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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

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to have permanent organ

4 September 2015

The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

The main auditorium
The main auditorium

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is to have a permanent organ for the first time, thanks to a fundraising initiative by the Merchants House of Glasgow. The £155,000 digital organ is being installed and voiced ready for its inaugural recital on 23 September by Ian Tracey, organist titular at Liverpool Cathedral.

The instrument, which has 76 speaking stops, has been designed specifically for the venue’s main auditorium. It has 56 full range and 8 bass speaker boxes with more than 170 independent speaker drivers. Installation began in July.

The new organ was designed in collaboration with organists James Hunter (honorary director of music at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum) and Matt Edwards (director of music at Thomas Coats Memorial Church, Paisley), while Tracey also played a key part in the consultation process. It was built by UK-based digital organ specialists Copeman Hart & Company.

Cllr Archie Graham, chair of Glasgow Life, said: ‘Glasgow’s fantastic range of music venues and facilities contributes to the city being one of the most exciting and enjoyable places to live and visit for music lovers. The new organ at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is a valuable addition to our vibrant musical landscape, and I would like to thank the Merchants House, whose fantastic work was invaluable to making this happen.’

The main auditorium

Raymond Williamson, the city’s former Lord Dean of Guild – who provided the driving force behind the fundraising project – said: ‘For over 400 years the Merchants House has played an important part in the civic and cultural life of the city and we are delighted to have raised the funds for a bespoke digital organ for the city’s Royal Concert Hall. Now, twenty five years after it opened, the city’s Royal Concert Hall will have a permanent organ for the first time in its main auditorium. I would like to thank the wide range of individuals and organisations who contributed.

‘Without their generosity we would not be able to build and install this new bespoke digital organ which I am sure will be at the heart of many performances over the months and years ahead.’

The inaugural recital, which begins at 7.30pm, will feature work by Soler, Pachelbel, Bach, Schumann, Whitlock, Franck, Warlock, Peeters, Tchaikovsky and Widor. Earlier in the day, James Hunter will host a special event in which Tracey will give a demonstration of the instrument before allowing local organists to inspect the instrument at close hand and try it out for themselves. The event, which will take place from 2.30-5.30pm, is free and will not be ticketed.

Glasgow Concert Halls

BBC Music announces Ten Pieces Secondary film presenters

3 September 2015

Wayne Marshall
Wayne Marshall

James May
James MayBBC

BBC Music has announced the presenters for its Ten Pieces Secondary film, which will be shown across the UK free of charge in October. The hour-long film will feature specially shot performances of the ten pieces featuring the BBC Philharmonic and members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, conducted by Alpesh Chauhan.

The presenters are:
  • TV presenter and journalist James May: Bach, orch. Stokowski – Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 / Soloist: Wayne Marshall
  • Singer Pixie Lott: Bernstein – ‘Mambo‘ from West Side Story
  • Actor Bobby Lockwood and TV presenter and actor Naomi Wilkinson: Bizet – ‘Habanera‘ and ‘Toreador Song‘ from Carmen Suite
  • Comedian and rapper Doc Brown: Anna Clyne – Night Ferry
  • TV presenter and former footballer Dion Dublin: Haydn – Trumpet Concerto (third movement) / Soloist: Alison Balsom
  • Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo and composer Gabriel Prokofiev: Gabriel Prokofiev – Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra (fifth movement) / Soloist: DJ Mr Switch
  • Poet and Broadcaster Lemn Sissay: Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10 (second movement)
  • TV presenter Molly Rainford: Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending / Soloist: Nicola Benedetti
  • Comedian Vikki Stone: Verdi – ‘Dies Irae’ from Requiem / featuring the Hallé Choir
  • Actor Christopher Eccleston: Wagner – ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ from Die Walküre
The trailer for the film can be found here.

Teachers will once again have access to a range of online resources to explore the works in their own lessons, encouraging pupils to respond to the music through composition, dance or art.

The initiative follows in the footsteps of Ten Pieces Primary, which has engaged more than half of UK primary schools (over 11,000 in total) since its launch in autumn 2014. The resources for Ten Pieces Primary will be available throughout 2015/16, with schools encouraged to continue their involvement.

From 28 September – 10 October, Radio 3 will present a Ten Pieces season. Each of the pieces will be played on Breakfast, while Afternoon on 3, CD Review, In Tune and Essential Classics will also feature the chosen works.

