If the weather during RCO Academy’s Easter Course in mid-April in Cambridge made a gradual diminuendo over the three days of tuition, from bright Spring sunshine to April showers, this was matched and confounded by a crescendo in team spirit and group learning.
As course member Jonathan Davies remarked, “it was great to be in such a beautiful place with access to such wonderful organs”. We were most grateful to St John’s College for generously providing rooms for the written paper tuition and for the equally generous portions of food served in the Buttery at meal times.
Among the organs used for tuition were those at Clare, Gonville & Cauis’, Jesus, King’s, Queen’s, St Catharine’s and Trinity Colleges and at Trinity Hall.
Each day included a recital: tutors on the first and last days and course members on the middle, each person taking turns to make music in the vast, atmospheric chapel of St John’s College.
Daniel Hyde made the ‘Hindemith Connection’ on the exciting and colourful Kuhn organ of Jesus College in a programme which made links between Hindemith’s music and that of Reger, Karg-Elert, Dupré and even former Jesus College organ scholar and recent recipient of the RCO Medal, Peter Hurford.
John Kitchen made the ‘Krebs Connection’ on the Metzler organ of Trinity College (arguably still the best organ in Cambridge in the best organ acoustic?) with a wide variety of music by pupils of J S Bach, the master himself showing them how it might be done in the great B minor Prelude & Fugue, BWV 544.
As for the teaching programme, ARCO strand student David Pimm found it was “very nicely structured to stretch across the full ambit of the syllabus” and the tutors were “outstanding across the breadth of the course”. Another ARCO student, James Kealey, said simply: “Great course! Great help! Many thanks!”
Course members came from as far afield as Australia and as locally as Cambridge itself, and ranged in age from 17 to post-retirement (if there is still such a thing). Some were full-time musicians or music students whilst others were fitting RCO exam preparation into their spare time from their main career. As Mike Rudd said, it was “great to spend time with like-minded people”.
Planning has now started for the Easter Course 2014 which will be in Oxford, provisionally from 9-11 April. And we’re planning something special for this, the College’s 150th anniversary year!