Richard Marlow, for nearly 40 years director of music at Trinity College Cambridge, has died
Founder of the college's modern mixed-voice choir
Such is today's reputation of the mixed-voice choir of Trinity College, Cambridge – exemplified by their recent Gramophone Award-winning recording of music by Howells – that it would be easy to think their heritage is a long and established one. It isn't. The choir was only founded by Richard Marlow in 1982, four years after Trinity College admitted women undergraduates, and its present renown under Stephen Layton owes much to Marlow’s decades of development.
Choral music in the college of course goes back many centuries to the origins of Trinity College itself, and until the early 20th century a chorister school provided trebles. But by the time Richard Marlow took up the post of director of music in 1968, services were sung by undergraduate trebles and basses. 'Re-forming' the choir with the top lines restored, Marlow grew its reputation, making a number of well-received recordings, for Conifer (many sadly now not available), Chandos and Hyperion.
Gramophone reviews tend to highlight a blended, balanced choral sound – 'supremely polished and elegantly shaped', as Jonathan Freeman-Attwood put it when reviewing Volume 1 of Sweelinck’s Cantiones Sacrae Vol 1 on Hyperion (07/99). In a review in 2006, just before Marlow handed over to Layton, of a disc of music by Mendelssohn, John Steane described Trinity Choir as 'of the front rank' offering 'plenty of life and full-bodied voices'.
Born in Surrey in 1939, Marlow was an organ scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he later became a research fellow. After a period teaching at Southampton University, he returned to continue his academic life at Cambridge, holding the post at Trinity at Cambridge until his retirement in 2006, and conducting and giving harpsichord and organ recitals internationally.
Richard Marlow, conductor and organist
Born July 26, 1939; died June 16, 2013