Lindsay A. J. Lafford P'65, P'75, L.H.D. '87
Professor of Music
Friday, September 22, 2000
Lindsay Arthur James Lafford, only child of Arthur James Lafford and Julia Elizabeth Jones Lafford was born on October 27, 1912 in Gloucester, England. In 1915, the family relocated to Hereford, where Lindsay enrolled at age eight in the Anglican Cathedral School, on a choristers’ full scholarship.
Following graduation in the spring of 1929, he became the “Articled Pupil” of the Hereford Cathedral Organist, Sir Percy Hull. Studies included musical analysis, forms, styles, compositional devices, organ literature, and performance and conducting. These skills were accredited by an extensive examination process in London, yielding an array of diplomas.
In the spring of 1935, Lafford was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong. Additional duties included Conductor of the Hong Kong Singers, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Society, the Chinese Choral Society, the Hong Kong Broadcasting System’s chamber orchestra as well as secondary school teaching stints. In 1938 he met one Anne Pohl; in early 1939 he crossed the Pacific for interviews in the Philadelphia area and a return to England where he married Phol in June.
Lafford then returned to Pennsylvania, where he taught at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, and for 1939-40 served as University Organist and Director of Music in the Chapel at Princeton. In 1943 Lindsay was drafted into the Navy, and in 1945, after a stint at Middlebury College he was off to St. Louis. There, Lafford directed the Washington University chorus and orchestra, and was organist of 2nd Presbyterian Church.
In 1948 the Laffords arrived in Geneva, where Lafford transformed music on campus and there the Colleges music major took shape under his watch. The Schola Cantorum came to know the Beethoven Ninth Symphony; Mozart, Brahms and Faure’s Requiems; Handel’s Messiah and Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day; Haydn’s Creation and Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise.
Professor Lafford led many U.S. or world premieres of works by leading British composers, including Gustav Holst, Harold Darke, Sir George Dyson, and Gordon Jacob. He organized spring tours for Schola throughout the eastern U.S. For years there were popular Christmas programs by Schola at Trinity Episcopal Church. Professor Lafford retired in 1979 after 31 years of teaching and leading the Chapel/Motet Choir, 21 years as chair of the Music Department, and 20 years leading Schola Cantorum. In that September, the Colleges’ Alumni and Alumnae Associations awarded their Citation to this distinguished teacher.
In retirement, the Laffords moved to Florida. Lafford spent 15 years as Organist/Choir Director at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Coral Gables and as active composer and performer in the region. In June of 1987, the Colleges awarded him the degree Doctor of Humane Letters. Having served as Anne’s volunteer colleague during her eight years at the University of Miami language lab, Lafford held the title Director of the Anne E. Lafford Language Laboratory as well as that of University Carillonneur.
In September, 1994, Lafford moved to Tempe, Arizona, home of his son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Bobbie Lafford. He has written works on commission for British and German groups and continues to participate in and attend performances of his music around the world.