Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

November/December 2015 on sale now

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.

Give the gift of a magazine this Christmas!

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

Latest News

Pipe Up sessions for Key Stage 2 pupils

19 November 2015

Key Stage 2 pupils can find out about the inner workings of the organ in Pipe Up sessions at the Royal Festival Hall.

They will learn about stops, bellows, pedals and pipes as they work together to build a DIY organ kit.

The workshop will cover the science and engineering behind the instrument - with links to the Science of Sound curriculum - and will pupils' develop teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills.

Pupils will take part in a 90-minute workshop and will visit the Royal Festival Hall in order to learn about the acoustics inside before enjoying an interactive recital.

The sessions take place on 12 January and 1 March 2016. The workshop and Royal Festival Hall visit will cost £230 for two classes.

Pipe Up schools

Three Choirs appoints new chief executive

18 November 2015

Alexis Paterson
Alexis PatersonAntony Thompson, ThousandWordMedia

The Three Choirs Festival Association has appointed Alexis Paterson as its new chief executive. She will take up the position in mid-January 2016, succeeding Dominic Jewel (who will become managing director of the National Children's Orchestras of Great Britain in December 2015).

Paterson will join the Three Choirs Festival from Cheltenham Festivals, where she has been manager of the music festival since January 2011. She previously worked on the concert management team of the Presteigne Festival and for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as education assistant and coordinator for the Kokoro contemporary music ensemble.

Describing herself as 'delighted', Paterson said: ‘I want to make sure that people far and wide continue to regard the Three Choirs Festival to be as important, as inspiring and as relevant as ever. With a growing body of evidence showing the social, mental and physical health benefits of singing in a choir, there has never been a better time to dedicate ourselves to fostering the audiences and music-makers of the future and nurturing and valuing those we already have.

Three Choirs Festival chairman Dr Timothy Brain said: ‘From a very strong field of candidates, Alexis Paterson impressed us with her wide experience of festival management, her business skills, the breadth and depth of her musical knowledge and her enthusiasm for the arts and for bringing the festival experience into the community. I am delighted that we are appointing her to lead the administration of the Three Choirs Festival and look forward to working with her when she takes up the post in the New Year.’

The 289th Three Choirs Festival takes place in Gloucester between 23 and 30 July 2016.

Three Choirs Festival

Churches to bless ChoralEvensong.org

17 November 2015

ChoralEvensong.org will be blessed by the Churches of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on 22 November.

The blessing will involve the Deans of Westminster Abbey (England), Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Ireland), St. David’s Cathedral (Wales), St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (Scotland), and the Canon of Westminster Cathedral (since the website also includes Roman Catholic Vespers services).

Many other churches and cathedrals will also be taking part; some will light a candle in front of a laptop with the new website running, while others will say a specially written prayer.

Created by Dr Guy Hayward (a former choral scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge), the website will offer a location search to Choral Evensong services across Britain and Ireland.

Choral Evensong takes place in more than 350 churches and cathedrals across Britain each Sunday, but the numbers attending these services have been in decline over the past 50 years. 

The blessing is intended to show that anybody is welcome to the services.

Hayward hopes that the website will encourage more people to attend services. 'Choral Evensong offers everyone a free moment of inspiration, a chance to reflect on beauty in the gap between a day’s work and dinner. It is the most accessible service, because the music is so uplifting and there is little liturgy. In London alone, every day of the week at 5pm, one can enter Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral free of charge and listen to world-class music for 45 minutes.

'We really hope this website will make Choral Evensong accessible for more people.'

The Very Rev Philip Buckler, Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, said: 'I am delighted that the "gift" of Choral Evensong is now to be made more widely known. For it is also a gift freely offered to all who care to join in that worship and find inspiration in the great tradition of English Church Music which continues to flourish from generation to generation.'

ChoralEvensong.org is supported by Hampstead Church Music Trust and endorsed by the Royal School of Church Music.


Sansara give the premiere of Cheryl Frances-Hoad's Christmas carol

16 November 2015

Vocal ensemble Sansara has given the world premiere of Cheryl Frances-Hoad's 'Good Day, Sir Christemas!', a Christmas carol commissioned by BBC Music Magazine.

The magazine is inviting choirs to share their own performances of the carol. The sheet music is included in the Christmas issue (out 18 November).

Cheryl Frances-Hoad is a former Choir & Organ New Music composer, while Sansara will appear in the Mar/Apr 2016 issue of the magazine.

'Good Day, Sir Christemas!' by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, performed by Sansara

RCM to digitise UK’s music instrument collections

12 November 2015, Coriander Stuttard

When the doors to the Royal College of Music’s Museum temporarily close to the public for the building developments announced earlier this year, its curators will begin a project to digitise the entire musical instrument collection held in the UK, bringing the accessibility of the collections up to date with a more technology-focused audience.

Thanks to a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council’s Catalyst Fund, the Royal College of Music in partnership with the Royal Academy of Music, the Horniman Museum and University of Edinburgh will deliver a cutting edge, multi media platform to explore the 40,000 fine and rare instruments housed in over 100 collections in the UK which otherwise stay tucked away, many out of public sight.

An important collaboration with Google Cultural Institute will ensure the virtual collection is set to reach the widest public audience. Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, curator of the RCM’s Museum of Music explains, ‘it is tremendously exciting to work with Google to enable so many people to connect with these beautiful and fascinating objects in a myriad of new ways.’ He elaborates, ‘to give an example – you could be walking in Hyde Park and through your phone you could discover that you can see the earliest surviving string keyboard instrument nearby.  You could listen to it, read about it – and then go and see it!’

The MINIM-UK (Musical Instrument Interface for Museums and collections) is the first complete UK digitised database and Rossi Rognoni explains that it is an important way of preserving the wonderful treasures which are ‘part of our national heritage.’ The collections across the UK span every type of instrument – from the ‘Viotti ex-Bruce’ violin, made by Stradivarius in 1709, to a pair of bone clappers in the form of human hands made in Egypt around 3,500 years ago or the world’s only octave contrabass serpent – and users will be able to listen to samples of many as well as seeing a visual image with information to read.  

MINIM-UK will share data with a European commission funded project MIMO and with Europeana, joining the UK’s collection to the wealth of cultural exhibits across Europe and providing a strong multi-media platform to engage, educate these special collections. It is expected to be completed in Autumn 2017.

In early December, the Royal College of Music Museum, in partnership with Google Cultural Institute, launches a virtual exhibition of some of the non-instrument aspects of its collection such as its sculptures, photos, prints and paintings, including a famous portrait of Joseph Haydn painted by Thomas Hardy in London in 1791.

Putting these exhibits in the public eye while the museum is closed for development, curator Rossi Rognoni explains: ‘thanks to the wonders of modern technology we have so many ways to allow people to explore all of our treasures before we re-open at the heart of a transformed Royal College of Music in 2018.’

Royal College of Music Museum

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