Bart Jacobs wins International Schnitger Organ Competition 2009
27 June 2009
Finalists in the International Schnitger Organ Competition 2009 played the famous Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger instrument in Grote St Laurenskerk, Alkmaar
Bart Jacobs took first prize last night in the International Schnitger Organ Competition in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.
The young Belgian made a clear impression on audience and judges in the first round of the competition on 19 June with a programme of Bach played on the famous Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ in St Laurens Church. In the second round, on 23 June, he gave a sparkling performance of Sweelinck on the church's 16th-century Van Covelens organ, conveying an evident understanding of structure that eluded some of the other five semi-finalists. Around 130 people gathered to hear the finals last night, as the three competitors who had made it thus far - Bart Jacobs, David Boos (Austria) and Michael Unger (USA) - played a programme of Bach's Passacaglia in C minor BWV582 and a Trio Sonata of choice from BWV525-530, again on the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ.
Jacobs commented afterwards that the thing he most enjoyed about the competition was the Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ: 'It’s unique in the world and I’ve never played it before. But I feel that it is my instrument now. It’s an incredible experience, because in Belgium there are no such instruments, so the opportunity to play these organs is important for me - although winning is very nice too!’
Jacobs takes a prize of Euro 5,000; second prize of Euro 2,500 and the audience prize was awarded to Unger, and Boos took the third prize of Euro 1,000. All three finalists go forward to the 2011 Grand Prix d'ECHO competition, organised in conjunction with ECHO partners, Freiberg (Germany) and Innsbruck (Austria), to mark the 500th birthday of the Van Covelens organ.
15 June 2009
Simon Preston is awarded a CBE
Dr Stephen Cleobury, director of music at King's College, Cambridge, and international organist Simon Preston have received CBEs in the Queen's birthday honours.
MBEs were awarded to Gillian Dibden, for services to youth choral music in Berkshire; Glyn Hughes, musical director of the Brymbo Male Choir, for services to music and to charity in North Wales; composer Brian Irvine and Thomas Kerr, both for services to music in Northern Ireland; Mary Parry, for services to the performing arts and to charity in North Wales; John Powell, head of music and performing arts at Davenant Foundation School in, Loughton, Essex, for services to education; and Helen Watkins-Snart, for voluntary service to the Croydon Music Festival.
Young Russian wins Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2009
8 June 2009
Young Russian Katya Kulkova wins Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2009
The winner of the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2009 is Katya Kulkova from Moscow.
Katya’s work Stalactites beat 18 other entries from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Israel, Italy, Germany, France, UK and USA. Jury member Judith Bingham commented, ‘I liked Stalactites for two main reasons: it was harmonically interesting and consistent (in other words, there was a personal harmonic language that was engaging and not predictable); and it had a coherent and convincing formal structure that was skilful and impressive.’ Birmingham City Organist Thomas Trotter, who was also on the jury, said, ‘The music is written in a very clear, direct way, and the character of the music leaves no doubt in the performer's mind as to how the composer wishes it to sound. This composer knows what they want to say, and it's said in an eloquent and imaginitive way.'
Katya Kulkova is interviewed in the September/October 2009 issue of Choir & Organ. Thomas Trotter will give the premiere of Stalactites in Symphony Hall, Birmingham on 2 November 2009.
Bach marathon in France
8 June 2009
Five organists will play the complete organ works of J.S. Bach in a ten-month programme split between Paris and Toulouse. Beginning on 13 September, Francis Jacob, Bernard Foccroulle, Jan Willen Jansen, Michel Bouvard and Benjamin Alard will give a monthly Sunday recital in the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse, and will repeat it the following Tuesday on the recent Aubertin organ in Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile in Paris. Bach’s works have been grouped together by themes such as ‘Passion and Crucifixion’, ‘In the light of Easter’ and ‘Bach as architect’.
The second recital, on 18 October, concludes the international organ festival Toulouse les Orgues, whose 2009 programme takes the twin themes of homage to the past and movement into the future. ‘Movement’ will be represented literally, as Paris Opéra ballerina Marie-Agnès Gillot performs in Saint-Etienne during the festival’s opening event on 7 October. Anniversaries of Handel and Haydn are of course remembered; more unusual is a recognition of 20 years after the fall of the Berlin wall; and the achievements of Louis Braille, whose alphabet by touch continues to transform so many lives 200 years after his birth, are celebrated in a performance by Marie-Ange and Eric Lebrun of works by blind organists. The Choeur du Capitale de Toulouse makes its festival debut under its new conductor Alfonso Calani, and Les Sacqueboutiers perform Schütz madrigals and Seven Last Words. Alongside the Toulouse programme are excursions to hear organs in the region.
Complete Organ Works of J.S. Bach
Musée des Augustins, Toulouse and Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile, Paris, 13 September 2009 to 15 June 2010
Tickets: 15 euros (10 euros); season ticket: 100 euros
14th International Festival Toulouse les Orgues
7–18 October, Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrénées region of France
Contact +33 (0)5 61 33 76 87, firstname.lastname@example.org
Choruses are good for you: official
2 June 2009
Cheerful: Oklahoma's Canterbury Choral Society
Choral singing is the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children in America.
That is one of the findings of a new report from Chorus America, which found that an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses in the US, up from 23.5 million estimated in 2003. When children are included, there are 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses in 2009. More than one in five households have at least one singing family member.
The study also draws links between choral singing and success in life, stating that greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble.
Among the findings were that choral singers donate 2.5 times more money to philanthropic organisations than the general public; 96% of choral singers surveyed who are eligible voters said they vote regularly in national and local elections, compared with 70% of the general public; and choral singers are at least two times more likely to attend theatre, opera, and orchestra.
Looking at children in choruses, the report said that 71% of parents with singing children felt that the children had become more self-confident; 90% of educators believe singing in a choir can keep some students engaged in school who might otherwise be lost; and children who participate in a chorus get significantly better grades than children who have never sung in a choir – 45% of parents whose children sing state their child receives 'all or mostly A's' in mathematics (compared with 38% of non-choir parents) and 54% get 'all or mostly A's' in English and other language arts classes (43%).
Chorus America chairman Todd Estabrook said: 'The data in this report suggests that it would be a mistake not to leverage the benefits that choruses bring to children, adults, and the communities they serve. Simply put, if you’re searching for a group of talented, engaged, and generous community members, you would do well to start with a chorus.'
The full report and an executive summary are available online at www.chorusamerica.org.