Royal College of Organists

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File:Royal College of Organists, former headquarters in Kensingon Gore, London.jpg
The building in Kensington, London, which housed the Royal College of Organists from 1903-1991

The Royal College of Organists or RCO, is an organisation based in the United Kingdom, but with members around the world. Its job is to support organ playing and choral music. People who learn the organ can go there to take professional organ examinations.

There is a large library with more than 60,000 books about organ playing and organ music.

When the RCO started in 1864 by Richard Limpus it was called the College of Organists. It was given a Royal Charter in 1893. In 1903 it was offered an extremely cheap 99-year lease on a beautiful building in Kensington, West London. The college was there until 1991 when it moved to a church in the City of London. In 2003 it moved again to Birmingham.


The RCO offers five qualifications or diplomas.

  • The Certificate (CertRCO) is a qualification for people who are good organists, but not necessarily at a professional level.
  • The Associateship Diploma (ARCO) is a professional qualification. The candidate has to play the organ very well and do a music theory examination.
  • The Fellowship Diploma (FRCO) is for people who already have ARCO. It is harder than ARCO.
  • The Choral Directing Diploma (Dip CHD) is for showing good choral conducting.
  • The Licentiateship in Teaching (LTRCO) is a professional qualification for organ teachers who already have either the ARCO or FRCO.

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