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

John Armitage Memorial charity launches ‘Call for Music’

16 October 2012

The JAM (John Armitage Memorial) charity has launched a ‘Call for Music’ in a bid to attract composers in a two-step project designed to inspire new work, and to take the writers to a new level of attainment through hands-on mentoring.

In the first stage, JAM is inviting composers of any age or stage, born, living or studying in the UK to submit pieces of up to ten minutes’ duration, for choir, brass quintet and organ, or any combination of these forces. Every work submitted will be assessed by the JAM panel: Judith Bingham, Nicholas Cleobury, Eric Crees, Michael Emery, Timothy Jackson, Robert Jones and Sarah MacDonald. As with previous JAM projects, successful entrants will receive professional performances in London and around the UK.

In part two of the process, six composers will receive invitations to take part in a Britten centenary project, Writing for Voices, within the 2013 Britten in Oxford festival. Each composer will be matched with a librettist or ‘word-smith’, and as a creative unit they will be paired with a choir, which could be a youth, college or parish choir. In a three-way collaboration, one piece will be created by each unit and performed by its choir in a public concert in Oxford in May. Overseeing each project will be a hands-on tutor group of musicians and writers including Nicholas Cleobury, Judith Bingham, Giles Swayne, Ruth Padel and David Harsent.

Works for performance with JAM will be chosen in December; the first tutor weekend for the six composers selected for Writing for Voices will be held in January. For full details, and to register, visit

Closing date for compositions: 23 November.

Lichfield Cathedral admits Girl Choristers for the first time

24 September 2012

Making history: Lichfield Cathedral Girl Choristers
Making history: Lichfield Cathedral Girl Choristers

The Choral Foundation of Lichfield Cathedral has announced that for the first time in its 800-year history it is opening its doors to girl choristers to sing services. The first service under this new arrangement took place yesterday afternoon.

Since 1315 the foundation has sung the services at Lichfield Cathedral. In 2006 Lichfield Cathedral School established a scholarship-based Girls’ Choir who have sung in services, but never before as part of the Choral Foundation.

Dean of Lichfield, The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said of the news: ‘The admission of girl choristers to the historic choral foundation of the Cathedral is good news for us all. It allows girls to share the educational and other benefits of being a chorister, which boys have been enjoying for centuries.

‘I am very happy that this development is another example of our close cooperation with the Cathedral School. Together, we will enable more young people to develop their skills and talents, making them very strong candidates for good universities when the time comes to apply.’

Girl choristers will all be music scholars between the ages of 10-15 and attendees of Lichfield Cathedral School. On 26 January the school is holding a free choral workshop day for girls interested in becoming choristers.

For more information and to find out how to get involved, call the admissions team at Lichfield Cathedral School on 01543 306 168, or visit their website.

New National President for Royal Canadian College of Organists

17 September 2012

Fairbank: Appointed as National President of RCCO
Fairbank: Appointed as National President of RCCO

Nicholas Fairbank has been appointed National President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO). The Victoria (BC) organist will serve in the post until July 2014.

The RCCO has over 1,000 members across the country. Previous Presidents have included Healey Willan, Sir Ernest MacMillan and Barrie Cabena.

Commenting on one of the challenges facing Fairbank, the RCCO said: ‘As churches close, or move away from traditional liturgical organ and choral music, the role of the pipe organ in Canada is changing, and one of Fairbank’s goals as President is to raise the awareness of the organ as a secular concert instrument. A generation ago, many children and youth were exposed to the instrument at church, and were inspired to take up organ studies and become professional church musicians. Now few young people attend church and most organ students discover the instrument in the concert setting or through online media like YouTube.’

Fairbank studied organ with Suzanne Gibson and Patrick Wedd in Vancouver, with Richard Popplewell in London (UK), and with Naji Hakim in Paris, France. He holds Associateship diplomas in organ performance from the Royal Conservatory (RCM gold medal 1981) and the RCCO (Willan Prize 1998), and Master’s degrees from UCSB (French), the Université de Paris VIII (musicology), and the University of Victoria (music composition). He is on the faculty of the Victoria Conservatory of Music, where he teaches organ and harpsichord. He is also a piano and organ examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music and an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre. As an organ recitalist he has performed across the country, in Europe and in Mexico.

Britten’s Friday Afternoons reborn in Centenary celebrations

17 September 2012

A highlight of next year’s Britten Centenary celebrations will be an Aldeburgh Music-sponsored nationwide singing project which aims to get 75,000 children in the UK to sing Britten’s music on 22 November 2013 – the exact centenary of his birth.

Composed between 1933 and 1935, Britten’s Friday Afternoons is a cycle of 12 songs composed by Britten for the school in Prestatyn, Wales, where his brother was headmaster. The composer’s nephew, Alan Britten, remarked: ‘You have to remember that in those days, my uncle was not the world famous musician we all known his as now, he was just the headmaster’s brother who was visiting.’ Featured recently in Wes Anderson’s film, Moonrise Kingdom, the music is easy to sing and is accompanied by witty piano parts.

Aldeburgh Music conceived the project to highlight Britten’s legacy of work for young people and to encourage more singing in schools – by coordinating with a network of venues, festivals, regional and national opera companies, and providing online resources for teachers through a dedicated website, the aim is to rekindle the spark of singing in schools across the country.


6 September 2012

Plans to slash £2.1 million from the budget for the BBC’s performing groups by 2016-17 seem likely to deprive the BBC Singers – the main supplier of live and specially recorded choral music to Radio 3 – of four of its members.


The cuts – equivalent to a 10 per cent reduction in total spending that will also affect the BBC’s five branded orchestras – have been announced by the corporation’s Head of Audio and Music Tim Davie following the publication of the Myerscough Report in June.

It is uncertain how much the BBC Singers can expect to lose from their existing annual budget of £1.8 million, but the threat of a further four redundancies following the recent loss of two members would see the critically acclaimed ensemble’s numbers reduced by a quarter over the past year to a cohort of just 18 singers.

Tim Davie described the planned reduction in spending as an opportunity to renew the ‘creative vision’ of the performing groups. Among the areas targeted for ‘savings and more efficient targeting and fine-tuning’ of resources by John Myerscough – a former parliamentary special advisor on the arts and author of the 1988 study ‘The Economic Importance of the Arts in Britain’ – are changes to the performing strengths of each organisation, changes to contractual arrangements, a pay freeze, and the sharing of administrative responsibilities.

The merger of the BBC Singers administration within the general management of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is ‘already under way’, added Davie.

As yet, there is no indication of how any reduction in monies made available to the BBC Singers would affect their performing commitments, repertoire choices, or their educational and outreach activities, which include working with young professional artists, composers and conductors.

The Report said the proposed level of cuts ‘should be achievable, but it will not be easy’.

Michael Quinn

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