Welcome, Guest. Please Login
YaBB - Yet another Bulletin Board
  To join this Forum send an email with this exact subject line REQUEST MEMBERSHIP to bbcstaff@gmx.com telling us your connection with the BBC.
  HomeHelpSearchLogin  
 
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print
Cormac Rigby (Read 21339 times)
Administrator
YaBB Administrator
*****
Offline



Posts: 3243

Cormac Rigby
Mar 28th, 2007, 7:32pm
 
This is taken from the Daily Telegraph:

The Reverend Cormac Rigby
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 28/03/2007


The Reverend Cormac Rigby, who died yesterday aged 67, was the original voice of Radio 3, the BBC's classical music network, and - as presentation editor for 14 years - the station's single most influential on-air figure; he later fulfilled a lifelong Christian faith by becoming a Roman Catholic priest.

It was said that Rigby patented the Radio 3 voice: civilised, measured, knowledgeable, unflappable. As presentation editor, he was also chief announcer, in charge of a team of about a dozen announcers, a term he preferred to "presenter": he disliked the cult of personality, which he regarded as an intrusion on the listener, and insisted that the programmes themselves - and not the people who introduced them - were paramount.

With Radio 3 having replaced the icily highbrow Third Programme in 1970, Rigby saw it as his job to "melt the tone" (as he put it) of the old formal style to "something more one-to-one". Nonetheless he insisted on attention to detail. To police standards on the network he would drive to Broadcasting House from his flat in Oxford listening to the previous day's continuity announcements on "snoop tapes", cassettes specially recorded for the purpose and which he stored for the rest of his life on his bedroom shelf.
advertisement

On arrival at the office Rigby would point out semantic or syntactic slips to offenders by dispatching small squares of paper on which he had written in his elegant sloping hand. He argued frequently with the BBC's then music controller, Robert Ponsonby, about pronunciation of such words as "opus" and "homosexual". Rigby's own presentation style was described by one admirer as "gentle and velvety-brown".

Although a stickler for standards, Rigby was professional enough to recognise that in radio, as in life, not everything always goes to plan. His favourite example of Radio 3's donnish wit was when the Hebrides Overture overran and crashed into the Greenwich time signal. With Olympian self-possession, the announcer, Tom Crowe, opened the microphone and apologised: "I do hope the Mendelssohn didn't interfere with your enjoyment of the pips."

In 1989 Father Cormac, as he had become, was the celebrant at a requiem mass in Westminster Cathedral for the composer Sir Lennox Berkeley. When the BBC asked him to introduce a recording of the service, Rigby pointed out that he could not do so because he was in it. Reassured that no one listening would realise this, Rigby stood in the vestry, clad in ritual vestments surmounted by a pair of headphones, setting the scene in which he would later play a central part.

A love of ballet was central to Rigby's existence - he found that the physical beauty of the dance resonated with the beauty of God's creation - and he admitted to being an obsessive balletomane. For the whole of his adult life he witnessed a performance of every ballet staged in London and Birmingham, sometimes attending five nights a week. He was also a serial theatregoer, and confessed himself overwhelmed by Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, which he saw 17 times.

Cormac John Rigby was born on May 5 1939 at Watford, and educated at Holy Rood RC primary school, Watford, and Merchant Taylors' school, Northwood. He read History at St John's College, Oxford, and spent a year at the English College in Rome. Finding the regime constricting, and upbraided by the rector for taking out a subscription to the Times Educational Supplement, Rigby returned to Oxford to work on a doctorate on Edward Thring, the Victorian preacher and headmaster of Uppingham for whom Rigby entertained a lifelong admiration.

In 1965, when his university grant expired, Rigby needed funds to allow him to complete his thesis. Leafing through the New Musical Express, he spotted two advertisements side by side, one seeking a disc-jockey for Radio Caroline and the other recruiting new BBC radio announcers. Rigby recalled that Tony Blackburn and he landed the respective jobs - "we're broadcasting twins", he later noted, not without pride.

