We are extremely pleased to welcome Richard Lea as our new Lead Tutor for the Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship. Mr Lea, who is a renowned organ tutor and performer, teaches at Liverpool University and has played for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
He is organist at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, a post which he took up in 1999, having previously been a scholar there during 1984-7, working with its organists Philip and Terence Duffy.
His involvement with the Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship is especially valuable as the aim of the course is to give scholars experience of practising on both of Liverpool cathedrals’ great organs.
Born in Wigan, Mr Lea studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and also had lessons with the acclaimed organist, the late Noel Rawsthorne, formerly of Liverpool Cathedral and who advised former Blue Coat Director of Music James Pinder on restoring the School Chapel Organ in 1974.
At Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Mr Lea has worked with Mervyn Cousins, Keith Orrell, Timothy Noon, and the current Director of Music, Christopher McElroy, an Old Blue who is also the Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship Supervisor.
Mr Lea said: “The Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship is a fantastic scheme, and I count myself privileged to be part of it, especially when working within such an excellent Music Department, building on traditions established by predecessors such as James Pinder, David Houlder, and currently Simon Emery.
“The scholars, ranging from near beginners to diploma level, are a delight to teach. I firmly believe musicians have to be ‘useful’, so I tend to emphasise a broad approach to organ playing, with particular attention to sight-reading, improvisation, and flexibility, as well as the more obvious aspects of learning repertoire and exam work.”
Mr Lea is pictured, main photo top, with the first two Blue Coat School Organ Scholars, George Ke, of Y11A, and Olivia Stone, of Y11C, and top left, with Alexandra Somova, of Y10B.
The Blue Coat Organ Scholarship was awarded the Royal College of Organists’ Accredited Institute status in 2021, personally presented by its Chief Executive Sir Andrew Parmley. This is the first time a state school has been awarded this accolade.
There are presently six scholars and was launched in 2019, with two being appointed each following year. Auditions for the next scholars are planned for late Autumn 2022.