Richard Marlow (1939-2013)

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Trinity College director of music dies aged 73

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Farewell to Richard MarlowRichard Marlow, who founded the Trinity College Choir in 1982, has died at the age of 73.

Born in 1939, Marlow was an organ scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge, before becoming a research fellow. He took up the post of musical director at Trinity College Cambridge in 1968 and is credited with modernising the choral tradition at the college by founding and developing a mixed-voice choir in 1982. In 1969, Marlow also founded the Cambridge University Chamber Choir, working with a number of leading composers, including Benjamin Britten.

Under Marlow’s direction, the Trinity College Choir made around 30 well-received recordings with Conifer Records, Chandos and Hyperion and undertook extensive international tours. Alongside his role as conductor, Marlow gave organ and harpsichord recitals internationally. Marlow wrote articles and reviews for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

He retired from his directorship at Trinity in 2006, but continued to teach at the college as a life fellow.

Marlow was also co-founder and artistic director of Portland’s William Byrd Festival. Dean Applegate, also the festival’s co-founder, paid tribute to Marlow in The Oregonian: ‘He was a genius at choir training, shaping the phrase and imposing his will on the choir. The Trinity College Choir always sounded the same, from year to year.

‘He didn't approve of loud singing at all. The most we'd ever get to was mezzo-forte. He didn't consider loud choir singing beautiful. He was very refined in his taste. The choir learned to sing very, very softly’.

Emily Clark