Rigby's first night on the Third Programme, as it then was, was typical of the funereal pace still called for in the mid-1960s. "I had to leave a full minute of silence between one programme and the next," Rigby recalled. "The idea was to discourage people from casual listening. They were expected to look at their Radio Times, choose what they want, listen to it, and then go away and do all the other interesting things that their lives were full of."

He remained at the BBC for 20 years. After several years as an announcer, interrupted by a brief spell as a Radio 3 planner in 1968, Rigby became the network's presentation editor in 1971. His extraordinarily mellifluous voice had been evident at his audition, but only experience revealed his level-headedness in a crisis: when Pope John Paul II was shot in Rome in 1981, the duty Radio 3 announcer found himself stuck in the lift, and Rigby was obliged to start reading the news still breathless from the sprint from his office.

He considered that good radio continuity came from a well-stocked mind, and one that could fill spare minutes on the air in an interesting way.

Resigning from the BBC in 1985 to seek ordination at the age of 46 (he left on September 14, St Cormac's Day), Rigby's early ministry included postings to Ruislip and Stanmore as curate and later parish priest.

As in his broadcasting work, Rigby took his priestly responsibilities at Stanmore extremely seriously, particularly when dealing with bereaved families, whom he always made a point of visiting at home in order to prepare for a funeral. Intolerant of other people's laxity, he believed that modern seminaries were producing many priests inadequately prepared for the ministry, and was particularly critical of what he regarded as laziness in some of his fellow priests, a malaise he felt affected the Catholic Church in Britain.

However, he greatly admired the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, who ordained him as a priest in 1989. Another hero was Pope Benedict XVI, whom he regarded as a formidable figure; but Rigby privately opposed the British cardinals' intervention over gay adoption, and felt that the Church had misjudged the issue by picking a fight it was never going to win.

Rigby's Catholicism was never partisan, and he was concerned that the Church's Catholicity should not alienate people; fussy liturgists irritated him as much as bossy lay people, fresh from theological courses, who thought they knew better than anyone else. He could also be grumpy about people who fell down on the job: although he admired the present Radio 3 regime, he remained impatient of idle chatter between items of music, and on hearing lazy pronunciation would telephone the BBC from his presbytery to complain.

Owning neither television nor computer, Rigby filled his retirement by listening to the radio - mainly Radio 4 - and cultivating his enormous network of friends; last Christmas he sent more than 1,000 cards, excusing this prolific gesture by explaining that it would, after all, be his last.

During the last four years of his retirement - knowing that his prostate cancer was incurable - Rigby rekindled his ministry by publishing four volumes of his short sermons and writing a weekly column for the Catholic Herald.

Conspicuously relaxed about his illness, he refused to be frightened by it. Every day since going up to Oxford in the mid-1950s, Cormac Rigby had attended or celebrated Mass. A sister survives him.
Back to top
 

The Administrator.
 
IP Logged
 
Administrator
YaBB Administrator
*****
Offline



Posts: 3243

Re: Cormac Rigby
Reply #1 - Mar 31st, 2007, 8:25am
 
This is taken from The Times, March 31, 2007:

The Rev Cormac Rigby
Broadcaster who spent 20 years as the voice of Radio 3 before finding his vocation in the Roman Catholic priesthood


Cormac Rigby enjoyed two careers, one notably conspicuous in radio and another more modest in the Church. He may not have realised what joy he had brought into the lives of others day after day by the intensely concerned and generous way he carried out his duties. And his lifelong involvement with ballet and theatre was so extensive as to amount more or less to a third career.

Cormac John Rigby was born in Watford in 1939. His father died when he was still young, but he greatly relished the love and support of his Irish-born mother. He was educated first locally, then at Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, and St John’s College, Oxford, where he read history. At Oxford he began the practice of attending Mass every day (famously, when working at the BBC he kept in his desk a list of times of Mass in Central London so he could always get to one between his on-air commitments).

