Obituary – Ross Winters
19/4/1951 – 14/2/2021
The recorder world is incredibly saddened to hear of the untimely death of Ross Winters, one of the country’s leading recorder performers and teachers, and an inspiration to generations of players.
Having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year, Ross suffered a bad fall at his home and died in hospital early the next morning. He was just two months short of his 70th birthday.
A hugely respected performer and educator, the foundations of Ross’s life in music were laid by his father, Leslie and at Queen’s College Oxford, as well as by the teaching of Walter Bergmann. Subsequently he studied recorder with Walter van Hauwe at the Amsterdam Conservatorium, where he was also inspired by the pioneering work in early music and recordings of Frans Brüggen, Gustav Leonhardt and Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
On returning to the UK in 1975, he began teaching at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music, marking the start of a distinguished teaching career which led him to work in schools, adult education, privately and as professor of recorder at the Royal College of Music and head of recorder at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He retired from the latter in 2012.
Throughout his career, Ross performed extensively as a recitalist of early and contemporary repertoire, including concerts at the Wigmore Hall and London’s South Bank. He recorded regularly for BBC Radio 3 and also released two CD albums of English twentieth-century recorder music including works from the Dolmetsch archive, which helped to re-awaken interest in this repertoire, and music composed especially for him by Alan Bush and Elis Pehkonen. In 2017, Ross played Bach and Telemann concertos with The Academy of Ancient Music.
Professionally, Ross was highly respected amongst the recorder community, being involved with the SRP as a Musical Advisor, and on the committee of ERTA (UK). He was an examiner for both the ABRSM and Trinity College and taught on all the National Youth Recorder Orchestra summer courses since their inception in 2002 until 2011, conducting its advanced group, Blockwork.
After retiring to Kent, Ross was greatly appreciated as the director of local musical groups including Folkestone Baroque Choir and Folkestone Adult Recorder Group, as well as performing with his instrumental group, Folkestone Baroque.
Generations of students and colleagues remember his quiet manner, gentle sense of humour and the way he encouraged and supported them, both musically and in their wider lives. He will be very sorely missed.
Ross Winters was a visiting conductor for some time. He was appointed as a Musical Adviser to the Society of Recorder Players at the 2012 Conference and “rotated” onto the committee in 2015. He was an SRP Visiting Conductor from 2015 through to the pandemic.