Inspiring Director of Music Retires after 40 Years

17 May 2013

Peter Crompton, treasured and charismatic Director of Music, retires after nearly 40 years at the Royal Hospital School. During this time he has encouraged a love for music in many thousands of young people and developed performances to the very highest level in the local community and at prestigious venues throughout the UK and beyond.
Peter joined the Royal Hospital School as Organist and Assistant Master in 1975 after completing his teaching practice at The Blue Coat School in Oldham. His ‘baptism of fire’ was to play the organ on BBC Songs of Praise aged just 22 when the School was featured on the popular Sunday night programme.
He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and graduated with honours and a prize for organ performance in 1974. Subsequently, he went on to St Katharine’s College, Liverpool where he undertook his post graduate study and organ lessons with the celebrated organist of Liverpool Cathedral, Noel Rawsthorne.
In the early days, Peter was involved in all areas of school life at the Royal Hospital School as Resident Assistant of Nelson House, Housemaster of Raleigh House, teaching afternoon games three times a week not to mention his commitments to the Music Department under Frank Davies (Director of Music 1958-84).
Peter became Director of Music of the Royal Hospital School in 1984 and founded the Holbrook Music Society and Choral Society with the aim of bringing music to the wider community and introducing the School to a diverse range of outstanding musical talent. Visiting musicians, to name just a few, included flamboyant and popular classical concert organist, the late Carlo Curley who was dubbed “The Pavarotti of the Organ” and who later became patron of the Holbrook Music Society, the well-respected saxophone trio The Fairer Sax, the world-renown English cathedral organist, Christopher Dearnley, who served in Salisbury Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral, and the unique and eclectic ensemble The Sheba Sound who never failed to cross musical boundaries.
As well as leading the music in a very busy department Peter gives regular organ recitals at many major venues which have included, St Pauls Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral as well as many other cathedrals and concert venues throughout the country and abroad. He is no stranger to the Royal Albert Hall; in 1997, he conducted the School Choir when they were invited to sing “The Rhythm of Life” at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and he has played the organ at the Festival each year ever since – for the past 16 years. Hugh Edwards mentioned this when introducing Peter at the Festival this year, as well as the fact the Royal Hospital School choir were singing in their Tercentenary year.
Peter has been President of the Suffolk Organist’s Association and he regularly directs the choirs at the Annual National Service for Seafarers in St Pauls Cathedral, conducting amongst other works, anthems commissioned especially for this service by distinguished composers. Peter Crompton has conducted the chapel choir on many tours abroad most notably at St Marks – Venice, Salzburg Cathedral, Barcelona Cathedral, Notre Dame, Monaco Cathedral and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
He has broadcast on BBC radio and television and made several recordings, one of which was recently the critic’s choice in the CD review programme on BBC Radio 3.
A particular satisfying time for Peter was the opening of the new £3.6million Reade Music School by the famous composer John Rutter. Having conducted the choir in the annual carol service, Dr Rutter was “blown away” in particular by their rendition of his beloved “What Sweeter Music”. He subsequently invited the choir to perform three concerts with him and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which took place at the Royal Albert Hall and the Regent Theatre in Ipswich. John Rutter is now the patron of the School Music Society.
In short, Peter Crompton’s contribution to music at the Royal Hospital School has been remarkable. In his own words, “It has been my passion to pass on my love of music and to inspire. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to have an impact on every child that has been to the Royal Hospital School in the past four decades particularly through whole-school congregational practice when the ‘Holbrook Sound’ comes into its own. All I can say is that It’s Been a Ball”
Peter plans to concentrate on his own playing and composing during his well-earned retirement and in recognition of his unstinting dedication to inspiring young people and musical achievement at the Royal Hospital School he leaves with the honorary title of Organist Emeritus.

The Royal Hospital School is a coeducational boarding and day school for 11 to 18 year olds set in 200 acres of Suffolk countryside overlooking the River Stour. For more information or 01473 326210