Feeling a call to the priesthood after taking his first degree, he attended the English seminary in Rome but left after a year because he found attitudes too restrictive; “the wrong place at the wrong time” was his later comment. Back in Oxford he took a doctorate, writing his thesis on the Victorian preacher and headmaster of Uppingham, Edward Thring, who taught that God has scattered little pleasures in everybody’s reach.

It was from his closest friend at university, John Eccles, that Rigby acquired his own great and abiding pleasure, a love of ballet. He found the physical beauty of that art a fine expression of the beauty of the Creation as a whole.

Completing his doctorate, Rigby answered an advertisement by the BBC seeking announcers. He was immediately accepted: no surprise given his beautiful speaking voice. But it was his intellect that took him to the top as presentation editor and chief announcer. He was there when Radio 3 replaced the rigid, rather icy Third Programme, and he was responsible for setting the more audience-friendly tone of the new service. But he always insisted on correct pronunciation of the names of foreign musicians.

He stood up for whatever he believed in. When Wagner’s Mastersingers was to be broadcast he managed to secure the Sadler’s Wells Opera’s performance in English, conducted by Reginald Goodall, rather than Solti’s in German from Covent Garden, because he knew it would bring wider pleasure.

His love of ballet was exhibited by the concert series Royal Repertoire which he devised and introduced, exploring works given by the two Royal Ballet companies.

He spent 20 years at the BBC, 1965-85, before deciding that Dr Rigby must after all become Father Cormac, resigning for this purpose on St Cormac’s Day, September 14. His ordination as a priest came on May 21, 1988, 49 years to the day after his baptism. A most remarkable congregation attended, bringing together large groups from the Camden Town parish where he had trained, from the BBC and from the world of ballet. Particularly touching was that Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, himself conducted the service and said: “You know, Cormac, that God really wanted you, since He was prepared to wait so long.”

Father Cormac now became curate at Ruislip, and then parish priest at Stanmore. He loved his work and his parishioners, making sure to spend time with all those in need — but always alert for the tactful indication that he was staying too long: “We won’t keep you, Father, you must have a thousand things to do.”

He sadly felt obliged to leave his parish when told in 2002 that his illness might incapacitate him at any time, but in what others might have thought retirement, he made time to publish four highly popular volumes of sermons, praised for their clarity and perception, and to write a weekly column for the Catholic Herald.

One of his outstanding gifts was — by his constantly interested, warm and generous manner — for convincing every friend and acquaintance that they meant something special to him. And the words “God bless” with which he ended every conversation or written message were not just a figure of speech but a sincere prayer which could hearten even an unbeliever.

He had long written about dance, too, adopting the pseudonym John Cowan when he began contributing to the magazine Dance & Dancers; he even stood in once or twice as critic for The Times. During seasons by his favourite company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, where he had made many friends, he went night after night (and he had tickets to see them at his local theatre in Oxford on the day he died).

He would also go repeatedly to plays that he liked, and was fond of inviting friends to accompany him. David Bintley, director of BRB, says that being taken in this way to see Marlow’s Edward II inspired his successful ballet on that subject. He later, in gratitude for helpful discussions when preparing his Beauty and the Beast, dedicated that ballet to Cormac Rigby, who learnt this, with delight, only on opening his programme at the premiere.

Father Cormac remained active almost until the end. He is survived by his sister, Deirdre, and her son.

The Rev Cormac Rigby, broadcaster, priest and ballet lover, was born on May 5, 1939. He died of cancer on March 27, 2007, aged 67
Back to top
 

The Administrator.
 
IP Logged
 
Administrator
YaBB Administrator
*****
Offline



Posts: 3243

Re: Cormac Rigby
Reply #2 - Mar 31st, 2007, 8:29am
 
This is taken from The Guardian:

The Rev Cormac Rigby
Cultivated broadcaster who revived his desire to join the priesthood
by Robert Ponsonby
Thursday March 29, 2007


Cormac Rigby, who has died aged 67 of cancer, had two distinct careers: as a BBC radio announcer, and later as a Roman Catholic priest. Both called for an easy mastery of the spoken word, and to both he brought a naturally cultivated talent.

