Eric Rycroft has enjoyed a remarkable career as a performer (professional soloist, recording artist, principal orchestral player and chamber music artist), teacher and conductor. He was a senior member of staff at the Conservatoire, University of Stellenbosch for 30 years, half that time as an Associate Professor. In 1995 he was also appointed principal Conductor and Music Director of the National Chamber Orchestra.
He studied at the University of Cape Town and at the Royal College of Music, London. He also received lessons from Dorothy Delay, Yehudi Menuhin and Lionel Tertis. He has performed in the United States , Canada , Europe, Britain and South Africa . During his London years, he performed with numerous orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, the Jeunesse Musicales World Orchestra, the London Chamber Soloists and the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, the last two as a principal player.
Artists under whom he has performed include Sir Adrian Boult, Erich Leinsdorf, Benjamin Britten, Mtslav Rostropovich, Yehudi Menuhin, Vernon Handley, Hans-Werner Henze and Raymond Leppard. He founded the University of Stellenbosch String Ensemble (1977) and the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra (1981).
To date he has conducted about 500 performances with these orchestras, and has toured Europe on four occasions. Prof Rycroft has conducted or performed as a soloist with all of the professional orchestras in South Africa . He is also regularly invited to train and conduct regional and national youth orchestras in the country.
In addition, Eric Rycroft has been a committed professional chamber music artist, being a founder member of the South African Chamber Music Society, the Endler Trio and the Cape Philharmonic Octet. In 1995, the Chamber Music Society was invited to record eight CDs for international release by Koch Discover International. In 1994, Eric Rycroft was selected from 100 applicants worldwide to train and conduct the historic Portland Youth Philharmonic for four intensive weeks in Portland , Oregon .
Among the prestigious prizes he has been awarded are the Ernest Tomlinsom prize (1970), for the most outstanding violist at the Royal College of Music; SABC Music Prize (1973), overall winner solo performing; Siebert National Conducting Competition (1987); and the SABC Artes Award (1988) for the most outstanding performance recorded by the SABC in that year.
His career at Stellenbosch University came to a premature end in 2001 due to a very serious motor accident. However, Eric Rycroft has remained totally committed to his chosen art form and continues to conduct, youth and professional orchestras, to examine and adjudicate on a freelance basis.