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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

RSCM Celebration Day 2015

5 October 2015

Singers from church choirs across East Anglia gathered in St Edmundsbury Cathedral on 3 October to take part in Royal School of Church Music Celebration Day. 

The event takes place in a different cathedral around the UK each year. This edition was combined with St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Choirs’ Festival.  
The service was based on the RSCM festival service book Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, published earlier in 2015 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Its theme is social justice, and the music sung on Saturday included a Kyrie by William Byrd, Magnificat in A by Herbert Sumsion, and the anthems Strengthen ye the weak hands by William Harris and God be in my head by Philip Wilby, along with prayers, readings and congregational hymns. 

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir also took part in the service, and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury, Rt Revd Martin Seeley, gave the address. 

Lord Gill, chairman of the RSCM Council, presented certificates to individuals who have made significant contributions to church music. Stephen Darlington, Andrew Millington, Andrew Nethsingha, David Ogden and Giles Bryant all became Fellows of the RSCM. 

Certificates were also presented to students who completed courses of study with the RSCM. 

Royal School of Church Music

Nigel Allcoat resigns as magistrate

29 September 2015

Nigel Allcoat
Nigel AllcoatAlex Hannam

Organist Nigel Allcoat resigned as a magistrate after he was suspended for contributing towards an asylum seeker’s court fee.

Formerly a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Allcoat paid £40 towards the court fees of a man in his 20s after proceedings reached an impasse; the court could only impose a fine which would make criminal activity more likely.

The individual appeared at Leicester magistrates court in early August after having defaulted on his fine, and was required to pay £180 in court fees.

He had £35 on a top-up card to use in specified shops, and was not allowed to take any form of work. A £60 victim surcharge he had owed in June had been paid by the owner of a burger stall, who occasionally fed the young man.

In an interview with the Guardian, Allcoat said: ‘These people have travelled for hundreds of miles to reach us, I wanted to show what British justice meant, to show him the character of this country is actually compassionate.

‘What can someone do in that situation, when you tell them they need to find £180 or they will go to prison, but they cannot work? They could steal the money? Commit another crime? That would cost the state even more money to have him put in prison. It costs more to keep someone in prison than to send a boy to Eton.

‘We were looking at the computer system that was pulling up this man again for non-payment. It was spontaneous, but I had £40 in my shirt pocket and thought: “What if I chipped in? If a burger stall owner can?”‘

Allcoat was suspended following an inquiry by the lord chancellor’s advisory committee, but resigned so he could speak freely on the incident. He admitted to missing being a magistrate, saying that ‘to work in the community and give something back was very important’.

The criminal courts charge came into effect earlier this year to ensure convicted adult offenders would pay towards the costs of the criminal justice system.

Sir David Willcocks (30 December 1919 – 17 September 2015)

17 September 2015

Sir David Willcocks
Sir David Willcocks

Choral conductor, organist and composer Sir David Willcocks died peacefully at home this morning (17 September), aged 95.

Born in Newquay, Cornwall, Willcocks was a chorister at Westminster Abbey and music scholar at Clifton College, Bristol before being appointed organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge in 1939.

He served in the British Army during World War II, receiving the Military Cross for his actions on the night of 10/11 July 1944, before returning to the university in 1945 to complete his studies. In 1947, he was elected a Fellow of King’s College; in the same year, he became organist at Salisbury Cathedral, moving to Worcester in 1950.

He will be best remembered by many for his time as director of music at King’s College, Cambridge (1957-1974). He  leaves behind a considerable legacy in the shape of his arrangements and descants of Christmas carols (published in the five Carols for Choirs anthologies) and his recordings with the college choir.

During his time at King’s College, Willcocks also served as the organist of Cambridge University, conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as university lecturer. He was appointed music director of the Bach Choir in 1960.

After leaving Cambridge, he was appointed music director emeritus, and became director of the Royal College of Music, a post he held until 1984.

In the 1971 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was created a Knight Bachelor in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Honours.

Martin Goetze (1951-2015)

8 September 2015

Organ builder and restorer Martin Goetze (1951-2015) died on 23 August.

Goetze's first experience of organ building was with Grant, Degens and Bradbeer in Northampton in 1971. He continued with Gabriel Kney in London, Ontario, before starting the firm Goetze and Gwynn with Dominic Gwynn in 1980.

Initially based in Northampton, Goetze and Gwynn moved to a purpose built workshop at Welbeck near Worksop in north Nottinghamshire in March 1985. The company, which specialises in the restoration of pre-Victorian British organs, completed its 100th project in 2014.

The company's restoration of the Thaxted organ in 2013 received great acclaim, as did its recreation of the Wetheringsett and Wingfield organs. Other lauded achievements include the restoration of the 1826 Elliot organ at Belton Hall and the 1829 Bishop organ at St James Bermondsey

Christopher Batchelor, president of the Institute of British Organ Building, wrote: 'Martin’s kind and gentle manner belied the depth of his understanding and knowledge of organs in general. All of us have experienced his generosity and encouragement, and we will remember him as an organ builder who contributed uniquely to organ building in the UK, as well as a man of great humour and integrity.'

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Martin Goetze will be held on 24 September at 6pm at St.Anne’s Church, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S80 1NJ. Light refreshments will be served in the church hall after the service. There is ample parking at the church and in the neighbouring streets.

Goetze and Gwynn

Cornelius Edskes (1925-2015)

8 September 2015

Cor Edskes
Cor Edskes

Cornelius ('Cor') Edskes, an authority on the history of organ building in Northern Europe, has died.

Edskes acquired practical knowledge of organ building through the Dutch firm Doornbos. He acted as consultant for the restoration of many of Europe's most important historical organs, working with the firm Marcussen & Son on the instruments in Roskilde Cathedral and Amsterdam's Nieuwe Kerk. 

He restored a number of instruments throughout Germany and Holland with the German organ builder Jürgen Ahrend, including Arp Schnitger's largest surviving organ at St Jacobi, Hamburg. 

Edskes was awarded an honorary doctorate by Göteborg University in 1996. The degree was conferred on the grounds that: 'For more than 40 years, Cor H. Edskes has embodied a model integration of scholarship, musicology, technical research and performance. His decades of highly interdisciplinary achievements as a foremost organologist have resulted in the creation of a legacy: in the absence of which, the remarkably high standards of contemporary organ-building and restoration could not have been achieved.'

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