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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.

Pull out all the stops

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

Latest News

Winner announced for the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2012

16 July 2012

2012 winner Seán Doherty
2012 winner Seán Doherty

Seán Doherty, 25, has won the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2012 with his setting of Blessed be that Maid Marie. 

Doherty, originally from Derry, Northern Ireland, read music at St John's College, Cambridge before undertaking a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin. Though his PhD research concerned music theory in 17th-century England, Seán has also continued to compose. He won the St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh Anthem Competition 2012, the Jerome Hynes Composition Competition in 2011, and is a two-time winner of the Feis Ceoil Choral Composition Competition, as well having received various other choral commissions. His passion for choral music stems from singing in Codetta chamber choir, the chapel choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and the choir of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

The jury for this year’s competition comprised David Halls, Sarah Baldock, Andrew Lumsden (directors of music at Salisbury, Chichester and Winchester Cathedrals) and choral composer and conductor Bob Chilcott.

The premiere of the winning piece will be given by the Choir of Salisbury Cathedral, directed by David Halls, at the Christmas Carol Service on Friday 21 Dec, 7pm and Sunday 23 Dec, 5pm.

Contemporary Swedish Twist for Schulich Music School

16 July 2012

Hans-Ola Ericsson: Named as the new Performance Area Chair and Professor of Organ and Church Music
Hans-Ola Ericsson: Named as the new Performance Area Chair and Professor of Organ and Church Music

Swedish pedagogue, organist and composer Hans-Ola Ericsson is to succeed Prof. John Grew as Performance Area Chair and Professor of Organ and Church Music at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

A former pupil of Nono and Messiaen, with whom he later worked, Ericsson has an international reputation as a lecturer and performer of contemporary music; his extensive recordings include the complete organ works of Messiaen and have earned him four Swedish Gramophone Prizes.

Ericsson’s teaching engagements have included Piteå in the north of Sweden, where he chaired the Church Music and Organ department, and Darmstadt, Bremen, Riga, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Amsterdam; he was Principal Guest Organist of the Lahti Organ Festival, Finland, and from 2005 artistic consultant for the Bodø International Organ Festival in Norway.

During his 29 years at McGill, Prof. Grew built a reputation for excellence in his department. He established the university’s Early Music programme, the largest of its kind in Canada, and collaborated with Helmuth Wolff in planning the French classical organ at Redpath Hall, one of the most important concert venues in Montreal. 

Concerts at Edinburgh Festival mark Delphian Records tenth birthday

16 July 2012

Edinburgh: Delphian Records are celebrating their tenth anniversary as part of the Fringe Festival
Edinburgh: Delphian Records are celebrating their tenth anniversary as part of the Fringe Festival

Scottish label Delphian Records is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its first release with a series of concerts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Between 5 Aug and 29 Aug, nine of its recorded artists – including John Kitchen and the choirs of St Mary’s Cathedral and Merton College, Oxford – will present music spanning five centuries in venues around the city.

Delphian Records was founded in 2000 by University of Edinburgh graduates Paul Baxter and Kevin Findlan to promote music created in Scotland. Since its first CD was released in 2002, the label has developed a unique catalogue of music which focuses on both contemporary and classical chamber music, choral, vocal, and instrumental work.

As the inspiration for founding Delphian Records, the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival is an appropriate event for the celebrations to take place. Delphian’s series includes:

8 Aug, St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate: John Kitchen plays music from the age of Louis XV on the 1769 Taskin harpsichord, celebrating the release of his new CD.
13 Aug, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral: The Choir of Merton College, Oxford, directed by Benjamin Nicholas. The choir, established in 2008, is formed of 30 under- and postgraduate students from Oxford. They have toured France and the USA with performances of Bach and Mozart. 
24 Aug, St Mary’s Cathedral: a concert of music by Gabriel Jackson. The composer is marking his 50th birthday with a new disc of choral music recorded by the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral. 
29 Aug, St Mary’s Cathedral: a candlelit recital by The Marian Consort, with works from Byrd, Robert White, Regnart and Isaac.

