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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

Calling all composers! Choir & Organ launches two composition workshops for September 2015.

17 June 2015

Chris Christodoulou

Craig Ogden

The two workshops, run in partnership with the BBC Singers and the Royal College of Organists, will be run by Master of the Queen’s Music, Judith Weir CBE, organist Thomas Trotter, and the BBC Singers.

Both workshops will be open to the public and composers are invited to submit compositions to be workshopped. Observers should book their free ticket online.


1 September 2015, BBC Maida Vale Studio 2, London W9, 2-5pm | Tickets: FREE

Choir & Organ’s 2015 New Music partners, the BBC Singers, conducted by Matthew Hamilton, will workshop up to 6 choral compositions, pre-selected by Judith Weir and Michael Emery, BBC Singers Senior Producer, who will offer constructive feedback to the composers.

Visit www.rhinegold.co.uk/workshops for full criteria and submission guidelines. 

10 September 2015, St George’s Hanover Square, London W1, 2-5pm | Tickets: FREE | In partnership with the Royal College of Organists

Judith Weir and Thomas Trotter will workshop up to 6 pre-selected organ compositions, and will draw on other works submitted, all played on the church’s fine Richards, Fowkes organ. Constructive feedback will be offered to the composers.

Visit www.rhinegold.co.uk/workshops for full criteria and submission guidelines. 

Deadline for submissions for both workshops: 31 July 2015

Classical musicians recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015

16 June 2015, Katy Wright

Sir James MacMillan
Sir James MacMillanPhilip Gatward

James MacMillan, Karl Jenkins and Simon Halsey are among the classical musicians to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2015.

MacMillan, who was made a CBE in 2004, has received a knighthood for services to music. The composer, conductor and festival director considers his Scottish roots to be of great importance; the first Cumnock Tryst festival took place in his Ayrshire home town last year, and his works bear the influence of Gaelic folk music.

MacMillan said: ‘I am totally delighted to receive this honour. I am especially pleased that the world of music, and contemporary composition in particular, will receive greater focus and recognition as a result. I feel encouraged and re-energised in my commitments in these fields and especially in my work with the new festival in Ayrshire, the Cumnock Tryst.’

Karl Jenkins also received a knighthood for services to composing and crossing musical genres. Jenkins, famous for popular works including The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace and Adiemus, is the first Welsh-born composer to be honoured at this level. He said: ‘I am delighted by this great honour and the recognition of my music, and am grateful and humbled that my works have been able to reach out to so many performers and listeners around the globe.’

Just weeks after he was named conductor laureate of the Berlin Radio Choir, choral conductor Simon Halsey received a CBE. In response to the news, Halsey wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter: ‘Thank you to all the dedicated choristers without whom a choir conductor is entirely pointless!’

Halsey took up the position of choral director of the London Symphony Orchestra and its chorus in August 2013. He plans to make the LSO chorus ‘the best in London’, as well as developing a community and youth chorus in partnership with a number of boroughs around the LSO’s Barbican base.

Other classical musicians to receive recognition include Sir Neville Marriner, who was made a Companion of Honour; opera director Jonathan Kent, who received a CBE; and violinist Michael Bochmann, who was made an MBE.  

Andrew Wyatt appointed assistant organist at Chester

9 June 2015, Katy Wright

Andrew Wyatt
Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt is to join the music department at Chester Cathedral as assistant organist. He will accompany services, conduct the cathedral choir and cathedral nave choir and assist with training the choristers.

He will work alongside Philip Rushforth and Benjamin Chewter at he cathedral, which has one of the longest running organ recital series outside London.

Wyatt studied organ with Henry Fairs at Birmingham Conservatoire, holding the position of organ scholar at Birmingham Cathedral while a student before taking up the same post at Canterbury Cathedral in October 2011. He comes to Chester from Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, where he was appointed assistant organist in 2012.

He said of the appointment: 'I travelled widely as part of a parish choir when I was a child and my favourite venue was always Chester Cathedral.  It stayed in my mind and when the opportunity arose at Chester, I knew it was right for me.'

Wyatt will take up the post in June 2015.

Chester Cathedral

Review: James O'Donnell at Douai Abbey, Sunday 7 June

8 June 2015

James O'Donnell outside Douai Abbey
James O'Donnell outside Douai AbbeyCiaran Morton

The organ at Douai Abbey
The organ at Douai AbbeyKenneth Tickell

by Ciaran Morton

Friends and supporters of the Nicholas Danby Trust were taken on a musical journey spanning four centuries in the contemplative setting of Douai Abbey. The unadorned beauty of the vaunted ceiling provided wonderful acoustics and a plain canvas upon which the music could provide shape and colour. The first three pieces were played on the Tamburini organ, a one-manual choir organ in the Italian style which showcased O’Donnell’s precise fingering in Frescobaldi’s Toccata prima. Purcell’s Voluntary in G was followed by a lively rendition of Toccata settima by Michelangelo Rossi.

O’Donnell then crossed the chancel to play on the three manual Tickell organ opening with the J.S. Bach Prelude & Fugue in D major. The location of the organ and the proximity of the audience gave a wonderful view of dextrous footwork required by the opening pedal scale. 

Prelude, fugue et variation by César Franck delivered a change of mood that was built upon by two pieces from Jehan Alain (Deuxième fantaisie and Litanies), rendered with a tangible emotional intensity by O’Donnell. A reflective Adagio in E by Frank Bridge provided a contrast to a vigorous and powerful delivery of Paean by Herbert Howells, with a major chord conclusion that showcased the rich tones of the Tickell.

Douai Abbey’s original French location was famously visited by Couperin, so it was fitting that an encore from him provided an opportunity for calm reflection and repose at the culmination of an engaging and brilliantly executed programme by O’Donnell.

James O’Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey

The Nicholas Danby Trust offers a major European postgraduate scholarship and undergraduate bursaries to young organists of exceptional promise.

Bertie Baigent wins Stainer & Bell composition competition

1 June 2015, Katy Wright

Bertie Baigent
Bertie Baigent

Bertie Baigent has won the 2015 Stainer & Bell award for choral competition for his SATB setting of Christina Rossetti's An Echo from Willow-Wood. He receives an award of £500 and the publication of the work in Stainer & Bell's digital choral series, Choral Now.

Baiger is currently in his second year reading music at Jesus College, Cambridge where he holds the position of organ scholar. His works have won a number of prizes, and have been performed by Britten Sinfonia, Fretwork, the Aurora Orchestra, and the Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge in venues including the Royal Festival Hall and Snape Maltings. In Memoriam In Nomine won the National Centre for Early Music's Young Composers' Award 2011, and was described by Michael Church (The Independent) as 'an exquisite essay in post-Bartókian harmonies and textures’. He studies with Patrick Nunn.

Runner-up Rhiannon Randle, who set the same poem under the title On Life's Dividing Sea, will receive the offer of publication for her entry. Randle is currently studying for her M.Phil. in composition at Girton College, Cambridge.

Stainer & Bell said that the 2015 competitors were 'a strong field that has proved a ringing endorsement of the talent of a new generation of choral composers, refreshing a uniquely British genre of which S&B are proud to represent six centuries of national achievement.'

Stainer & Bell

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