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Harold Darke (1888–1976)

Harold DarkeIn the annals of 20th-century choral music the name of Harold Darke bears a distinguished and honourable place. As organist of St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, in the heart of the City of London, he achieved fame for his Monday lunchtime recitals – 1,833 concerts in all given over his fifty-year term of service from 1916 to 1966 – which became a musical institution. No less so did the performances of the St Michael’s Singers, which he founded in 1919 and conducted until his retirement, performing the choral classics and new works by Howells, Vaughan Williams and others. One of the high points of his career was his appointment in 1941 as organist of King’s College, Cambridge, during the absence on war service of Boris Ord. His expertise as a choir trainer and brilliance as an organist fitted him well for this post. Services at that time had been reduced to weekends, so he was able to continue his recitals in London and elsewhere, as well as his teaching at the Royal College of Music, where he was a professor for over sixty years.

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