In Tribute: Ronald Frost 1933 – 2015

The College was saddened to hear about the recent death of Ronald Frost, former Organ Tutor at the RMCM and RNCM, on Thursday 1 October. For many years Ronald was organist at St Ann’s Church in Manchester, presenting over 1000 recitals between 1978 and 2015. Here, St Ann’s current organist and RNCM alumnus, Simon Passmore shares his tribute:

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Ronald Frost was born in Bury on 30 March 1933 and educated at Bury Grammar School and the Royal Manchester College of Music, now the RNCM. A lifelong supporter of Bury Football Club he was particularly happy with their recent promotion.

The list of Ronald’s musical qualifications and awards is extensive and impressive and reflects his lifelong dedication to music. He was also awarded an Hon FGCM in recognition of his services to Church Music and FRSCM at York Minster in recognition of his services to musical education, choral training and church music. Recently installed as Honorary Lay Canon of Manchester Cathedral in recognition of his musical contribution to the diocese Ronald was made Canon Emeritus in 2012.

Ronald was associated with the Hallé from 1956 to 1996.  He was accompanist to the Hallé Choir from 1956 – 1972 and appointed Chorus Master in 1972, a post which he held for 20 years. He was also principal organist for the Hallé from 1974 – 1996. Throughout his life he worked with some of the world’s most eminent conductors and soloists.

In 2001 Ronald finally retired from the RNCM, where he had studied and taught for over 50 years, his most recent post being Principal Lecturer in Organ. He was also Director of Music at St. Ann’s Church in Manchester, a position he held from 1978 until 2015, and where he gave well over 1000 recitals.  On 30th May this year he and his wife Barbara were the guests of honour at St Ann’s, as a packed church enjoyed an evening In Celebration of a Heart in Music – a service of thanksgiving and celebratory concert for Ronald.

Music was Ronald’s life.  As a distinguished organist he worked regularly on radio and TV in addition to his work at the RNCM, with the Hallé, St Ann’s and other churches, as accompanist for other local choirs and organ tutor to countless young musicians, many of them now distinguished organists and pianists in their own right.  He was also an extremely accomplished composer and made several recordings of organ music on the Dunelm Records label.

Ronald was meticulous and unparalleled in his preparation of singers for concerts and services. His attention to detail was immaculate and his ability to communicate choral technique to choirs has benefitted many hundreds of singers over the decades.

However, alongside the serious attention he paid to musical tuition, rehearsal and performance, he had a gentle and sometimes wicked sense of humour. Those of us privileged to have been members of Ronald’s choirs or his organ students will never forget some of his famous ‘sayings’, a combination of his deliberate and accidental humour.

Throughout his life Ronald remained a very modest, loyal and unassuming man, respected and loved by all who knew, studied and worked with him. Ronald was a very special person, a lovely human being and will be a terrible loss to the world of music. We will miss him very much and send our thoughts and deepest sympathy to his wife Barbara.

29 October 2015