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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

O come, all ye faithful

22 November 2013

Bishop Benson, first Bishop of Truro and initiator of Nine Lessons with Carols
Bishop Benson, first Bishop of Truro and initiator of Nine Lessons with Carols

On 17 December, Truro Cathedral will hold a service that reconstructs the first ever Nine Lessons with Carols. The format of Nine Lessons with Carols was an innovation by the 19th-century Bishop Benson, and the first service was held in Truro Cathedral at 10pm on Christmas Eve 1880 (the format was translated to King’s College, Cambridge – with which venue it is now most closely associated – in 1918). At that time, the Cathedral was a temporary wooden structure where services took place during the construction of the present Gothic Revival building. 

A copy of the original order of service survives and provides the framework for the 17 December event. However, the Cathedral explains that, given the changing congregational repertoire over the last 130 years, there will be a few differences so that ‘the end result … is a service people will attend, not an essay in a musicological journal. We have also considered the resources we have at our disposal today and attempted to integrate the 1880 service as seamlessly as possible with them.  Important among these is our cathedral choir, which still exists in its original form of boys and men.’   

The original service included the following items: The Lord at first had Adam made; Good Christian men, rejoice; The first Nowell; Once again, O blessed time; three movements from Handel’s Messiah; Bethlehem! of noblest cities; O come, all ye faithful; and a Magnificat.   Thanks to research by Richard Longman, the Cathedral says it is confident ‘that all of the items entitled “Carol” in the 1880 order of service were sung to music from Bramley and Stainer’s Christmas Carols, New and Old. Copies of this carol book are to be found alongside the 1880 order of service in Cornwall Record Office, stamped with “Truro Cathedral Choir”, and the collection contains all four of the carols used in 1880.’ 

The service on 17 December begins at 7pm; there will be a congregational rehearsal before the service begins to familiarise those attending with the slightly different versions of the hymns. www.trurocathedral.org.uk

Llandaff thins down

6 November 2013

 Jobs are at risk at Llandaff Cathedral as the Dean and Chapter seek ways to reduce an anticipated deficit of £81,000. It seems the Cathedral Choir is likely to be worst hit, as five lay clerks, a choral scholar and the assistant organist have been invited to participate in consultation meetings during the coming weeks; their redundancies could save the Cathedral nearly £50,000. The proposal is to maintain the boy choristers and to keep a budget to pay the adult singers on an occasional basis for weekends and special events, such as Advent and Christmas.

A spokesperson for the Cathedral said, ‘It is with a very heavy heart that we have taken the decision to put a number of roles in the Cathedral at risk of redundancy. However, we have a duty to be financially responsible and cannot run on a continuing deficit. We have considered all our options very carefully and feel these plans are the best way forward to enable us to save money while ensuring our choral tradition remains as good as it can be, and our music ministry has a secure future.’

The proposed cuts come only three years after the installation of the new £1.5m organ by Nicholson & Co.


Diaries from the Elgar family published

23 September 2013

Publisher Elgar Works has released the first in a series of volumes reproducing the diaries of the Elgar family. Edward  Elgar: Collected  Correspondence: Provincial Musician contains diary entries from 1857 to 1896, chronicling the lives of Elgar and his wife Alice before their wedding in 1889.

The book covers the period from Elgar’s life an instrument teacher to the first performance of ‘King Olaf’ using letters to and from the Elgar family, as well as contemporary sources. 

The book has been edited by Martin Bird, the editor of the Elgar Society Journal. Bird’s research catalogue comprises of 15,000 letters, reviews and articles. The next volume to be published in the Collected  Correspondence series will be An Elgarian Who’s Who, also complied by Martin Bird, expected for release in February 2014. 


Britten centenary marked with commemorative coin by Royal Mint

23 September 2013

A 50p coin commissioned by the Royal Mint to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten has been unveiled. The coin, designed by Tom Phillips CBE, will be released on 27 September – in time for the 100th anniversary on 22 November.

The commemorative coin will be available in gold proof, silver proof and uncirculated versions. Britten’s 50p marks the first time a composer has featured on a British coin.

Tom Phillips said: ‘What I wanted the coin to speak of was music. Thus the stave soon entered the design … and his name married well with the stave. The natural accompaniment with Britten’s passion for poetry as our preeminent composer of opera and song, was some kind of key quotation. 

‘The words which eventually suggested themselves, come from the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. What better clarion call for a musical anniversary could there be than “Blow, bugle, blow: set the wild echoes flying”?’

Royal Festival Hall organ back in place

23 September 2013

Nick Rochoski

The iconic organ pipe-façade which served as an atmospheric backdrop to Royal Festival Hall concerts for five decades has finally been unveiled in its restored glory. With all of the organ’s divisions now back in their rightful places, following reinstallation by the Durham-based organ builders Harrison & Harrison, the instrument, comprising 7,866 pipes, will now be tuned and voiced ahead of its planned reinauguration at the Centre’s Pull Out All The Stops organ festival, beginning on 18 March 2014. 

The first phase of the current project (one third of the organ), including the restoration and reinstallation of the Swell, Great fluework and Pedal Principal 32ft stop, was completed as part of the major transformation of the Royal Festival Hall, which reopened in June 2007; the second phase was installed during the summer of 2012 and included the Great reeds and most of the Pedal Organ. 

The full £2.3m required to restore and reinstall the instrument was raised thanks to a £950,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and donations of £1.3 million from the public. Southbank Centre’s chairman Rick Haythornthwaite and a team of cyclists finished their sponsored 24-hour ride from Durham to London on Sunday 21 July 2013, raising the final £100,000 to reach the campaign’s target. 

The Pull Out All The Stops festival begins with a gala concert on 18 March next year, and runs until June. 


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