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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.


Pull out all the stops

Latest News

Russian organist scores four-card trick at St Albans

18 July 2009

Konstantin Volostnov took first prize tonight, worth £6,000, in the Interpretation Competition at St Albans. The 29-year-old Russian impressed the jury with his fluid rendition of Bach's Prelude & Fugue in A minor BWV 543, his commanding performance of Reger's Fantasia & Fugue in D minor which exploited the full dynamic range of the instrument, and a scintillating interpretation of Perpetuum Mobile, written by contemporary Russian composer Daniyar Dianov specifically for him. Volostnov succeeded equally in winning over tonight's audience, earning him the Audience Prize of £500; he also took the first Peter Hurford Prize (£1,000) for the best performance of Bach in any round of the competition.  Lastly, his performance of Sacrificium, commissioned from John Casken specially for the competition, so impressed a member of the audience that the individual immediately approached festival artistic director David Titterington and offered prize money for it. Volostnov was overwhelmed by the accolades and said his winning the competition was very good for all Russian organists.

A highly convincing performance of 'God's Reward' from Job by fellow Czech composer Petr Eben helped Linda Sitkova to take second prize in the Interpretation Competition (£2,500). Also in the finals were Sarah Kim (Australia), whose Final from Vierne's Symphony no.3 had a sparkling vitality; and Balazs Szabo (Hungary), whose interpretation of Harpe de Marie by Jean-Louis Florentz was nothing short of gripping in its pacing and imaginative use of registration.

The Improvisation Competition was won by Jean-Baptiste Dupont, who joins the line of great French improvisers. His symphonic outworking of 3 themes set by Diana Burrell and Matthew Martin had structure and authority, and his fugal second movement won special admiration. This is the first year the prize money for the Improvisation Competition (£6,000) has matched that for Interpretation, a recognition of the uniqueness of the skills required in this particular discipline. The other two improvisation finalists were Jason Roberts (USA) and Ronny Krippner (Germany)

The final prize of the day, the Douglas May Award of £800, went to Peter Kovats (Hungary) for the best performance of any single piece by a non-prize winner; he was given the award for his performance of Tournemire's Deuxième Fresque Symphonique Sacrée, op.76.

www.organfestival.com

A new organ for Keble College, Oxford

7 July 2009

Kenneth Tickell has signed a contract to build a new organ for Keble College, Oxford.

The college chapel, which houses the original of Holman Hunt’s famous painting The Light of the World, has used an electronic instrument since 1992, after the original William Hill organ fell into serious disrepair. In keeping with its surroundings, Tickell’s new instrument will embrace a Victorian ethos and will incorporate the Hill’s prospect pipes, thought to have been stencilled by the chapel’s architect, William Butterfield.

The new 4-manual tracker organ is planned for completion by Easter 2011, in time for the college’s big festival on St Mark’s Day (25 April), John Keble’s birthday and the anniversary of the opening of the chapel in 1876.

www.tickell-organs.co.uk

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
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.


www.alkmaarorgelstad.nl

Commanding recognition

15 June 2009

Simon Preston is awarded a CBE
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
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.

www.thsh.co.uk/page/symphony-hall-birmingham

 


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