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Royal College Of Organists


D Quentin Bellamy

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There seems to be general agreement that the RCO does good things for kids.

 

What sort of events would those who have withdrawn from membership like the RCO to have run that would have made their membership 'value for money'?

 

I've attended a few events (as a parent) which whilst being 'open' were only attended by kids. These have included, for example, opportunities to improvise with David Briggs. I should think that might not be beneath some of the highly competent members here. Maybe grown-ups can't get away in the day because of work, or at weekends because of family commitments. Or maybe they feel uncomfortable about being mixed in with 14 year olds with grade 8 distinctions.

 

But I don't know. And neither, obviously, does the RCO. So perhaps it would be good to give them a few sensible ideas of the kind of thing they might do to make membership attractive to established organists. What sort of events would you like them to organise?

 

Best wishes

 

J

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One could think of a recent thread on this Board about registration &c., of pieces by Howells. We get a great deal of help offered from all angles about articulation &c., of Bach/Buxtehude but very little about how to interpret German 19th century music - Mendelssohn, Reger & Rheinberger. Or, even for the really keen organ anoraks, the keyboard music of Gibbons, Bull and Tallis. At least that's a starter.

 

Where would one want the RCO hold these events? London is in a corner of the UK where there are already many facilities for organists of all ages to hear recitals and get tuition (for example, St Giles School) but it is not terribly convenient for people living in Carlisle, Penzance or Retford (or even in Welsh vicarages). They do an annual course in Cambridge and they hold events around the UK.

 

As with so many organisations, musical and otherwise, it is difficult to arrange events where the content, subject matter, time, place and cost suit a goodly majority. There is a general feeling in this part of the world that people want to support organisations like the RCO in a passive way and expect them to arrange events but don't want to get involved personally.

 

Much as I remember with affection and gratitude the good old days when one entered that woefully inadequate building in Kensington Gore and Barry Lyndon, immaculately dressed as ever (he had previously worked in the hotel trade), remembered everyone's name instantly, we have moved on since then and, although I fully uinderstand what members of this Board are moaning about (and in a way I agree with them) the RCO currently tries harder (and to a certain extent succeeds) to provide far more outreach. training opportunities and member services than it ever did 30 years ago. Let's keep our moans in proportion and, as Just-a-Dad says, lets be positive about it and tell them what we would like them to do to give us better value for money.

 

People like Simon Williams have turned the RCO into a very different organistion to what it was and although what is on offer may not be perfect it is beter than we had before.

 

Malcolm Kemp

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Yes, positivity is a good thing. However, I guess that for a lot of people it's difficult to turn the brain around to be positive when the perception is that the RCO has ignored them but taken their money, for a long time.

 

Any organisation in its current position will find it hard to recover from the events of the past few years. I have sympathy, but not currently sure how that might translate into practicality.

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I wasn't really trying to be positive, or encouraging anyone else to be. I just thought that it was worth trying to be constructive. I'm sure there are enough people here with enough bright ideas to refresh the RCO. I'm just hoping that sufficient will remains amongst sufficient members to have a go, even if that requires the dispensing of a good deal of forgiveness.

 

I'm pretty certain that the RCO will be more than happy to listen to, and embrace, practical and attractive enhancements to its activities. (I know they'd rather all the great organists here who have resigned were still happily in membership.)

 

Best wishes

 

J

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Where would one want the RCO hold these events? London is in a corner of the UK where there are already many facilities for organists of all ages to hear recitals and get tuition (for example, St Giles School) but it is not terribly convenient for people living in Carlisle, Penzance or Retford (or even in Welsh vicarages). They do an annual course in Cambridge and they hold events around the UK.

I agree that London is already very well provided with organ-related resources and activities, and is generally awkward and expensive to reach by most modes of transport. The move to Birmingham would have been good for organists throughout the country, but even with a London base they could still hold events in the 'provinces'. I will probably join when the time comes to do the ARCO, but otherwise I haven't seen the need - yet.

 

I think that the RCO are right to concentrate on education - we're all learning all of the time. The problem is that, around the age of (say) 25, those who are already on the CertRCO/ARCO/FRCO ladder continue with the RCO, and the rest find themselves left behind. The RCO needs to provide for (and appeal to) those not playing the organ for a living, but still want to find a lifetime of absorbing study in the instrument. They could have a very positive influence on attitudes towards the instrument in this country, and I will do everything I can to support such an influence.

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Yes, positivity is a good thing. However, I guess that for a lot of people it's difficult to turn the brain around to be positive when the perception is that the RCO has ignored them but taken their money, for a long time.

 

Any organisation in its current position will find it hard to recover from the events of the past few years. I have sympathy, but not currently sure how that might translate into practicality.

 

Absolutely.

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