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D Quentin Bellamy

Royal College Of Organists

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I think I've joined this thread about 2 years late, but it has been very interesting. I've never joined the RCO as I've always felt that the subscription was far too high in respect of what one got out of it. I made some enquiries to them a couple of years ago as part of some research I was doing, regarding whether they had some particular organ pieces in their library. I had to make the enquiry 4 times before I got a response, and when I did, I was told that the library really only held 'proper organ music', and that the Victorian pieces to which I was referring were not considered to come under this category. They suggested that I searched round charity shops to find them! Funnily enough I eventually found them in the British Library!

 

David

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The RCO membership directory is downloadable (by members) from the website as a .pdf file and as such is searchable.

 

As at June 2007 there were 25 HonFRCOs - most of them with names even I recognise (Ian Tracey, Gillian Weir, Marie-Claire Alain, Gerre Hancock, Simon Preston, Petr Eben and so on) and the ones I don't know of seem to have OBEs. It looks pretty much as one might expect.

 

Perhaps there are many others who choose not to be included in the directory.

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

 

No disrespect to the folks now running the RCO, but I didn't.

 

SNIP

 

The plentiful and rather haphazard election of honorary FRCOs and those people's involvement in any way with examinations when they themselves had never sat an RCO exam.

 

SNIP

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I don't think it does us any favours by sniping from the outside. They have taken some time to come into the 20th century, and are making their way into the 21st century, but that's the nature of organisations of that age. They are not perfect, but they are trying. And along with the ABRSM, they are the only people awarding exams these days who haven't dumbed down the exams. Those who really are against the idea of the RCO should do something about it. Winge over!

 

Having said that, I was disappointed the Birmingham project had to be scrapped. The thought of a national centre, concert hall, library etc. would have done us all the world of good. Although, I wasn't sad to see the back of the foreign organ. Can you imagine the French, Germans or Americans building something like this and then kicking their own national industry in the teeth by going abraod for a builder?

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I don't think it does us any favours by sniping from the outside. They have taken some time to come into the 20th century, and are making their way into the 21st century, but that's the nature of organisations of that age. They are not perfect, but they are trying. And along with the ABRSM, they are the only people awarding exams these days who haven't dumbed down the exams. Those who really are against the idea of the RCO should do something about it. Winge over!

 

Having said that, I was disappointed the Birmingham project had to be scrapped. The thought of a national centre, concert hall, library etc. would have done us all the world of good. Although, I wasn't sad to see the back of the foreign organ. Can you imagine the French, Germans or Americans building something like this and then kicking their own national industry in the teeth by going abraod for a builder?

Harumph.... :huh:

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Harumph.... :blink:

I have been a bit slow to spot this thread, but the fact that it now runs to 12 pages underlines the fact that many of us are less than pleased to pay £73 for very little. In the "old days" at least the sub went towards something tangible - the cost of maintaining the fantastic Kensington Gore building (the atmosphere of which, and those wonderful stern photographs of giants in the organ world, linked we humble musicians directly to the past) and, of course the HNB organ. I know opinions varied about the organ, but I rather liked it! Now it seems that we pay just for a PO box number, a few e-mails and the glossy RCO News. No longer do we even have a properly printed handbook.

 

Each June, for the past few years I have written to voice my concerns about the rising subscription and about the hon FRCO award (the latter query spurred on by hearing that one recipient of an hon FRCO had said that they were pleased to receive it as in their student days they coudn't be bothered to do the paperwork!), and have had full replies from Roy Massey, Peter Wright and latterly Kim Gilbert (The General Manager). The replies (with a fair amount of "cut and paste", so others must have received similar letters) went over much the same ground about changing circumstances, rising costs etc. but I have to admit to not being impressed by the attempts to make me feel guilty at questioning exactly where our money has gone.

After membership of over 30 years I have exhausted my loyalty to the RCO and fear that this will be my last year of membership. Perhaps the way forward is for the RCO to join forces with the RAM or RCM - at least they have premises and run internationally respected courses.

 

Interestingly, the decline in the RCO is rather similar to the demise of the RSCM - but that is another topic!

