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TRIBUTE TO CYRIL GROVER (article first published : 2004-01-2)

Well-known organist, broadcaster and producer, Cyril Grover, passed away in Durban on December 27 at the age of 62 after a short illness linked to a heart disease.

Educated at the King Edward VI Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent, England, and the Royal College of Music, London, Cyril was also a Graduate of the Royal Schools of Music (London) (GRSM); an associate of both the Royal College of Organists (ARCO) and the Royal College of Music (ARCM) and a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM).

Born in Scotland in 1941, Cyril Russell Grover was the second child to Sheilagh and John Grover. John Grover was a customs officer who held a remote customs post close to the Glenfiddich River which is synonymous with the famous single malt whisky. Cyril grew up in these open spaces and distant hills, often riding with a farmer on his horse while sowing seed by hand. This sense of adventure brought him to Africa in 1964, to settle in Salisbury (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in what was then Rhodesia.

He taught at the Rhodesian College of Music and, after marrying, ran a music centre of 120 students with his wife Jeni. He was Organist of the Salisbury Cathedral and Master of Music with a boys’ and men’s choir which reached a high standard of singing. In addition he conducted the Municipal Orchestra which he honed to excellent amateur standards. He was a freelance compiler and presenter on what is now known at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1979 the Grovers emigrated to South Africa with their children, Alice and Peter. Cyril had been appointed to the SABC to further his second love - broadcasting. Working with the Music Department he became an integral part of South African music broadcasting, handling live broadcasts from Johannesburg and Durban as well as presenting many recorded broadcasts and programmes. St. Thomas' Church, Linden, appointed him as their Music Director where he trained a boys’ and men’s choir before he was transferred to Durban in 1984 where he became Programme Manager of SAfm - a post which he held until his retirement.

Peter Gardner, well-known actor, film casting agent and proprietor of Troubadour Productions costume hire, reminisces about Cyril’s meticulous and professional attitude to his work. “I was in the studio recording a programme on poet Douglas Livingstone’s choice of music for the A Man and His Music series. One of the chosen numbers was contained on a very scratchy 78rpm recording. No problem for Cyril – he got some distilled water, flooded the record, settled the needle and away we went - no audible scratches.”

Cyril was a hard worker and spent many hours at weekends restoring his home in Cowies Hill - he was even drawn into presenting a DIY programme on SABC. One of his hobbies was photography.

He achieved a major wish of becoming Organist and Director of Music of St. Paul's Church in Durban. Over the past ten years, he conducted the choir and was much involved in the rebuilding of the organ. His funeral was held at this church on December 30.

During 2003, Cyril taught Orchestration, Theory3 and gave a seminar on Music Culture and History to second and third year students at the School of Music, University of Natal. He also taught Choral Studies for the new Opera School and Choral Academy (OSCA) on campus and was very enthusiastic at being a member of the staff, albeit on a part time basis. His input at the University in this brief time was greatly appreciated.

Well-known singing teacher and Voice Mistress for OSCA Coleen Philp recalls: “As a national recording artist, I recorded many programmes for SABC with Cyril as producer. I recall that some of the SABC staff affectionately used to term him "squirrel". I remember him being very particular and wanting the highest standards at all times but we still had a few jokes in between the hard work.

“In this past year at the University, I found that Cyril was noticeably more relaxed and in his element passing on his music knowledge to the students. My last memory of him is a few weeks ago joking in the office at the School of Music with one of our secretaries. He really seemed to have a happy time with us and we gained so much from his careful advice and commitment to his teaching. Rest in peace, dear Cyril - you certainly made an impact.”

The contact addresses of Cyril Grover’s children are as follows: Alice Grover on e-mail: algrove12@hotmail.com and Peter Grover on e-mail: p.grover@tiscali.co.uk - Caroline Smart




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