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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.

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

Latest News

Distinguished musicians recognised by the Royal College of Organists

15 January 2015

Professor Edward Higginbottom
Professor Edward Higginbottom

Dr Ludger Lohmann
Dr Ludger Lohmann

Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite
Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite

Three eminent musicians are to be awarded the RCO Medal, the Royal College of Organists’ highest honour.

Professor Edward Higginbottom, former director of music at New College, Oxford, receives the Medal in recognition of his distinguished achievements in choral conducting and organ- and choral-related scholarship; the renowned organ professor Dr Ludger Lohmann for his distinguished achievements in organ playing, teaching and scholarship; and Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite, in recognition of his distinguished achievement in organ scholarship, specifically his research on the history of organ building in the UK.

The RCO Medals will be presented at the College’s Conferment of Diplomas at Southwark Cathedral on 14 March this year.

The RCO Medal was first awarded in 2012 and recognises distinguished achievement in one or more of the following areas relating to organ and choral music: performance, teaching, scholarship, composition, organ building, conducting, administration, and philanthropy; it is also available to recognise specific service to the College.

Full report in the March/April 2015 issue of Choir & Organ.

New Year honours for Anne Marsden Thomas and Jeffrey Skidmore

6 January 2015

Anne Marsden Thomas has been awarded an MBE (for services to organ music) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Marsden Thomas founded the St Giles International Organ School in 1992, which subsequently teamed up with the Royal College of Organists to become the RCO Academy Organ School. In the 23 years since its founding, thousands of organists of all ages and ability levels have received training at the School, which has gained an international reputation, with centres across the UK, summer courses, workshops and individual teaching.

Marsden Thomas also teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, and has published books and articles on organ teaching, most recently Pedalling for Organists (Cramer Music £15.90) and the Oxford Bach Books for Organ (OUP books 1-3, £8.95-£10.95 per volume).

Other titles presented in 2015’s New Year honours list include CBEs for chief executive of Aldeburgh Music and former controller of BBC Radio 3 Roger Wright and the Southbank Centre’s artistic director Jude Kelly, and an OBE for Jeffrey Skidmore, founder-conductor of Birmingham-based chamber choir Ex Cathedra.

Skidmore said: ‘It is a great personal honour for me to receive this award. It is also a tribute to the many groups and institutions I have worked with over a long period of time and in particular Ex Cathedra.’

Dutch conductor Gijs Leenaars appointed principal conductor of Berlin Radio Choir

14 November 2014

New appointment for Gijs Leenaars
New appointment for Gijs LeenaarsHans van der Woerd

Gijs Leenaars is to succeed Simon Halsey as principal conductor and artistic director of Berlin Radio Choir in August next year. The 36-year-old Dutch conductor has been offered a five-year contract. 

Leenaars has been principal conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir since 2012. He is a regular guest conductor of the Collegium Vocale of Ghent, Cappella Amsterdam and Netherlands Chamber Choir. He said of the news: ‘I look forward to our collaboration with great joy and excitement. Rundfunkchor Berlin possesses the large, rich sound demanded by the symphonic choral repertoire while also singing with the utmost in chamber-musical responsibility. For me these special qualities represent both a commitment and a challenge to continue the artistic development of this exceptional ensemble.’ Leenaars will open of Berlin Radio Choir’s 2015/16 season at Musikfest Berlin with an a cappella concert. 

Chorus board member Nora von Billerbeck said of Leenaars’ appointment: ‘We are eagerly looking forward to Gijs Leenaars, one of the outstanding choral conductors of the younger generation. His extraordinary musicality, his unconditional striving for perfection and his wit quickly stoke the spark.’ 
Hans-Hermann Rehberg, chorus managing director, described Leeanaars as a ‘powerful and passionate musical personality’, saying ‘We look forward to a new phase of collaboration in the ensemble’s artistic and programmatic development.’

Outgoing Simon Halsey will continue to work with Berlin Radio Choir as conductor laureate, an honorary title created for the conductor to recognise his outstanding achievements with the ensemble. An official farewell sing-along concert at the Berlin Philharmonie will take place for Halsey on 31 May 2015. 

British winners at the 2014 Canadian International Organ Competition

14 November 2014

Grand Prize winner David Baskeyfield
Grand Prize winner David BaskeyfieldGeorge Liberman

Two British organists took by storm the Canadian International Organ Competition, the finals of which were held in Montreal in October.

David Baskeyfield (30) won the Grand Prize at the Canadian International Organ Competition 2014; he also took the Royal Canadian College of Organists Prize for the best performance of a piece by a Canadian composer, and the Richard-Bradshaw Audience Prize. His final round programme included works by Mozart, Willan, Isoir, Alain and Widor, performed on the IV/90 Casavant organ in Notre Dame Basilica.

Andrew Dewar (32) took second prize and the Bach Prize. Both Baskeyfield and Dewar are past winners of St Albans International Organ Festival, in 2011 and 2005 (respectively). Third place went to Daria Burlak (27), from Russia.

The competition was adjudicated by an international jury chaired by John Grew (Canada), accompanied by Jacques Boucher (Canada), James David Christie (USA), Stefan Engels (Germany), Janette Fishell (USA), Marnie Giesbrecht (Canada), Olivier Latry (France), Pier Damiano Peretti (Italy and Austria), and Dame Gillian Weir (UK).

The final round was recorded by ICI Musique and highlights were broadcast nationally on 23 October All  competition rounds can be listened to at cbcmusic.ca/CIOC.


College organist and senior lecturer of KCL David Trendell dies

14 November 2014

The classical music world was shocked by the death in October of David Trendell, College Organist, director of the Chapel Choir, and a senior lecturer in music at King’s College, London.

Born in 1964, Trendell was first a chorister, then an alto choral scholar, at Norwich Cathedral. Following a period as organ scholar at Exeter College, Oxford, he became assistant organist at Winchester College and directed the Edington Festival of church music for four years. Moving to Oxford in 1989, he was organist of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, and tutor at three colleges. In 1992 he moved to King’s College, University of London, where among other responsibilities he was responsible for Chapel music, strengthening the choir and taking them on regular tours in Europe, the US and Asia, as well as recording a series of CDs with them, most recently of Desenclos and Poulenc (see Choir & Organ, March/April 2014). He also held choirmaster posts at St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, followed by St Mary’s, Bourne Street.

David Trendell died of a brain haemorrhage on 28 October.

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