As presentation editor of Radio 3 from 1972 to 1985, Cormac set the tone of the channel, supervising the work of established announcers such as Patricia Hughes and Tom Crowe, engaging younger ones (among them Tony Scotland) and himself taking a full share of the announcing and presenting load. After leaving the BBC in 1985, he trained for the priesthood, served first in Ruislip, Middlesex, and then in Stanmore, north London, where he was specially happy and very well liked.

He was born in Watford, Hertfordshire; his mother had been born Grace McCormack, and his first name was a conscious recollection of her Irish maiden name. Baptised on May 21 1939, he was to be ordained on the very same day, 49 years later, by Cardinal Basil Hume in Westminster Cathedral. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' school, Northwood, Middlesex, and read history at St John's College, Oxford.

But the church beckoned, and in 1961 he went to the English College, in Rome, to train for the priesthood. There, however, he found the regime unacceptably narrow-minded, and returned to Oxford to complete a doctoral thesis on Edward Thring, the 19th-century preacher and headmaster of Uppingham. In 1965, he he became an all-purpose announcer at the BBC, working for the Home Service and the Music Programme, which then preceded the evening Third Programme.

In due course he was permitted to announce for the Third Programme, and by 1968 Cormac was also engaged as a planner for that network. Here, he first tasted blood when an internal conflict arose over the relative artistic and financial merits of Solti's Die Meistersinger, from Covent Garden, and Goodall's The Mastersingers, from the Coliseum. Cormac's championship of the latter won the day and he confessed himself "jubilant".

In 1969 the BBC published Broadcasting in the Seventies, a document that heralded the "dumbing-down" of the Third Programme. Early the following year, 134 BBC staff members - all in breach of their contract - signed a letter of protest to the Times, and Cormac's name was, characteristically, among them. In 1972, he was nevertheless appointed presentation editor of Radio 3, where his regime was distinguished.

Cormac expected his colleagues to be cultivated personalities, at ease with musical terminology and correct pronunciation in whatever language was called for. He asked that their delivery be measured and accurately stressed. And he set an admirably urbane example. He was also fiercely loyal to his staff and, as I discovered during the musicians' strike over the BBC plans, eventually dropped, to disband five orchestras in 1980, heart-warmingly supportive of those in conflict with the Philistine tendency. In 1985, he introduced his last Last Night of the Proms for television, on which he was seen regularly, then left the BBC and began, for the second time, to train as a priest.

Apart from his faith and his skills as a broadcaster, Cormac had a passion for ballet, in which he was knowledgable and discriminating. During the 1970s he devised and presented a Radio 3 programme, Royal Repertoire, which complemented the current programmes of the Royal Ballet. He also wrote for Dance and Dancers, using the pen-name John Cowan. Even after his ordination he contributed to Dance Now, and he was always glad, a friend remarked, "to get his dog collar off and go to the ballet".

In three attractive books of sermons, The Lord Be With You (2003), Lift Up Your Hearts (2004) and Let Us Give Thanks (2005), he related without self-pity how his prostate cancer had spread and he felt obliged to give up his Stanmore parish. During a longer-than-expected remission, he went to Ireland and enjoyed "the most beautiful reprise of some of my happiest journeys up and down the Irish fjords". He was in every sense a good man.

· Cormac John Rigby, broadcaster and priest, born May 5 1939; died March 27 2007
Back to top
 

The Administrator.
 
IP Logged
 
Administrator
YaBB Administrator
*****
Offline



Posts: 3243

Re: Cormac Rigby
Reply #3 - May 3rd, 2007, 8:45am
 
This is taken from the Independent:

Fr Cormac Rigby
Radio 3 announcer and priest
Published: 03 May 2007


Cormac Rigby, broadcaster and priest: born Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire 5 May 1939; ordained priest 1988; died Oxford 27 March 2007.

