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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

Applications open for the Last Choir Singing Competition 2016

14 October 2015

2015 winners Anchorsholme Primary Academy with Simon Bowman and Jonathan Ansell
2015 winners Anchorsholme Primary Academy with Simon Bowman and Jonathan Ansell

Applications for the Last Choir Singing Competition 2016 are now open.

The competition is open to choirs comprising Lancashire junior school children between Year 3 and Year 6. The winning choir will receive £1,000 in vouchers towards music equipment for their school and the True Bearing Last Choir Singing 2016 trophy. Each runner-up will receive £500 and winners of the regional heats will receive £250.

Each choir will compete in regional heats throughout February and March 2016, with the overall winners announced at the final, which will take place at King George’s Hall, Blackburn on 17 June.

The competition is sponsored by True Bearing Chartered Financial Planners in partnership with the Lancashire Music Hub, Blackburn with Darwen Music Hub and Blackpool Music Service.

George Critchley, chairman of True Bearing Chartered, said: ‘Last year’s competition was a huge success with around 1,500 children taking part in 45 choirs. We are delighted to bring it back for a second year and we aim to increase the number of contestants to 5,000. The UK has one of the most respected Choral traditions in the world and I am so proud to be part of that tradition with our support and sponsorship of Last Choir Singing. 

‘We wanted to give something back to a community that has supported our firm over the last 12 years. As organiser and main sponsor, True Bearing is keen to raise awareness of singing in junior schools and to demonstrate that music education is alive and well in Lancashire!’

The deadline for entries is 30 October 2015.

Last Choir Singing

DG makes first recording in the Sistine Chapel

14 October 2015

Sistine Chapel Choir and Massimo Palombella
Sistine Chapel Choir and Massimo PalombellaBurkhard Bartsch © Governatorato SCV - Direzione dei Musei

DG president Mark Wilkinson presents Pope Francis with a copy
DG president Mark Wilkinson presents Pope Francis with a copy

The Vatican has permitted the first ever recording in the Sistine Chapel.

Cantate Domino, featuring the Sistine Chapel Choir, has been released on Deutsche Grammophon.

The disc entered the specialist classical chart at number 3, with critics praising the recording's 'sumptuous sound'.

The album features music written for the Sistine Chapel Choir by Palestrina, Lassus and Victoria. It also includes two pieces of Gregorian chant and the world premiere recordings of the 1661 Sistine Codex version of Allegri’s Miserere and a Nunc dimittis attributed to Palestrina which is still used during papal celebrations.

Deutsche Grammophon set up a special studio within the chapel. The mixing desk was set up in an ante-chamber, next to the Sala del Pianto (where the newly elected cardinal is first dressed as Pope). Producer Anna Barry described it as an ‘overwhelming privilege’ to be among Michelangelo’s frescoes.

Choir director Massimo Palombella said: ‘The music we have recorded was created for papal celebrations in the Sistine Chapel and by composers who wrote specifically for the Sistine Chapel Choir. The Sistine Chapel was consecrated in 1483 and has been home to the papal choir ever since. After an intensive period of study and scholarship of the sacred music in the Renaissance and its aesthetic pertinence, we have arrived at the point of making the first commercial recording, in this remarkable building, with this prestigious label.’

Pope Francis received the first copy of the disc.

Cantate Domino

Applications open for the NYCGB Fellowship Programme 2016/17

13 October 2015

Applications are now open for the 2016/17 NYCGB Fellowship Programme.

The scheme, which launched in 2015, provides eight exceptional choral singers aged 22-25 with 50 days of training in performance, ensemble work, musical leadership and pedagogy over the course of a year (starting in September) designed to prepare them for professional activity as performers, educators and leaders. Each singer receives an annual bursary of £4,000.

A three-round audition process, held at locations nationwide from November to January, will subject candidates to advanced tests of individual vocal ability and ensemble skills with a wide range of exercises and challenges.

NYCGB Fellowship

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.

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