International Organ Competition at St Albans: The Winners
18 July 2011
The Interpretation Competition of the International Organ Festival at St Albans was won on Friday night by David Baskeyfield (UK); the Improvisation Competition was won by Paul Goussot (France).
In the finals Baskeyfield beat Steven Grahl (UK), Ka Young Lee (South Korea) and Simone Vebber (Italy) to take the coveted prize. The set work – André Isoir's Variations on a Huguenot Psalm – gave the opportunity for each organist to demonstrate a wide range of tone colours available on the Cathedral's 1962/2009 Harrison & Harrison organ. The last of the finalists to perform – beginning his 45-minute recital at 10pm – Baskeyfield said afterwards that he had chosen his programme bearing in mind that the audience would already have hear a lot of organ music and would probably be tired. So alongside the bigger works of Bach's A minor Prelude & Fugue, BWV 543 and the final movement from Vierne's Organ Symphony no.6, the audience heard the elegantly ornamented Mozart Andante in F, KV616, and the delicate filigree writing of Vierne's Naïades from Pièces de Fantaisie. His performance was so well received that he was also awarded the Audience Prize.
Baskeyfield is having a successful year, having already come second in Pipeworks, the Dublin International Organ Competition, last month. He is a currently a doctoral student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
The three finalists in the Improvisation Competition – Goussot, Samuel Liégeon (France) and Erik Kolind (Denmark) – were presented with themes composed by Loïc Mallié from which they improvised a three-movement symphony of 20 minutes. Goussot is titulaire of the Dom Bedos organ at the Abbey of Ste-Croix, Bordeaux, and a harpsichord professor at the Conservatoire of Chaville.
Other prizes were awarded to: Simone Vebber (the Peter Hurford Prize for the best performance of a work by JS Bach); Kyle Babin (the Douglas May Award for his performance of Thierry Escaich's Ground II for organ and percussion); and Ka Young Lee, who was runner-up in the Interpretation Competition, also won the prize for the best performance of the Commissioned Work, John McCabe's Esperanza.
5 July 2011
Gerard Brooks will give a 40-minute recital of French Romantic organ music in a concert to raise funds for a new full-length documentary DVD about the life and work of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
The film is being produced by Fugue State Films to mark the 200th anniversary of the master organ builder’s birth, as well as the upcoming 150th anniversary of his organ at St Sulpice, Paris.
Will Fraser of Fugue State Films said: ‘We’ve raised £77,000 of our £80,000 goal – this fundraiser will be a fun event that will help us raise the last £3,000. It’ll also let us tell everyone how we intend to produce what will be our biggest and most important production thus far.’
The concert is being held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13 July in St James, Clerkenwell, London EC1. Admission: free for everyone who has already subscribed or invested; for others £10, including a free drink (entrance fee will be refunded for those who pre-buy a DVD.
Details are at http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/cavaille-coll
Contact Fugue State Films at 020 7502 6861, firstname.lastname@example.org
Directions to St James Church, Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0EA: http://www.jc-church.org/findus.htm
International Organ Festival Starts Next Week
29 June 2011
We are now just one week away from the International Organ Festival of St Albans, which takes place on 7-16 July 2011.
This year, the competitions feature a special commission from John McCabe, called Esperanza, which will be played in the Interpretation quarter-finals. Competitors in the semi-finals of both the Interpretation and Improvisation competitions will be required to perform with percussion.
The shortlisted competitors include four organists from the UK. A full list of competitors is below:
- Kyle Babin (USA)
- David Baskeyfield (UK)
- Thomas Corns (UK)
- Paul Goussot (France)
- Steven Grahl (UK)
- Babett Hartmann (Germany)
- Heejin Kim (South Korea)
- Hyerim Kim (South Korea)
- Jiyeon Kim (South Korea)
- Erik Kolind (Denmark)
- Péter Kováts (Hungary)
- Ronny Krippner (Germany)
- Sebastian Küchler-Blessing (Germany)
- Ka Young Less (South Korea)
- Geerten Kiefting (Netherlands)
- Samuel Liégeon (France)
- Jason Roberts (USA)
- Yu Sasaki (Japan)
- Martin Sturm (Germany)
- Simone Vebber (Italy)
- Christian Wilson (UK)
A full programme of events can be found here.