Tickets to the concerts cost £6-£12 and are available from the Fringe box office (0131 226 0000).

Choristers of The Chapel Royal take part in Practice-A-Thon

5 July 2012

Choristers are taking part in a two-week Practice-A-Thon
Choristers are taking part in a two-week Practice-A-Thon

Choristers of The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, are taking part in a sponsored practice to raise funds for the Choral Foundation. The Practice-A-Thon involves them in practising their voice or instruments for 15 minutes every day over a two-week period.

The challenge began on 30 June and culminates in a concert on 14 July, with current and former choristers performing in the Palace’s Chapel Royal from 10am to 5.30pm in a variety of vocal and instrumental solos and ensembles. The event is free and open to the public.

The Choral Foundation has been aiming to raise £1.5 million, half of which has been already met by donations from parishioners and the public. The money raised will go toward training the choirboys and funding the Gentleman singers. There are also hopes to restore the chapel’s organ: built by Christopher Schrider in 1711-12, it has seen modernisations take place over the years, including substantial improvements made in 1993.

Schrider was the son-in-law of royal organ builder ‘Father’ Smith, who was commissioned in 1690 to build the Chapel Royal’s organ, but his work was destroyed by a fire before its installation.

Chapel Royal Chaplain Canon Denis Mulliner said: ‘The public are most welcome to attend the services on any Sunday, as well as Holy Days. Worshippers do not pay the Palace entrance fee. The Chapel Royal is a hidden treasure, a living, vibrant church with an outstanding choir at the centre of an historic royal palace.  We would like to share this with as many visitors as possible.’

Report rejects cull of BBC performing groups 

22 June 2012

The Myerscough Report leaves  BBC performing groups intact
The Myerscough Report leaves BBC performing groups intact© BBC

‘The operation of the BBC Singers and the BBC orchestras appears cost-effective and efficient,’ is the conclusion of a report commissioned by the BBC to examine the structure, running and financing of the Corporation’s five performing groups (PGs) – the Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra ; the report was commissioned from economist and cultural affairs consultant John Myerscough, in the light of the BBC’s licence fee freeze which has seen cuts of up to 20% across the national broadcaster’s budgets.

The report highlighted the fact that, to meet the requirements of BBC broadcast, the PGs deliver twice the repertoire of independent organisations, with distinctive programmes which make way for rarities and work by living composers. ‘The budgets of the [PGs] are significantly lower than those of comparable independents … they make good use of commercial earnings available to them.’

In response to calls for one or more of the PGs to be disbanded to save money, the report highlighted the impact that such a move would have on audiences in Scotland, Wales, the North of England and London, where the BBC SO forms the backbone of Proms performances and promotes regular seasons at the Barbican. But the counter-arguments remained firmly economic and editorial: ‘The report examined both closures of the PGs and equal cost reductions as a means of decreasing investment,’ Myerscough declared in the report’s Conclusion. ‘Either way a severe diminution would result, in the quality, range and volume of live and specially recorded music available to the BBC. This would be inconsistent with the Corporation’s editorial needs and delivery to audiences. Savings would only be achieved were the lost output not to be replaced, and like-for-like replacement programming, sourced elsewhere, would more than eat up savings generated by in-house closures.‘

With 20% savings (approximately £5.38m of the £26.9m annual running costs) considered to be ‘unachievable’, the report charges BBC managers with the task of achieving greater efficiencies. As the bulk of the costs consist of the wage bill for the PGs’ 404 full-time salaried musicians, it is thought that such efficiencies will come from a pay freeze, reductions in the size of the groups’ permanent complement of players, the employment of more freelances and the merger of more administrative functions.

The Myerscough Report (PDF) can be downloaded from here:

The Myerscough Report

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