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Cathedral organists


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#16 Vox Humana

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 17:45

I guess if you were at the College, VH, you had Richard Latham in Room 99?

 

He wasn't my teacher, but I certainly do remember Richard Latham. I think his room number may have been 92, but after fifty years my memory is fading! I do recall it having a rather indifferent three-manual extension organ. I did my ARCM performer's diploma on that.
 

It's interesting - and heartening - that standards are higher these days. To me it seems counter-intuitive given what seems to be a declining interest in classical music among the populace at large. Clearly there's still more than enough of it alive and kicking. What has caused the rise though? Specialist music schools? A higher standard of teaching?

Nick Danby also taught at the RCM. I remember him taking a group of us around some interesting old organs in London, of which the only one I remember now is the (now rather altered) Byfield instrument at St Mary, Rotherhithe.


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#17 HelenVJ

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 18:15

He was the organist at the Jesuit Church in Farm Street, and I depped for him a few times there! I also sang at St Paul's Knightsbridge, where Richard Latham had been installed for very many years! I think his son took over.


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#18 maggiemay

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 19:11

Vox Humana, your journey was not dissimilar to mine. There was virtually no money for lessons -athough my (widowed) mother would have found it somehow. I was encouraged and helped in my teens by a kindly local teacher, who regularly ‘forgot’ to send us the bill.

I gained a scholarship to the RSCM, followed by a place at RCM for 3 years.

Richard Latham was my organ teacher at RCM. And I did my ARCM teacher’s on that 3 manual - have a feeling it might have been room 90?

Actually I found RL disinterested, and the least inspiring of the three organ teachers I had between teen and graduation years.
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#19 HelenVJ

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 19:40

Oh I've just remembered - Room 99 was the nickname for the pub round the corner, as the College room numbers went up to 98 laugh.png


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#20 Vox Humana

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 20:09

Richard Latham was my organ teacher at RCM. And I did my ARCM teacher’s on that 3 manual - have a feeling it might have been room 90?

Actually I found RL disinterested, and the least inspiring of the three organ teachers I had between teen and graduation years.

 

Ah yes. Now you mention it, I'm sure you are right about it being room 90. I'm not altogether surprised at your assessment of RL.  I found him pleasant, but he didn't seem to carry much cachet amongst college students. Then again, all the other organ teachers were well-known names (although one or two of them did very little other than make the prospectus look more attractive.)


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#21 Vox Humana

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Posted 04 December 2018 - 20:11

Oh I've just remembered - Room 99 was the nickname for the pub round the corner, as the College room numbers went up to 98 laugh.png

A bit like the nineteenth hole on a golf course!


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#22 annet

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 08:44

After questioning various people at the Conservatoire which rejected him, it appears that the real entry requirements are ARCO and a year as an organ scholar at a cathedral.  When I asked why the prospectus and Open Days pedal the "Grade 8 standard" line, the answer was that "no-one would apply and we have to be inclusive". I pointed out that audition fees are at least £50 per Conservatoire and that for some people spending hundreds of pounds on audition fees is a lot of money.The reply was that "no-one has ever complained before and the schools which regularly supply organ candidates know the requirements". 

 

Now he knows that his final audition will be for experience only, he has decided to take Lucid's advice and turn his University application strategy upside down.  Obviously, he can't now apply to start in 2019 because applications have been open since September and all the organ scholar places will have been taken.  So he's looking at which cathedrals are affiliated to which universities and finding a course that would enable him to apply for an organ scholar.

 

I just wish Conservatoires would be honest about their entry requirements. It's dishonest to say that they are "inclusive" when the stated entry requirements are not what they really want.

 

 


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#23 Vox Humana

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:04

When I asked why the prospectus and Open Days pedal the "Grade 8 standard" line, the answer was that "no-one would apply and we have to be inclusive". I pointed out that audition fees are at least £50 per Conservatoire and that for some people spending hundreds of pounds on audition fees is a lot of money.The reply was that "no-one has ever complained before and the schools which regularly supply organ candidates know the requirements". ...

It's dishonest to say that they are "inclusive" when the stated entry requirements are not what they really want.

 

I am surprised - and not pleasantly. That reply really is very disappointing. To advertise one thing while admitting that, in reality, you are only talking to a clique of cognoscenti is, as you say, dishonest and does smack of elitism. I am also cynical enough to wonder whether it isn't a deliberate ruse in order to maximise audition fees.


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#24 HelenVJ

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:11

Of course, there will still be huge competition for organ scholarships at cathedrals attached to a university. Not only will these cathedrals have the pick of the music undergraduates but also of science or maths undergrads etc. And they will take on at most one or two organ scholars a year. Sorry if that sounds discouraging, but that is the reality.
But it's not true to say that university music courses are all predominantly theoretically based. Oxford and Cambridge still are, but many other courses have a huge performance element - York, for example, has a great department with many performance options. As your son has 3 Grade 8s, he should easily find a university course to suit him, and he might find this more enjoyable than a music college. I wish university had been an option way back in the day when I was doing applications, but it was never even suggested! I just did the rounds of London music college auditions, but I think a uni course would have suited me rather better.


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#25 Stephen Barber

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:57

But it's not true to say that university music courses are all predominantly theoretically based. Oxford and Cambridge still are,

 

Well, in my day, undergraduates at Cambridge spent a huge amount of time making music, though some (not me) were more academically inclined.

 

In any case "how does bar x in work y differ from bar z in work y" does not reflect a university music course! It'd be like saying that learning the piano was all about deciding where your thumb goes under in a C major scale!


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#26 HelenVJ

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 12:30

Oh there has always been loads of wonderful practical music at Oxford and Cambridge - masses of opportunities and groups. But Harmony, Counterpoint, Ananysis etc are still significant compulsory elements, which isn't the case at many other universities.


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#27 mrbouffant

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 13:13

I was often jealous of those talented youths who got to study music at university and go on to organ scholarships and - perhaps - permanent cathedral jobs.

However, the older I got, I realised that there are so few jobs to go around and they are poorly paid that it would be a route to be followed by only the most dedicated.

Having organning as a sideline rather than a career is rewarding in its own way and it still includes the occasional weekend playing a nice cathedral organ!


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#28 Stephen Barber

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 13:43

But Harmony, Counterpoint, Ananysis etc are still significant compulsory elements, which isn't the case at many other universities.

Gosh! What do they teach? No chance of passing FRCO paperwork, then!


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#29 annet

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 14:21

He realised it was going to be a difficult route to follow and was prepared to be rejected - it's that the stated facts and the actual reality are totally different which is so annoying.  We would have spent the audition fee money on lessons and the ARCO exam and applied for organ scholar posts instead of a Conservatoire had we known that was what was needed.

However, he's made a list of all the cathedrals (I didn't realise there were so many!) and is in the process of emailing them all to see if they offer organ scholar places (and if they're still free). Surprisingly (only because it was an option that hadn't even crossed our minds) some Public schools offer organ scholar places with the added advantage of gaining teaching experience.  He's determined enough to succeed even if it's not via a conventional route.


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#30 Vox Humana

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 14:25

 

But Harmony, Counterpoint, Ananysis etc are still significant compulsory elements, which isn't the case at many other universities.

Gosh! What do they teach? No chance of passing FRCO paperwork, then!

 

Just what I was wondering. Even ARCO would be a closed book.


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