Ray of Hope for University Music
29 June 2011
The Director of Music’s office at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, has won a partial reprieve following the publication of plans to disband the department. The reprieve for the music department comes in the context of wider-spread cuts in courses at the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow that gave rise to student protests at the beginning of June. The protests culminated in student’s occupying the Geography and Sociology Department on the eve of the court hearing to decide the future of the departments.
The proposals, which were part of a cost-cutting exercise by the university’s principal Prof. Jim McDonald, threatened the future of the University Music Society, which runs a 40-piece chamber choir, a symphony orchestra, a concert band, big band and Celtic ensemble. This is turn would leave students on the BA Applied Music course, who are required to participate in the groups, high and dry; the move also threatened to make a white elephant of the new Bach-style Kögler organ in the university’s Barony Hall.
Now a stay of execution has given the department three years to bring in additional income through donations, sponsorship and ticket sales. The cuts, set to save £244,000, have sparked condemnation from leading figures in arts and education:
- Composer James MacMillan said that cuts ‘amounted to vandalism’.
- Actor Peter Capaldi, who began his career in the Strathclyde Theatre Group which uses the Ramshorn, said he was ‘alarmed and upset’ by the proposals.
- A former vice-principal, Emeritus Professor Peter Reed, accused Strathclyde of having ‘tunnel vision’.
Defending the proposals, McDonald told journalists: ‘From 1 August we anticipate a funding cut of about £12 million, but we still want to invest in those areas that are critical in delivering our strategic objectives to develop Strathclyde as a leading international technological institution.’ He insisted culture and arts had not been singled out: ‘Strathclyde has been, and will continue to be, committed to culture and the arts because we genuinely believe it enhances our students’ experience, but we have to address how we sustain and maximise the potential for these activities as we are doing in all other areas.’
The renowned American philosopher Noam Chomsky, known as the ‘father of modern linguistics’, also entered the debate, describing McDonald’s vision of a ‘Massachusetts Institute of Technology of the Clyde’ as ‘very odd,’ telling journalists: ‘If the goal is to turn Strathclyde into the MIT of Scotland by curtailing programmes in the social sciences, it is the MIT of half-a-century ago that is envisioned, if even that.’
Nicholas Danby Scholarship goes to Richard Brasier
29 June 2011
The Nicholas Danby Trust has announced that the 2011 Scholarship has been awarded to Richard Brasier. The £6,000 per annum scholarship is awarded biennially to a postgraduate organ student of exceptional promise, enabling them to undertake conservatoire study outside his or her own country for up to two years.
The award was announced prior to Olivier Latry’s recital at Southwark Cathedral last Thursday (23 June), and Richard was introduced to people at a reception which followed the concert.
Richard will be using the scholarship to undertake a two-year course at the Cologne Musikhochschule, where he will study with Johannes Geffert. Richard, who began his musical training on the piano aged 10, gave his first recital aged 16, just one year after he took up the organ. Prior to taking up a place at the Royal Academy of Music to study with David Titterington and Nicolas Kynaston, Richard spent a year as organ scholar Chelmsford Cathedral and two years as assistant organist at St Alfege Parish Church, Greenwich. He is currently organ scholar at St Marylebone Parish Church in central London and organist of Marylebone School for Girls. His work includes teaching instrumental and theoretical music and accompanying. More recently, he has formed a partnership with fellow RAM student and trumpeter Nathan Richards, performing both original repertoire and arrangements of instrumental works.
Each Nicholas Danby organ scholar benefits from the advice and aid of the trustees. Current trustees are: Stephen Turvey, Margaret Danby, James O’Donnell, Patrick Russill, Catherine Ennis, Peter Wright, Barry Woodman and Mary Danby Calvert.