Dr Simon Lindley writes:
AFTER education in his home city of Birmingham, and the organ
scholarship of Keble College, Oxford, Anthony Cooke, organist,
choirmaster, and schoolmaster, made his home in Leeds. He was for a
quarter of a century the respected director of music at Leeds
Grammar School (LGS). He died on 6 October.
Significant among formative influences on Cooke's life and
career were Dr Willis Grant of Birmingham Cathedral and Sir Thomas
Armstrong, Organist of Christ Church, Oxford, and later Principal
of the Royal Academy of Music.
Cooke's early posts had taken him to Highgate School, and from
there back to the Midlands as Organist and Choirmaster of Edgbaston
Old Church (St Bartholomew's), and Music Master at Aston Grammar
School. The move to Yorkshire came in 1964.
The Chapel Choir at LGS in those days sang choral services on
Sundays, as well as the early-morning assemblies then held daily.
Under Cooke's direction, the Binns organ in the chapel was restored
by Wood, Wordsworth, and became widely regarded as one of the
finest such instruments in the north of England. When the number of
weekend choral services was reduced, Cooke took the chapel choir
out to the parish churches and cathedrals in the locality, and
undertook significant choral outreach in so doing. At least eight
LGS sixth-formers achieved university organ scholarships under
Cooke's guidance. Other prominent members of the musical profession
to emerge from the school during his tenure included the
international countertenor Robin Blaze.
Cooke's playing was a feature of trail-blazing LPs made in the
late 1960s by the Choir of Leeds Parish Church under Donald Hunt's
inspiring training. Cooke can still today be heard on a Christmas
recording with Huddersfield Choral Society and the Black Dyke Band
- two world-famous West Riding ensembles; on this disc, now
re-mastered as a best selling CD, the much-loved Bradford Cathedral
Organist of the day, Keith Rhodes, directs the world-renowned
Huddersfield choir with Cooke accompanying on the organ.
Cooke was for many years organ adviser to the diocese of Ripon,
and served for a period in retirement as organist of the parish
church of Pool-in-Wharfedale. Other institutions supported by him
were Leeds Parish Church, where he was for four decades a valued
trustee of its Friends of the Music organisation, Leeds Organists'
Association, and the Royal School of Church Music. Cooke was a
great lover of the liturgy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and
the Authorised Version of the Bible.
He was nationally and internationally known as the highly
regarded Secretary and Treasurer of the Benevolent Fund of the
Incorporated Association of Organists, a position held with much
devotion for some 30 years. Additionally, he was for a long period
Console Steward of choice at the practical examinations of the
Royal College of Organists, held in St Paul's Hall at the
University of Huddersfield.
He was a generous giver of money and time to many causes. The
recently installed Kenneth Tickell instrument in Keble Chapel was a
project supported by Cooke as a substantial donor to his old