Cormac Rigby was one of the most fondly remembered voices of Radio 3, serving for 14 years as chief announcer and head of presentation. After his departure from the BBC, he enjoyed a second career in the Roman Catholic Church and as well as being a popular parish priest gained a reputation as one of the finest preachers in Britain.

Born in Rickmansworth, near Watford, in 1939, he was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood, and St John's College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. On graduating in 1961, he went to the English College at Rome to study for the priesthood, but chafed at a restrictive regime - the last straw was being told off for subscribing to the Times Educational Supplement. Rigby left after a year, "in floods of tears," he later recalled, "feeling that I had turned my back on the one thing that really mattered". Back at Oxford, he began a doctoral thesis on the Victorian headmaster and preacher Edward Thring.

In 1965, he answered an advert in the NME and landed a job as an all-purpose radio announcer at the BBC. He was soon announcing regularly on the Third Programme. In 1970, the Third was replaced by Radio 3, and the following year Rigby was appointed the new network's first head of presentation. At that time (as, indeed, ever since), Radio 3 was anxious about a reputation for stuffiness and Rigby was charged with "melting" the announcers into something "one-to-one" - which is what, he felt, radio should always be. The years under him, when Radio 3 was staffed by announcers such as Tom Crowe, Patricia Hughes, Tony Scotland and John Holmstrom, are still regularly invoked as a golden age in which introductions to classical music were informed by intelligence, erudition and, most importantly, sympathy to the needs of the music.

The announcer Donald Macleod, who was recruited by Rigby and himself later became head of presentation, recalls that after his first microphone test Rigby told him "You need to develop a sense of silence": he was rigorous in insisting on a generous pause after a piece had finished.

Rigby himself had an impeccably relaxed, gentle delivery - no announcer ever sounded less effortful. He told how, on his first evening announcing for the Third, a scheduled live relay of Berg's Wozzeck from the Edinburgh Festival was suddenly cancelled; having got through an entirely blank evening, he never worried about things going wrong again. The calm extended to his administrative duties: in any confrontation, he would mildly agree to reflect overnight, allowing tempers to simmer down before offering his views. Relaxation did not mean any lapse from perfectionism, though: Macleod says "There was always something to be aspired to."

He left the BBC on 14 September 1985 - St Cormac's Day - after presenting the Last Night of the Proms, to study again for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1988, and worked as a curate and then parish priest in Ruislip and later Stanmore. He retired in 2002, having been told that prostate cancer would allow him only a few months more; as things turned out, he was able to develop a new career as a Catholic commentator, writing a weekly column in The Catholic Herald and publishing four books of sermons. In the Church, as on the radio, he was a perfectionist, lamenting what he regarded as lax standards in performance of the liturgy and in preaching; as he said to an interviewer,

If what you hear from the pulpit is muddle, confusion and waffle, then the Church is failing in its professional duty. And that is uncharitable, because people have given up their time to listen.

He was a passionate reader, telling Donald Macleod that his proudest achievement was being a footnote in an edition of the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. His other great love was ballet, which he reviewed for Dance and Dancers under the pen-name John Cowan. One of his innovations at Radio 3 was a record programme entitled Royal Repertoire, in which he introduced pieces associated with the Royal Ballet. For years, he saw every single production in London and Birmingham. His passion made him friends in the dance world; the choreographer David Bintley dedicated his ballet Beauty and the Beast to Rigby; and the day before Rigby's funeral, the Royal Ballet dedicated a performance of Mayerling to his memory.

In retirement, he settled in Oxford. In addition to his writing, and saying mass when needed, he continued to read, listen to the radio - no television - and attend the theatre and ballet regularly; and he kept in touch with an unusually wide circle of friends.

Illness did not keep him from being happy. He maintained that death had held no fears for him since his greatest friend, John Eccles, was killed in a car crash in 1964.

Robert Hanks
Back to top
 

The Administrator.
 
IP Logged
 
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print