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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.


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Latest News

BBC launches Christmas carol competition 

28 August 2014

The shortlisted carols will be performed by the BBC Singers
The shortlisted carols will be performed by the BBC Singers

A nation-wide Christmas carol competition has been launched by the BBC. Applicants are being challenged to compose a brand-new carol which will be performed by the BBC Singers live on BBC Radio 3.

Entrants must set the words of specially commissioned poem ‘Can it be True?’ by acclaimed author Susan Hill. Entries can be written in any style, but must be either a cappella or with a piano accompaniment.

Judges among the competition’s panel will include Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music and Associate Composer for BBC Singers, and David Hill, Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers. The judges will shortlist six carols to be performed live on Radio 3 on 16 December by the BBC Singers.

Listeners will then be invited to vote for their favourite carol, with voting closing on 22 December. The entry receiving the largest number of votes will be performed live on Radio 3’s Breakfast show on 23 December and a recording played on the station across Christmas Day.

The competition is open to UK residents over the age of 16. The deadline for entries in 10 November 2014; successful shortlisted entrants will be contacted by 25 November.

Visit the BBC website for Susan Hill’s poem, as well as the full terms and conditions for the competition.

Kenneth Tickell dies

29 July 2014

British organ builder Kenneth Tickell died suddenly on 24 July, following a pulmonary embolism.

Having trained in organ building with Grant, Degens and Bradbeer, Tickell established his first workshop in Northampton in 1982. From that time, he built up a business of nine full-time staff members to match an impressive portfolio of mainly new instruments, among them chamber organs for Westminster Abbey and Canterbury, Lincoln, Bristol, Truro, St Davids, Hereford and St Paul’s, London cathedrals, and for Magdalen College, Oxford, and Jesus and Selwyn colleges, Cambridge; and from his first 3-manual instrument for Douai Abbey in 1993, large organs for St Barnabas, Dulwich, Eton College, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, London, St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne, and 4-manual organs for Worcester Cathedral and Keble College, Oxford. Though his commissions were mainly UK-based, Tickell also built organs for Italy, the EU Baroque Orchestra, the church of Nesbyen, Norway, the Venerabile Collegio Inglese, Rome, Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide, and the University of Queensland, Australia, and most recently Rikkyo Gakuin University, Tokyo (featured in the July/August issue of Choir & Organ).

Tickell was an accomplished organist, having studied with Robert Weddle, Francis Jackson, Simon Lindley and Gillian Weir, gaining his FRCO in 1977 and graduating in Music from Hull University (where he was organ scholar) in 1978. For many years he was Director of Music at St Mary’s, Northampton.

He was a founder member and first President from 1996-2001 of the Institute of British Organbuilding, and remained an Executive Board member.

Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2014 – Results

23 July 2014

Seán Doherty has won the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2014, held in partnership with Merton College, Oxford, with his carol A Nywe Werk. Doherty declared himself ‘delighted’ to have won: ‘The opportunity to enter, with these jury members, was too good to miss.’    


Entrants were asked to submit an Advent or Christmas carol for up to 8-voice unaccompanied choir (SATB div) of a suitable standard for the Choir of Merton College, and to a text of the composer’s choice. Doherty wrote an energetic SSAATTBB unaccompanied setting of the text of an anonymous 15th-century carol in the Selden manuscript: ‘A nywe werk is come on honed’ (A new work is come on hand).   

Doherty, from Derry in Northern Ireland, studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, before engaging in postgraduate research at Trinity College, University of Dublin. Commissions have included a short opera, Number Seven, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and a choral work, Doire, to celebrate Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013.   

A distinguished jury of Benjamin Nicholas (Reed Rubin Organist and Director of Music of Merton College, Oxford), Simon Halsey (chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, chorus director of the CBSO Chorus, and choral director of the LSO and Chorus), Donald Nally (director of The Crossing, and professor at Northwestern University), Meurig Bowen (artistic director, Cheltenham Festival) and Matthew Martin (composer) chose Doherty’s piece from a total of 27 entries sent from France, Germany, Poland, the US, and the UK. Runner-up was Balulalow by Edward Nesbit, and third equal were John Wadsworth’s A baby is a harmless thing, and Shine Forth by Barnaby Martin.   

Seán Doherty wins a prize of £1,000 and will be interviewed in the November/December 2014 issue of Choir & Organ. The premiere of A Nywe Werk will be given by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, directed by Benjamin Nicholas, on 4 December in Merton College Chapel, Oxford. 


Change of date for C&O new music premiere

22 July 2014

The premiere of Gareth Wilson's 'Prologue', in partnership with Merton College Oxford, will now take place on Thursday 30 October at Evensong and not on 12 October as previously advertised.

Choir & Organ’s New Music series is a group of specially commissioned pieces written by some of the most talented young composers around. 

In every issue of Choir & Organ magazine, you’ll find a profile of the composer providing an insight into the new work; the scores, licensed for six months, can be download from www.choirandorgan.com. 

In 2014, our New Music partner is Merton College, Oxford. The Choir of Merton College will give the premieres of our three choral commissions and the winning entry in the Choir & Organ 2014 Composition Competition. All four choral pieces will be included in the Merton Choirbook, being compiled to celebrate the College’s 750th anniversary in 2014. The two organ compositions will be premiered on the new Dobson organ in the College Chapel.

Upcoming premieres:

  • Lucy Pankhurst: DCCL:750, for organ & trumpet in B flat
    9pm, Friday 12 September
  • Gareth Wilson: Prologue – NEW DATE
    Evensong, 6.15pm, Thursday 30 October
  • Advent carol (winner of Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2014)
    5.45pm, Saturday 29 November

Genesis Sixteen appoints first student conductor

18 July 2014

Anna Jones

The Sixteen’s young artists’ scheme, Genesis Sixteen, has announced the appointment of their first student conductor. King's College, Cambridge graduate Robbie Jacobs will be the first to fill the role. Jacobs is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music for his masters in Choral Conducting.

Jacobs has worked with the London Youth Choir and has travelled to Kigali, Rwanda to do vocal coaching.

In his new role, Jacobs will participate in all four Genesis Sixteen courses during 2014/15 and will conduct some public performances. Speaking of the impact of the Genesis Sixteen on singers, Jacobs said that it has a ‘transformative impact on their musical perspectives and increased the scope of their career aspirations’.

Genesis Sixteen aims to nurture the next generation of ensemble singers. During the course of a year, a series of week-long and weekend courses are led by key figures such as The Sixteen’s founder and conductor Harry Christophers and associate conductor Eamonn Dougan. Those taking part receive group tuition, individual mentoring and are led in masterclasses by vocal experts.


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