 

Hohlflute FRCO

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I have also chosen not to renew my subscription. I can no longer afford to be treated as a charitable institution, in order solely to provide funds for the RCO to run its youth outreach programme - however valid this may be.

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After membership of over 30 years I have exhausted my loyalty to the RCO and fear that this will be my last year of membership. Perhaps the way forward is for the RCO to join forces with the RAM or RCM - at least they have premises and run internationally respected courses.

 

Hohlflute FRCO

 

 

=========================

 

 

This is exactly what I have been saying all along........the need to join forces with established educational foundations.

 

Consider something like Huddersfield Uni, where there is a fine organ in a wonderful hall, a local Town Hall with a good organ (Willis/Harrison), a flourishing organ association, good road and rail links, and even the quite famous contemporary music festival.

 

There must be other Huddersfield's, but this is the sort of place which would could both benefit FROM the RCO, and bring benefit TO the RCO.

 

It really isn't difficult, is it?

 

What alarms me, is the prospect of the RCO (or any other worthwhile academic establishment), simply fizzling out due to lack of financial acumen and a lack of vision.

 

That is nothing other than incompetence!

 

MM

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Guest Cynic
=========================

This is exactly what I have been saying all along........the need to join forces with established educational foundations.

 

Consider something like Huddersfield Uni, where there is a fine organ in a wonderful hall, a local Town Hall with a good organ (Willis/Harrison), a flourishing organ association, good road and rail links, and even the quite famous contemporary music festival.

 

There must be other Huddersfield's, but this is the sort of place which would could both benefit FROM the RCO, and bring benefit TO the RCO.

 

It really isn't difficult, is it?

 

What alarms me, is the prospect of the RCO (or any other worthwhile academic establishment), simply fizzling out due to lack of financial acumen and a lack of vision.

 

That is nothing other than incompetence!

 

MM

 

 

Sorry to rush to amend one of your statements MM, I regret to tell you that the Huddersfield Organists' Association is no longer flourishing, it has been wound up! I was very sorry to hear this news recently. It is the old story apparently, that of a few stalwarts having to fill demanding positions in the organisation year after year and nobody else coming forward. I wish I lived nearer. In every other respect what you say about Huddersfield is true. You may not have heard, but recent news is that Gordon Stewart has been re-appointed to his former position as Borough Organist.

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That's very sad news about the org assoc, though excellent news about Gordon Stewart, given his experiences 'over the pond'.

 

Is the excellent Mrs Sunderland Music Festival still going, does anyone know? They had a relatively well supported organ class in my youth which I occasionally won. The organ classes were held in the Town Hall, quite a thrill for a 15 year old, and then the winner got to play in a big competition with other instrumentalists in the St Pauls Hall. I never won that bit (though it was the place where I took the FRCO years later).

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So here's another RCO question...

 

What is the average age of those gaining RCO diplomas - are they all in their teens and twenties or are there any "oldies" among them these days??

 

Q

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So here's another RCO question...

 

What is the average age of those gaining RCO diplomas - are they all in their teens and twenties or are there any "oldies" among them these days??

 

Q

Well, I collected mine last March and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were others of my age also picking up. No, I'm not telling you my age (though I'm nearly at THAT big birthday when life is supposed to start!) There was a real mix of ages, compared to when I was a youngster and picked up the ARCO and most of us were in the 17-22 age range. Let's face it, Oxbridge colleges can bearly fill the organ scholarship places, so the young wunderkind variety are a little more thin on the ground. I also noticed that there are a fair few 'retired', late starters all having a go at the Cert RCO, which is obviously to be encouraged.

 

I also might add that the ceremony and bun fight afterwards was exceptionally well done (other than the cake running out, but that's because a few more turned up than had said). When I got the ARCO, tickets were limited to 2 per recipient and it was all VERY formal (they might have been putting on their best behaviour for Messiaen who was getting an Hon RCO, presumably because he couldn't pass the tests!). This time, all were welcome and my family, parents, children all came to Southwark and a number of others also came. It made the afternoon much more of a pleasure to see some families there. And contrary to what you might think, there were about 10 children of single figure age there with various diploma receivers, and they all managed to sit still and quietly during the excellent organ recital by Matthew Owens.

