Oldest OH dies Dr. Lindsay A. Lafford (OH 1922-29)
05/04/2014
1912 – 2014

Lindsay Arthur Lafford, aged 101 years and 5 months, passed peacefully the morning of April 5th, 2014 after a brief illness.

He was at his home of the last 20 years, Friendship Village of Tempe, Arizona and was surrounded by his family. Until his illness, he was playing organ for Sunday services, arranging pieces for the brass and piano trio in which he played, and preparing compositions for performance and publication.

Dr. Lindsay Arthur Lafford,

Professor Emeritus, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

L.H.D., F.R.C.O.(CHM), F.T.C.L., F.A.G.O.,

L.R.A.M., A.R.C.M., M.R.S.T., A.S.C.A.P. *

Lindsay Lafford was born in Gloucester, England in 1912. He received his early musical education in Hereford, first as a chorister in the cathedral choir and then, having been awarded the Sinclair Scholarship, as an articled pupil and assistant of Sir Percy Hull, the cathedral organist. Later study was at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in Passau, Bavaria, and Darmstadt, Germany, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas, and the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.

In 1935 Lafford received an appointment as Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. John's Cathedral, Hong Kong.

While in the Crown Colony he taught at the Diocesan Boys School, St. Paul's Girls College, and Central British School. For the four years he was in Hong Kong he conducted the Hong Kong Singers (a large European choral group), the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, and the Chinese Choral Society. He was the music member of the government-run Hong Kong Broadcasting Committee (ZBW), the conductor of the Radio Studio Orchestra, and the pianist of the radio's Chamber Music Ensemble. With the Hong Kong Singers and the Philharmonic he gave the Far East premières of several major works, including Dyson's "The Canterbury Pilgrims" and "In Honour of the City" Elgar's "Coronation Ode," and Constant Lambert's "Rio Grande".

On a holiday jaunt to French Indo-China he met his future wife Anna Pohl who, herself, was vacationing from her job as a translator for a German industrial outpost in Shanghai, China. They were later married in England just before war broke out in Europe.

In 1939 Lafford came to the U.S. to teach at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, serving also as University Organist at Princeton. During World War II service in the U.S. Navy he was for a time, director of music for The Navy Goes to Church, a program broadcast weekly over New York's WOR radio station. On his discharge from the Navy in 1945 (appropriately, on November 11th) Lafford taught at Middlebury College, Vermont, and Washington University, St. Louis. Then, in 1948, he accepted the position of Professor of Music and the Department Chairman at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, where he remained until 1979. During a sabbatical year, 1961-62, he served as organist at St. John's Cathedral, Jacksonville, Florida, and as director of the St. John's Opera Company and the Diocesan Choral Society. On his retirement from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1979, when he was voted Professor Emeritus, Lafford received an appointment to St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Coral Gables, Florida, as music director and organist where he remained for 15 years. This comprised his first "retirement". While in South Florida he served as guest conductor of the Coral Gables, Florida, Civic Opera and Symphony Society on numerous occasions. He was also associated with the University of Miami, both as campus carillonneur and later as administrator of the Anne Pohl Lafford Language Laboratory, named in honor of his wife for her contributions to the lab over her eight-year tenure as its director until her death in 1988.

In 1994 he retired again and moved to Tempe, Arizona where he devoted even more attention to composition. He makes annual pilgrimages to Europe where he rents a car to motor around visiting friends and relatives in England and Germany and attend performances of his works. For the last ten years, he has engaged in a charming tradition usually sometime around Easter, driving cross-country to St. James' Episcopal Church in Montross, Virginia. There, he offers his services as a guest conductor of the Festival Choir while accepting the generous hospitality of the local residents, his old friends and new.

Lafford has given organ recitals in England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, the Caribbean, Canada, and throughout the U.S. He has served as guest organist for the National Choir of the Cayman Islands on several occasions. As a pianist he specialized in chamber music and accompanying, touring with such ensembles as The Hong Kong Trio (with Prue Lewis, violin, and Ettore Pellegatti, cello), The English Duo (Viola Morris, soprano, and Victoria Anderson, alto), the Calingaert-Lafford Piano Duo, and the Berta-Lafford Duo (clarinet and piano).

He has conducted the world or U.S. premières of a number of important compositions by British composers, including Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, George Dyson, Gordon Jacob, Harold Darke. In August, 1993, he was invited to conduct the Hong Kong Sinfonietta in a performance of his In Memoriam, written in memory of those who fell in the World War II defense of the colony. The concert was part of a festival commemorating the colony's liberation.

Lafford's circa 300 compositions include a Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, a Sinfonia Miniatura, two Organ Sonatas (one of them an international first prize winner), a flute sonata, a clarinet sonata, several chamber pieces; major choral works include A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, A Cantata of Psalms, a Requiem, A Psalm of Praise, The Seven Last Words, settings of the canticles, etc. Several have won international competitions. At the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik at Darmstadt, Germany, in 1972 his "Orgelprobe I" was hailed as "eine denwürdige Aufführung" -- "a memorable performance."

* Lafford holds the following diplomas:

L.H.D. — Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, 1987, Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

F.R.C.O.(CHM) — Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, with the added diploma: Choir Master.

F.T.C.L. — Fellow of Trinity College, London.

F.A.G.O. — Fellow of the American Guild of Organists, ad eundem.

L.R.A.M. — Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (Piano Accompanying).

A.R.C.M. — Associate of the Royal College of Music (Organ).

M.R.S.T. — He is an elected member of the Royal Society of Teachers and of

A.S.C.A.P. — the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
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