllabus amply demonstrates the expectations of the RCO as an examining body; exemplifies the high standards that continue to be required; and nurtures the technique and musicianship to which we all aspire.'
The RCO's Chief Examiner, Patrick Russill, added: 'It is the College's intention that CertRCO should offer accreditation to the extensive bedrock of the British organ-playing tradition. It is an ideal goal for those who have been playing for years and who would like to push themselves to achieve a recognised RCO qualification. And for the developing student, although it is not a pre-requisite for the ARCO, candidates would be well advised to begin their preparation for the Associateship by achieving the CertRCO.'
Organists interested in exploring the CertRCO can attend one of two special RCO events this spring.
The first afternoon event, entitled All you need to know about the revised CertRCO, takes place on 26th January 2008 at St George's Church, Hanover Square in London, and will offer comprehensive guidance on the requirements of the new syllabus.
The second, a study day on 21st June 2008, will take place at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich, London. This will offer practical help to students (and to teachers preparing students) on all components of the examination.
Patrick Russill said: 'The new CertRCO is a genuine test for the able organist, not just as a player, but as an informed, rounded musician, demonstrating, as the examination regulations put it: 'reliable and confident musicianship in public performance, and those skills which support practical musicianship.''
'I very much hope that the new revisions will help firmly place the CertRCO in the minds of organists and their teachers as the natural first rung of public qualification.'
For more information about the RCO's Certificate examination and all other aspects of the RCO examination programme, see www.rco.org.uk/examinations.php or contact the College's Director of Academic Development, Andrew McCrea at andrew.mccrea@ rco.org.uk
The concert opened with the choir running through their 'Warm Ups!' routine, showing at once the marvellous rapport Ian Wicks, the choir's director, has established with his choir of over 70 boys and girls from school Years 4 – 8. He expects the best from the children and that is exactly what they delivered. Ian also took the opportunity to explain to the audience the reasons for the different physical and vocal exercises the children perform - and revealing at the same time both the sense of fun and professionalism he instils.
The concert continued with Seek ye first the kingdom of God by Karen Lafferty, sung here as a round with a bright and cheerful sound. Barry Rose's beautifully lyrical Risen Lord came next, sung in two parts. By this stage many in the audience looked quite emotional – was this really their children achieving such high standards? Next came Dona nobis pacem in Latin in two parts, and then Truly the Lord is in this place by Peter Hurford. Ian explained to the audience that one of the joys of the choir was that at the moment they learnt everything by ear and from memory, so if he didn't tell them something was difficult, they didn't think it was – but, take it from him, this Hurford piece 'is tricky'. They not only performed it with real energy but then merged it, again in two parts, with the hymn All people that on earth do dwell; this real achievement was rewarded with huge applause.
Ian then addressed the audience saying that, currently, there was a lot of talk in government and the press about singing in primary schools and quoted the choral supremo Stephen Layton from an article published in The Times the previous day: '...the universities are the finishing schools of the choral process….it's the beginnings that we need to get right. I'd like to see cathedrals throughout the land throwing open their doors every Saturday morning, and running singing courses for hundreds of kids from all sorts of backgrounds – giving them a taste of using their voices in those great places…..' Ian continued, '…so I like to think that we're right at the cutting edge – I think your children are wonderful and are filling this cathedral with their superb sound.
'Future plans for the choir include collaborations with Salisbury Community Choir in Rutter's Mass of the Children and with Sarum Orchestra in a performance of Stari Most by Richard Chew in the cathedral. But above all I look forward to the choir taking part in cathedral services bringing it to the heart of our worship in this great cathedral.'
The concert resumed with Rutter's joyous I will sing with the spirit and concluded with the most famous song from 'Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat' Any dream will do.
Simon Hogan, the cathedral's Organ Scholar, was accompanist.
David Halls, Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral, said 'Salisbury Cathedral Junior Choir has made a superb start and is clearly going to go from strength to strength.' The choir can next be heard at the Christmas Eve Family Service on 24 December at 4pm.'
Free admission, retiring collection
Information: telephone 024 7652 1200 / 1212
'There is some wonderful music written for that time of year,' said Peter. 'I think this special concert of invigorating and exciting pieces will help people get into the Christmas spirit as well as blowing some of the dust out of the pipework!'
'After all the work that we had to do for the BBC1 Songs of Praise television recordings, I have not yet had very much time to work out the programme but there will be plenty to suit all tastes and ages. I am sure there will be many tunes that people will be able to recognise.'
Admission to the 45-minute long concert is free, with a retiring collection for Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust, and visitors are invited to come and go as time allows. Unique access will also be given to Peter in the organ loft through the large screen video projection at the front of the nave, a feature that has proved to be very popular with concert-goers of all ages.
'Now that the organ console is fully visible to the audience,' Peter added, 'it's become something of a tradition for us to decorate it in a festive manner, which all helps to get the Advent and Christmas season off to a rousing and celebratory start.'
Visitors to the cathedral will also be able to combine their visit with Christmas shopping as there will be a special 20% discount day on the majority of gifts and cards in the cathedral shop during the entire day, including a number of exclusive lines. A warm welcome will also await visitors in the cloister café where, among other delights, can be found some of the first mince pies of Christmas.
The cathedral shop and cloister café will be open between 10 am and 4 pm on Saturday 1 December.
For further enquiries please contact: Glyn Morgan, Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust 01432 374261 or 07771 520287
On Saturday, April 26th, 2008, the Organ Section of the Croydon Music Festival will again take place in Croydon Parish Church (through the kindness of the Vicar, The Rev. Colin Boswell, and the Director of Music, Nigel McClintock). We are delighted that the distinguished recitalist and teacher, Margaret Phillips, has agreed to adjudicate this year.
The syllabus offers opportunities for organists at all stages of achievement, from beginners playing manuals-only, through to recital standard, to practice on and play the splendid 4-manual Hill organ, and to receive expert and encouraging evaluation of their performance. In addition, one outstanding player will be offered the opportunity to give a recital at St. Paul's Cathedral, and others may be invited to play in the Festival's own concerts at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon.
Visiting organists in the Advanced and Recital classes are also invited to make the acquaintance of the fine 4-manual Father Willis in the nearby superb Pearson church of St. Michael, by invitation of the Vicar and the organist, Christopher Moore.
The Organ Section attracted 19 players last year, and is part of the Croydon Music Festival, one of the largest and most dynamic Festivals in the country. Over six weeks there will be a feast of classical and popular music, Asian music, brass bands, jazz and pop, speech and drama, and dance, all in a friendly but efficient atmosphere. Although primarily an amateur Festival, the Organ Section is open to organists who receive fees for their playing, provided that professional music does not constitute their main income.
Croydon Parish Church has ample parking, and is not far from East Croydon station - and the new Tramlink! For further information, or a Syllabus - available now - please contact the section Secretary, Geoffrey Shaw - 020 8660 3433. Email: email@example.com. The final date for entries is February 8th, 2008. Full details can also be found on our web site: croydonmusicfestival.co.uk