(2nd July 1928 – 9th April 2020)
MCS was informed of the sad passing of OW Roger Firkins in May 2020. Below is the piece in The King’s School, Ely, magazine on Roger Firkin’s retirement.
“This term marks the end of Roger Firkins’ long and varied career on the teaching staff of The King’s School.
We think of his first as an accomplished musician – singer, conductor and violinist- who has not let these talents idle but who, by his example and enthusiasm, has encouraged the development of music making in so many of his pupils both in the senior school and the junior school.
Again, we think of him as a friend, one with whom a joke, or a grumble, could e shared; and one who has always been in tune with the lighter side of life.
And yet again as a teacher, a professional who taught with sympathy for his subjects – French, Music, English – a founder of the school Madrigal Society and as a Director of Music who set his department firmly on its feet in the 60s in both sections of the school.
Roger’s first appearance on the world musical scene was the Coronation of King George VI in Westminster Abbey in 1937 when, with the exception of the Princess Margaret, he was the youngest person present, being at that time a very new member of the Abbey choir. At the outbreak of war the young Firkins found himself evacuated to Christ’s Hospital at Horsham whence he proceeded in 1941 to the choir of Magdalen College Oxford, the Westminster Choir having been disbanded.
He sang in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge from 1946 to 1950 and on leaving the University joined the staff of Colet Court, the prep school for St Pauls. After two years he moved to Ipswich School for a further four years until in 1956 he was invited by Michael Howard, the organist and choirmaster, to join the school of Ely Cathedral, at the same time taking a French and English post at The King’s School, where he stayed for 32 years, becoming Master of the Junior School in 1981.
In 1960 Roger founded the King’s School Madrigal Society which drew its sopranos and some altos from the Ely High School for Girls. They met every Saturday evening at 38 Cambridge Road, along with the tenors and basses from the King’s School. In the course of time they became a successful and widely respected choir whose annual concerts were enjoyed by many. Two of its members, Nigel Perrin and “Bill” Ives went on to Cambridge and founded their own close harmony group, the King’s Singers”