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When I sat ARCO paperwork about 3 years ago, I was the oldest there by about 15 years! It was full of pale, spotty, snotty scarf-clad younglings who clearly needed to get out in the sun more and, indeed, needed to get some perspective!

 

I trust if I ever get to FRCO paperwork, things will look a bit different!

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Beloved Brethren

 

Since this thread commenced on 1 November 2006, I checked back on the RCO website today, and I notice that the membership sub has increased and is a snip at a mere 76 quid! Our best efforts to bring the annual sub down to an affordable price have fallen (alas) upon ears deafened no doubt by endless persons desperately seeking to acquire letters after their name.

 

Now don't get me wrong. I'd love to belong to the jolly old RCO; but being rather (ermm) tight-fisted, I am still wondering what I'd get for the dosh.

 

Are there any developments since the Birmingham debacle to encourage one to remember the college in one's will? :lol:

 

In short, what news the RCO?

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Beloved Brethren

 

Since this thread commenced on 1 November 2006, I checked back on the RCO website today, and I notice that the membership sub has increased and is a snip at a mere 76 quid! Our best efforts to bring the annual sub down to an affordable price have fallen (alas) upon ears deafened no doubt by endless persons desperately seeking to acquire letters after their name.

 

Now don't get me wrong. I'd love to belong to the jolly old RCO; but being rather (ermm) tight-fisted, I am still wondering what I'd get for the dosh.

 

Are there any developments since the Birmingham debacle to encourage one to remember the college in one's will? :lol:

 

In short, what news the RCO?

erm...loyal members got offered the opportunity to take out an exclusive RCO credit card. Does that count?

 

Oh, I nearly forgot, and the chance to congratulate yet more deserving Honorary Fellows, for whom a lifetime's dedicated service to our Art has spared them the vulgar exigencies of transposition, score reading, figured bass, improvisation, harmony, counterpoint, history, composition...

 

I wonder if things would be different if K.B. Lyndon were still Clerk? If prospective members couldn't demonstrate they owned a decent fountain pen, I think they were barred for life!

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erm...loyal members got offered the opportunity to take out an exclusive RCO credit card. Does that count?

 

Oh, I nearly forgot, and the chance to congratulate yet more deserving Honorary Fellows, for whom a lifetime's dedicated service to our Art has spared them the vulgar exigencies of transposition, score reading, figured bass, improvisation, harmony, counterpoint, history, composition...

 

I wonder if things would be different if K.B. Lyndon were still Clerk? If prospective members couldn't demonstrate they owned a decent fountain pen, I think they were barred for life!

Curiously the President-elect has decided to stand down due to some decision pertaining to the responsibilities of RCO Presidents....

 

Doesn't sound too happy in the hallowed cyber-corridors of PO Box 56357 London n'est ce pas? :lol:

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
The desire to impress at vast (other people's) expense - just read those (still quite recent) announcements about the new Goll organ!

 

I would really like to know how many of those agreeing on having an instrument from this firm actually visited examples abroad before their decision - organs of approximate and appropriate size that would match the dimensions of the proposed room. How informed, therefore, was the committee? Also I would enjoy knowing how many other builder's work was appraised by the college before the final decision. The cost of such expeditions is considerable for such numbers of a committee and so I wonder who financed their tours, if they ever did so.

 

I have met so many organ builders throughout the world who had letters written in such a way that to them (some with not a great understanding of our language), who thought that they were the 'chosen one' for the job. I have concluded that there were some 10's who were involved in the debacle with such a letter.

 

There is (I hope) the apocryphal story of one member at a meeting saying that he didn't mind who built the organ so long as it had an Harrison & Harrison console.

 

These things exercise my mind unfortunately.

 

With best wishes,

Nigel

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Guest drd

Yes, the last several years do not appear to have allowed the College to portray itself in too good a light. I have no direct knowledge of exactly what has happened and why, except that gleaned piecemeal from this board.

 

However it arose, I think the transmogrification into a virtual college organisation was forced on the RCO by the circumstances in which it found itself. Not ideal, but perhaps understandable - and at least technology now allows for 'joined-up' organisational communications witout having to have face to face contact.

 

I have no doubt that there are people concerned with running the college's programmes who are concerned to do a good and inspiring job.

