The sad passing of Martin How

Courtesy of the RSCM:-

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Martin How, long-time RSCM staff member and supporter.

Often referred to as the best Cathedral Organist this country never had, Martin was the son of the ex–Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, he was educated at Repton School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar.

Martin then spent one term as a student at RSCM St Nicolas College in Canterbury before starting his National Service. Martin recalls that he was away at Sedgefield with the army when he was able to get special permission in the summer of 1954 to visit Addington Palace with a view to restarting his studies on completion of National Service. He arrived at Addington in January 1955, and clearly remembers the warm welcome he received, especially from Peter White. By September of the same year, he was invited to become a member of staff, taking over from Hubert Crook as Headquarters’ Choirmaster. He was also organist of St John’s, Selsdon, appointed in January 1958 (with the vicar acting as choirmaster) and then of St Mildred’s in Addiscombe.

Amongst many other initiatives, Martin started the Chorister Training Scheme, launched in December 1965 during the St Nicolastide celebrations. The CTS scheme obviously fulfilled a need, for, within a year, 2000 enquiries were received. The scheme has had a significant impact on musical development of countless young singers; its successor, the Voice for Life scheme, continues to the present day.

Following a period as Organist and Choirmaster at Grimsby Parish Church from the summer of 1961, Martin returned in August 1964 to Addington Palace having been offered the post of Headquarters Commissioner, and then in January 1968, as Headquarters Choirmaster — once again. In September 1970 he was able to resume his duties as Headquarters Commissioner when Colin Yorke was appointed Resident Choirmaster. In 1971 Martin was appointed Commissioner for the South and he retired from this role at the end of August 1992, though continued in the part–time (3 days a week) role as Special Advisor. He had previously moved out of Addington Palace in 1989 into his own flat. His final ‘retirement’ was in April 1994, but he still lived in his South Croydon flat and maintained strong links with Croydon Parish Church.

Following his retirement in 1992, Her Majesty the Queen Mother wrote to congratulate and thank Martin How for his work, and he was made MBE in the 1993 New Year Honours List for his ‘Services to Church Music’.

Martin How, MBE, MA, ARCM, LRAM, FRCO(CHM), LTCL, FGCM, FRSCM: b. 1931, Liverpool. d. 2022, Croydon.