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News > Alumni News > Robert Gower (OI 1960-70) Has Organ Music Book Published

Robert Gower (OI 1960-70) Has Organ Music Book Published

If you were to ask Robert what he enjoyed most at Ipswich School his response would be, "Organ lessons with John Ince."
11 Jan 2024
Alumni News

Whilst still at the School Robert worked as an organist at the Benefice of SS Lawrence and Stephen, from where he moved to Museum Street, Methodist Church, Ipswich which also had a choir to run. At the end of his A Levels Robert went on a two year scholarship to the Royal School of Church Music, Addington Palace, Croydon. There he sat the Oxford entrance exams and studied for both academic and practical music diplomas.

Robert's training involved instrumental, singing and choir training tuition as well as learning church music repertoire. Daily services for the dozens of students provided him with a great chance to develop his accompanimental experience. "A rather different world from music lessons at Ipswich in the top of the cricket pavilion, in the gas fumed tiled practice cells by the Prep School or in the dining room of the bursar's house in St Edmunds Road," commented Robert.

He was astonished to gain an Oxford organ scholarship and being invited to give recitals in prestigious venues. He said, "Being alone in places such as St Paul's Cathedral or King's College Chapel in Cambridge is humbling and solo recitals on national radio test nerves!"

Oxford led to a teaching career at three schools - St Paul's Boys, Radley College and Glenalmond College (where Robert was also a boarding housemaster and held wider academic responsibilities).

His main musical interest has centred on the English 20th century musical renaissance, chairing both the Percy Whitlock and Gerald Finzi charitable trusts. Formerly an examiner for the Associated Board and the Royal College of Organists, Robert has published extensively, with work for Oxford University Press, Boosey & Hawkes, Novello, Gehrmans and Banks Music Publications.

Robert's original tunes feature in Ancient & Modern hymn books and the recently published Revised English Hymnal, whilst he has also edited individual school collections. 28 years after the completion of Book 1 of Christmas Organ Music the second book titled the Oxford Book of Christmas Organ Music Book 2, compiled by Robert has just been released.

Looking back at his career Robert said, "One of the great rewards of teaching is watching former pupils develop their careers and keeping in touch with them. I've had a somewhat freelance career, developed alongside full time teaching, running music departments and housemastering."


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