Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

September/October 2015 on sale from 28 August

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

DG makes first recording in the Sistine Chapel

8 September 2015

Sistine Chapel Choir and Massimo Palombella
Sistine Chapel Choir and Massimo PalombellaBurkhard Bartsch © Governatorato SCV - Direzione dei Musei

The Vatican has permitted the first ever recording in the Sistine Chapel.

Cantate Domino, the Sistine Chapel Choir’s debut recording, will be released on Deutsche Grammophon on 25 September 2015.

The album features music written for the Sistine Chapel Choir by Palestrina, Lassus and Victoria. It also includes two pieces of Gregorian chant and the world premiere recordings of the 1661 Sistine Codex version of Allegri’s Miserere and a Nunc dimittis attributed to Palestrina which is still used during papal celebrations.

Deutsche Grammophon set up a special studio within the chapel. The mixing desk was set up in an ante-chamber, next to the Sala del Pianto (where the newly elected cardinal is first dressed as Pope). Producer Anna Barry described it as an ‘overwhelming privilege’ to be among Michelangelo’s frescoes.

Choir director Massimo Palombella said: ‘The music we have recorded was created for papal celebrations in the Sistine Chapel and by composers who wrote specifically for the Sistine Chapel Choir. The Sistine Chapel was consecrated in 1483 and has been home to the papal choir ever since. After an intensive period of study and scholarship of the sacred music in the Renaissance and its aesthetic pertinence, we have arrived at the point of making the first commercial recording, in this remarkable building, with this prestigious label.’

Pope Francis will receive the first copy of the disc.

Cantate Domino

Friends of Cathedral Music appoints new president

7 September 2015

Stephen Cleobury
Stephen CleoburyNick Rutter

The Friends of Cathedral Music (FCM) has announced Stephen Cleobury as its new president. He is to take over from Christopher Robinson, who is retiring, as the organisation celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2016.

Cleobury has been closely connected with cathedral music since he was a chorister at Worcester Cathedral in 1958. He held positions as organ scholar at St John's College, Cambridge and sub-organist of Westminster Abbey before becoming master of music at Westminster Cathedral in 1979. He became director of music at King’s College, Cambridge in 1982, and was president of the Royal College of Organists from 1990-1992.

The president-elect said that he was honoured to be linked with FCM, describing it as ‘an organisation which does so much wonderful work to support music in our cathedrals, churches and colleges at a time when there are increasing financial pressures on choral foundations.’

FCM chairman Peter Toyne said: ‘I am delighted that we have yet another internationally renowned and respected musician as our next president, and equally pleased that Christopher Robinson, who has been our inspirational president for the last twelve years, will continue to take an active interest in furthering the future development of our essential mission in safeguarding the priceless heritage that is cathedral music.’

Friends of Cathedral Music

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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