Schools can book free cinema tickets now for the nationwide screenings. 

BBC Ten Pieces

Choir and Organ September-October issue is out now!

3 September 2015

Now approaching his 75th birthday, English composer John Rutter speaks exclusively to Choir & Organ about life in Cambridge, choral commissions and how he began his illustrious career; we go behind the scenes of the 1735 Richard Bridge organ at Christ Church Spitalfields now restored to its former glory by Williams Drake Ltd; and our obituary for the celebrated organist and music director John Scott. Plus, the striking contours of the new Marcussen organ in Aalborg; widen your horizons with choral repertoire from Brazil; the thriving world of young organists at Alkmaar and St Albans; editor Maggie Hamilton visits the 300th anniversary celebrations of the Three Choirs Festival; the flexible musical diet of Philharmonia Voices; David Hill’s guide to conducting Mozart’s Solemn Vespers; a bird’s-eye view of liturgical music in Trondheim; how a Bishop & Son organ won over a congregation opposed to instruments in Ipswich; and our Scholarships and voice trails supplement for choristers, choral scholars and organists. 

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Alamire and BBCSO chorus win Gramophone awards

2 September 2015

The recordings which have won Gramophone Awards in each of the 12 main categories have been announced.

The winner of the choral category was the Chandos recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chorus and featuring Sarah Connolly, Stuart Skelton and David Soar as soloists. The Gramophone critic Andrew Achenbach described the disc as 'unquestionably the strongest Gerontius to have come my way since Sir Mark Elder's Gramophone Award-winning Hallé account', writing: 'Davis certainly secures a splendidly disciplined and consistently fervent response from his massed BBC Symphony forces'.

The early music category award went to The Spy's Choirbook, recorded by Alamire and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble under David Skinner for Obsidian. Gramophone's David Fallows wrote of the recording: 'What we have here is a complete recording of the entire choirbook in its manuscript order: 34 four-voice motets from the first decade of the century by French and Franco-Flemish composers, giving a magnificent panorama of the repertory. Most of them have never been recorded before.

'Most of the music is performed by the mixed voices alone, a small group sounding gorgeous throughout.'

One of these discs will be named Gramophone recording of the year at an event at St John’s, Smith Square on 17 September. The event will also reveal the winners of the Gramophone artist of the year, young artist of the year and label of the year awards, as well as the recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Gramophone editor-in-chief James Jolly said: ‘The voting process for this year’s awards entailed a wonderfully enjoyable few months, with some magnificent artists caught in their absolute prime and an industry showing flair and imagination, unimpaired by the tough market conditions. We look forward to revealing the recording of the year at the ceremony next month.’

The original Gramophone reviews of all the shortlisted recordings have been reproduced in a special digimag (in association with Qobuz) available to download for free for iPad or tablet.

Gramophone Awards 2015

Hilliard Ensemble and Schola Cantorum Basiliensis win REMA awards

2 September 2015

The Hilliard Ensemble
The Hilliard EnsembleMarco Borggreve

The winners of the REMA Early Music Awards have been announced. The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis won the inaugural REMA Early Music Award, while the Hilliard Ensemble were given the special REMA Early Music Artist Award.

New this year, the REMA Early Music Award was established in order to recognise ensembles and institutions who have made an outstanding contribution to the study and popularisation of early music.

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis is a centre for practical training in early music and research into historical performance practice. It regularly organises public concerts and supports young performers. Staff and students are drawn from across the world.

The Schola’s director, Pedro Memelsdorff, said: ‘It’s a big honour and a joy for Schola to receive this award from REMA. Restoring music of the past to pass it to future generations and to get from them the novelty of their invention, their imagination, has always been our goal.’

The Hilliard Ensemble, founded in 1973 and disbanded at the end of 2014, played a major role in rediscovering and popularising early music. The group specialised in music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, but also performed contemporary music.

REMA (European Early Music Network) was created in 2000, and now has 60 member organisations from 21 countries. It coordinates networking sessions, and has organised the European Day of Early Music on 21 March each year since 2013.

The REMA Early Music Awards ceremony took place in Antwerp, Belgium on 22 August 2015.

REMA (European Early Music Network)

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