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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.

The Neoclassical Organ and the Great Aristide Cavaillé-Coll Organ of Saint-Sulpice, Paris

Latest News

Medal for Halsey

19 March 2015

Halsey is the recipient of Her Majesty’s Medal for Music 2014
Halsey is the recipient of Her Majesty’s Medal for Music 2014

Simon Halsey has been awarded Her Majesty’s Medal for Music 2014. Halsey – who has multiple roles including principal conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, chorus director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, and choral director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus – said he was ‘surprised and thrilled to receive this extraordinary honour from Her Majesty the Queen. Choral music is a vital part of our national life and is such a force for social and educational good. I’d like to see this medal as recognition of the work of a whole generation of dedicated choral musicians.’

Halsey is the tenth recipient of the award, which was created in 2005 to recognise an exceptional individual or group of musicians who have had a significant impact on the musical life of the country – its first recipient was Sir Charles Mackerras. Winners of Her Majesty’s Medal for Music may be of any nationality but must have had a major influence on the musical life of the UK. Nominations are administered by a committee under the chairmanship of the current Master of The Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, who commented: ‘Simon Halsey has made a fundamental contribution to European music through his championship of choral singing as a vital part of orchestral performance, a British tradition which stretches back several centuries … His lively, participatory style has inspired a new generation of young choral directors, together with a remarkable upsurge of interest in choirs and singing in the UK.’

Silbermann journal online

19 March 2015

The organ builder's journal is available to view digitally
The organ builder's journal is available to view digitally

The journal of 18th-century organ builder Johann Andreas Silbermann has now been digitized and can be seen online; it is also due to appear in book format.

The existence of the journal, titled ‘Notes on the matters of interest seen on my journey through Saxony’, was unknown until it turned up at the London auction house Sotherby’s in November. It was bought for €140,000 by the Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB). It describes the journey that Johann Andreas Silbermann – son of Andreas and nephew of Gottfried – took from February to June 1741, to get to know the terrain of his family, he himself being based in Strasbourg. En route he visited Gotha, Leipzig, Dresden, Freiberg, Berlin, and Zittau, where his uncle was in the process of building the organ in the Johanniskirche.



14 February 2015

The distinguished composer and pianist John McCabe died yesterday, after a long illness.   

McCabe was born in 1939, and studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music) and at the Hochschule für Musik, Munich. He successfully held together a dual career as a concert pianist – his complete Haydn Piano Sonatas for Decca became a landmark recording – and composing.   

His extensive catalogue, numbering more than 200 works, covered almost every genre, ranging from compositions for large orchestra (among them symphonies and concertos) and full-length ballets (Edward II, Arthur) through to chamber music, and particularly piano music. His choral canon included works with orchestra (the cantata Voyage, a Stabat Mater, Songs of the Garden, Reflections of a Summer Night), liturgical music and carols, and commissions from prestigious bodies and performing groups including the BBC, the King’s Singers, and festivals in Chichester, Norwich, Cork and Harrogate, among others. 

His most recent work, Christ’s Nativity, was commissioned by the Hallé Choir and was premiered in Manchester in December 2014.   

McCabe also wrote eleven works for solo organ, of which the most recent – Esperanza – was commissioned for the Interpretation Competition of the 2011 St Albans International Organ Festival. The work was inspired by the Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days following the accident at the Copiapó mine.   

McCabe was appointed CBE by Her Majesty The Queen in 1985 for his services to British music. In 2004 he was honoured with the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Distinguished Musician Award in recognition of his ‘outstanding contribution to British musical life’, and two years later received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Liverpool University. Last year he was presented with the Ivors Classical Music Award.  www.johnmccabe.com


Obituary in the May/June issue of Choir & Organ.


10 February 2015

Edward Nesbit, 28, has been selected as the winner of OPUS 2015, Britten Sinfonia’s open submission scheme for unrepresented composers.   

Applicants were asked to submit two pre-existing scores together with audio recordings. All applications were judged ‘blind’ by a panel led by Britten Sinfonia Principal Piano and composer Huw Watkins, and composer Dobrinka Tabakova. From 258 composers, 12 were shortlisted and invited to write a new piece for horn trio, workshopped in January 2015. From these, Nesbit was chosen to compose a full commission for Britten Sinfonia, to be performed in the ensemble's 'At Lunch' series in Norwich, Cambridge and Wigmore Hall, London, during November and December 2015.

This is the third year of OPUS, which offers a composer who is not represented by a publishing house a commission to write a work for Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning ‘At Lunch’ series.   

Nesbit’s Winter Journey for organ solo features in the New Music section of the January/February 2015 issue of Choir & Organ.   


10 February 2015

Gregory Batsleer wins Choral Conducting Award
Gregory Batsleer wins Choral Conducting Award© Eoin Carey

Gregory Batsleer has won the Arts Foundation Award 2015 for Choral Conducting. The award of £10,000 was presented by author Jeanette Winterson at a ceremony on 29 January at the 20th Century Theatre in Notting Hill, London.   

The Award is a first for the Foundation, and reflects the huge increase in community singing thanks to outreach work by musicians and musical organisations, and its popularisation through TV programmes.   

Batsleer (25) first became involved with choral singing at the age of nine as a member of the Manchester Boys Choir. He developed his choral conducting while a student in Princeton, and from 2008, based back in the UK, he co-founded the Manchester Consort, became director of the Hallé Youth Choir, and led the Manchester University Chorus. He graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2012, and is now artistic director of the National Portrait Choir, the only in-house choir in a UK gallery.   

Batsleer commented, ‘For my entire life choral music has made me tick, made me alert and has basically become the backbone to who I am. With the Arts Foundation Fellowship I will be able to give the needed space and dedication to my next stage of development, find new and further inspirations and give a commitment to learning and progressing the art of choral conducting.’   

The runners up were Isabelle Adams, Victoria Ely and Lee Reynolds, who each received £1,000. The judges were conductor Ralph Allwood MBE and composers Bob Chilcott and Cecilia McDowall.   

The Arts Foundation was founded by an anonymous donation in 1993 and has since given over £1.6m to support artists from all areas of the arts. Other awards presented on 29 January were for Spoken Word, Art in the Elements, Video & Digital for Performance, Materials Innovation and Arts Producers. 

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