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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

300-mile cycle ride completes Festival Hall organcampaign

23 July 2013

The team arrive at Royal Festival Hall
The team arrive at Royal Festival HallBelinda Lawley

The remaining £100,000 has now been raised in the Pull Out All The Stops campaign to restore the Royal Festival Hall organ. The final stretch of the fundraising campaign was led by Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of Southbank Centre, who with a team of six cyclists took part in a sponsored 24-hour bike ride from Durham to London on 20-21 July 2013. This brings the total amount raised in the campaign to its target of £2.3m.

‘We have been pushed to the brink on this ride both physically and mentally but the team’s determination to complete the challenge remained undiluted and we are delighted to have arrived at the Royal Festival Hall today,’ said Mr Haythornthwaite. ‘We are tired and a little sore, but thrilled that we have done our bit to bridge the gap in funding and reach the £2.3m target for this wonderful cause.’

Supporting Mr Haythornthwaite was James Cash, a personal trainer and member of the Phoenix Fitness Group; Rick Grogan, chairman and chief executive of Golf Entertainment International – a sports and entertainment business; James Helliwell, lawyer at Locke Lord; Nick Sharpe, European head of product control at MF Global; and Simon Thompson, managing partner at Relish market research agency.

The team set off from the Harrison & Harrison organ building workshop in Durham at noon on 20 July, carrying with them one of the final pipes to be installed in the Royal Festal Hall, and arrived at their destination at 11:58am on 21 July, having covered 300 miles in just under 24 hours.

Alan Bishop, chief executive of Southbank Centre, said: ‘Rick and his team have achieved something remarkable in completing this gruelling challenge and we are extremely grateful to them all for going the extra 300 miles to raise funds for the Royal Festival Hall organ. They have raised a staggering amount of money, with donations still coming in, and we are thrilled to have reached our final target to bring this iconic instrument back to life.’

Launched in September 2010, Pull Out All The Stops has raised over £1.3m in funds in public donations. The Heritage Lottery Fund also awarded £950,000 to reinstall the remaining two thirds of the organ, which has almost 5,000 pipes. All future donations will go to the continuing long-term maintenance and tuning of the instrument.

Hannah Beynon


St Albans International Organ Competitions winners

20 July 2013

After a hotly contested final round of the Interpretation Competition, it was 11pm before the winners of the St Albans International Organ Competitions were announced last night.

Taking the Interpretation First Prize and Gold Medal was Simon Thomas Jacobs (UK), a former organ scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied with David Sanger with additional lessons from Jacques van Oortmerssen in Amsterdam. He is now based in the US as fellow in sacred music at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis. Jacobs was also awarded the Audience Prize for the most enjoyable performance in the Interpretation Final according to those listening.

Second prize in the Interpretation Competition was shared between Anna-Victoria Baltrusch (Germany) and Benjamin Sheen (UK).

The Improvisation Competition was won by Martin Sturm (Germany), an organist, pianist, conductor and composer from Regensburg. Martin had impressed the 2011 judges in 2011 with his originality of approach to improvisation, and his return to St Albans this year earned him the much sought after Tournemire Prize.

The Peter Hurford Bach Prize, for the best performance of JS Bach in any round of the competition, was won by Jihoon Song (South Korea).

The Jon Laukvik Prize, for the best performance of Laukvik's commissioned work Aria, Fugue & Final, was awarded to Benjamin Sheen (UK).

The Douglas May Award, for the best performance of a competition work in either the Quarter- or Semi-final rounds of either competition, was won by David Cassan (France), who had made it through to the Finals of the Improvisation Competition.

The Prizewinners Concert will be held at 11.30am this morning, and will include the premiere (by James McVinnie) of David J. Loxley-Blount's Sonus Repercussus, which won the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2013, held in partnership with St Albans International Organ Festival.


St Albans International Organ Festival finalists 

18 July 2013

The final rounds will take place at St Albans Cathedral

After two days of intensive semi-finals, the following are through to the final round of the organ competition at St Albans International Organ Festival:

Improvisation: David Baskeyfield (UK), David Cassan (France) Samuel Liégeon (France), Martin Sturm (Germany).

Interpretation: Anna-Victoria Baltrusch (Germany), Simon Thomas Jacobs (UK), Seon-A Mun (South Korea), Benjamin Sheen (UK).

The final rounds take place in St Albans Cathedral tomorrow, Friday 19 July. 


Turnage cantata premiere in City of Culture

2 July 2013

The organ of the restored Derry-Londonderry Guildhall
The organ of the restored Derry-Londonderry Guildhall

The first performance of the Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture classical season took place on 2 July – the world premiere of At Sixes and Sevens, a newly-commissioned cantata performed concurrently in the two Guildhalls of London and Derry-Londonderry.

The cantata consists of nine movements written by the Pulitzer-Prize winning Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon and the composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

The work – the first to be performed in the newly reopened Derry-Londonderry Guildhall following a £9.5m restoration – was interspersed with further sections devised by communities in Derry-Londonderry and London. At Sixes and Sevens was performed by Camerata Ireland, the London Symphony Orchestra, soloists, choirs and specially commissioned community ensembles.

The Guildhall restoration included work on the display pipes of the 1914 William Hill organ, which now feature 23-carat Italian gold leaf and an acorn design.

Graeme Kay

Michael Brewer stripped of OBE

30 May 2013

Michael Brewer, former director of music at Chetham's School of Music and the National Youth Choir, has been stripped of his Order of the British Empire (OBE).

In March, Brewer was jailed for abusing a Chetham's pupil, Frances Andrade, from the age of 14, between 1978 and 82; Ms Andrade killed herself after giving evidence at his trial at Manchester Crown Court.

In a separate development, it has been announced that Brewer is to seek leave to appeal against the length of his six-year sentence. The application will be considered by the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with two other judges, on 12 June.

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