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Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

May/June 2014 on sale from 28 April

Choir & Organ is the leading independent magazine for all professionals and amateurs in the choral and organ worlds – whether you are an organist, choral director or singer, organ builder, keen listener, or work in publishing or the record industry, Choir & Organ is a must-read wherever you live and work.

Every two months our expert contributors bring you beautifully illustrated features on newly built and restored organs, insights into the lives and views of leading organists, choral directors and composers, profiles of pioneering and well-established choirs, and topical coverage of new research, festivals and exhibitions. In keeping with our commitment to music at the cutting edge, we commission a new work from a young composer in every issue, making the score freely available for download and performance.

Our international news and previews, with breaking stories, key awards and forthcoming premieres, combine with reviews of the latest CDs, DVDs and sheet music, and listings of recitals, festivals and courses, to keep you up to date with events and developments around the world.

Pull out all the stops


Maggie Hamilton, editor Choir & Organ

Maggie Hamilton - Editor
From the current issue of Choir & Organ


The Royal Festival Hall organ is back up and running, and what a triumph were the two weeks of concerts, exhibitions and lectures in March that trumpeted its return. With renewed clarity of sound, and with recitalists in turn demonstrating just how convincing this instrument can be in a plethora of musical styles, the 1954 Harrison & Harrison shone night after night to packed houses, and to a listening world courtesy of BBC Radio 3’s residency, forming with performers and interviewees an eloquent alliance of advocates for the instrument and its repertoire – for two weeks at least, the organ came in from the cold. Three resounding cheers and a loud ‘bravo’ to the Harrison & Harrison team and to curator William McVicker.

This issue, Meurig Bowen explains how vital it is to commission new music. As artistic director of Cheltenham Music Festival, Bowen has inherited a tradition of commissioning to add to his own record in that field. In April we met in Oxford, for a Passiontide at Merton concert. Works for the Orgelbüchlein Project, including Stephen Hough’s chorale prelude (March/April New Music), preceded the premiere of Gabriel Jackson’s The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone questioning the value of commissioning new music should have been there. The organ pieces demonstrated how much scope there still is in the chorale prelude form; and the Passion showed how, inspiring though Bach’s St Matthew and St John are, there is so much more we can learn about the events that took place 2,000 years ago. Jackson’s sometimes searing scoring shed different hues on familiar biblical texts, while complementary non-biblical texts invited fresh understanding of the mystery of death and life. So three more resounding cheers for new works – for those who commission them, and for the composers who have the courage to write what they believe and who stick their necks on the block every time a premiere comes around.

Festival season is under way; and since many present new works that might be thought too risky for the regular concert season, do explore from those in our supplement – with so many listed, there’s bound to be one near you. Concert promoters need us to support new ventures, or they will be reluctant to take the financial risk again; composers need our encouragement as they pursue the even riskier business of exposing their inner selves to us; but most of all, we need new music to regenerate our souls.

In The Next Issue of Choir & Organ: JULY/AUGUST 2014 ISSUE On sale from 26 June

GALLERY: The new Klais organ in León Cathedral, Spain 

ON THE MOVE: Exclusive interview with Roger Wright, outgoing controller of BBC Radio 3 and the Proms 

ORGANS IN JAPAN: New organs by Kenneth Tickell and C.B. Fisk in Rikkyo 

WORLD WAR 1: As the armies went off to fight, what was being sung in their home countries? Plus commemorative events and publications 

CHORAL CONDUCTING TUTORIAL: David Hill on Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius 

Plus…The latest international news and previews, regular columns, specialist reviews, recitals listings and exclusive offers, supplement directory of pipe organ builders, and a global overview of organ building today

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