 

It will be good for all of us if the College is able to evolve and provide an inspiration to all organists.

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Yes, the last several years do not appear to have allowed the College to portray itself in too good a light. I have no direct knowledge of exactly what has happened and why, except that gleaned piecemeal from this board.

 

However it arose, I think the transmogrification into a virtual college organisation was forced on the RCO by the circumstances in which it found itself. Not ideal, but perhaps understandable - and at least technology now allows for 'joined-up' organisational communications witout having to have face to face contact.

 

I have no doubt that there are people concerned with running the college's programmes who are concerned to do a good and inspiring job.

 

It will be good for all of us if the College is able to evolve and provide an inspiration to all organists.

 

The problem the college has is that it offers nothing to the majority of organists out their actually doing the job rather than training for it, consequently, the high membership fee becomes a luxury, hence my own resignation from the college.

 

Jonathan

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The problem the college has is that it offers nothing to the majority of organists out their actually doing the job rather than training for it, consequently, the high membership fee becomes a luxury, hence my own resignation from the college.

 

Jonathan

 

Indeed. I have also resigned. Naturally, the RCO were not remotely perturbed - neither did they attempt to answer many of the points which I made in my letter. I have long felt that the RCO tended to treat its non-student members simply as a means of gathering revenue, in order to fund its training programmes. This is all very well, but, as a number of board members have pointed-out, the fee is not that cheap - particularly when one considers that we get virtually nothing for it in return. In addition, the RCO may be a registered charity - I am not, neither can I afford to be. I cannot remember the last time the RCO organised 1) an event in the south of England or 2) an event which was of practical benefit to post-student members.

 

I have to say that I do not regret my decision for one moment. I am now very slightly better off. In any case, all I did receive in return was an occasional news letter, which invariably informed me how they were spending my membership fee (generally on yet another youth training/outreach programme). Please do not think for a moment that I am unsupportive of their efforts to encourage young organists - quite the reverse. However, it is surely reasonable to expect that the RCO could have organised something appropriate in return at least occasionally, by way of thanks for the support which they have received.

 

In fact, I used the membership fee to purchase several rather good bottles of wine. Personally, I would find it somewhat taxing to think of a more appropriate way of spending the money....

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The announcement on the news section of the RCO website implies that is something to do with the trustee side of things but I suspect that we are unlikely to find out more than that, officially. The e-mail edition of the members' monthly magazine. received a few days ago, does not mention it. I keep counsel over which side may be the loser.

 

Malcolm Kemp

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Indeed. I have also resigned. Naturally, the RCO were not remotely perturbed - neither did they attempt to answer many of the points which I made in my letter. I have long felt that the RCO tended to treat its non-student members simply as a means of gathering revenue, in order to fund its training programmes. This is all very well, but, as a number of board members have pointed-out, the fee is not that cheap - particularly when one considers that we get virtually nothing for it in return. In addition, the RCO may be a registered charity - I am not, neither can I afford to be. I cannot remember the last time the RCO organised 1) an event in the south of England or 2) an event which was of practical benefit to post-student members.

 

I have to say that I do not regret my decision for one moment. I am now very slightly better off. In any case, all I did receive in return was an occasional news letter, which invariably informed me how they were spending my membership fee (generally on yet another youth training/outreach programme). Please do not think for a moment that I am unsupportive of their efforts to encourage young organists - quite the reverse. However, it is surely reasonable to expect that the RCO could have organised something appropriate in return at least occasionally, by way of thanks for the support which they have received.

 

In fact, I used the membership fee to purchase several rather good bottles of wine. Personally, I would find it somewhat taxing to think of a more appropriate way of spending the money....

 

I'm also not unsupportive of the work they do with young people, but I need more support, especially the likes of the ISM and MU which provide me with legal and financial advice as well as endemnity. If the RCo did that maybe I would rejoin, but only maybe!

 

Jonathan :rolleyes:

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I'm also not unsupportive of the work they do with young people, but I need more support, especially the likes of the ISM and MU which provide me with legal and financial advice as well as endemnity. If the RCo did that maybe I would rejoin, but only maybe!

 

Jonathan :rolleyes:

Ermmm well, they can give you a credit card.... and the financial advice would be NOT to use it! :P

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