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Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

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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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Latest News

First US organ to be built in London

21 August 2009

Richards, Fowkes & Co. have signed a contract to build a new organ for St George's, Hanover Square, in London. The Tennessee-based company, which is only 20 years old, has the distinction of being the first US company to provide an organ in London. The new 3-manual and pedal instrument will be placed inside the historic case, first built in 1726 and later enlarged in the 19th century.

Ralph Richards said he was 'thrilled and honoured' to be awarded the contract in a church of such distinction. The building was designed by John James, an assistant to Christopher Wren, and houses carvings by Grinling Gibbons, a 1724 painting by William Kent, and front windows dating from 1525 by Arnold of Nijmegen. George Frederic Handel was a parishioner for 35 years.

www.richardsfowkes.com

Competition news

4 August 2009

The Westphalian Organ Competition 2009 – Improvisation runs on 12–14 Nov in Altstädter Nikolaikirche in Bielefeld, Germany. For organists born after 31 December 1971. www.westfaelischer-orgelwettbewerb.de
Deadline: 31 August

The RSCM is calling for submissions for its 2009 Harold Smart Composition Competition. The theme is anthems, under five minutes, for children’s choirs. www.rscm.com/publications/haroldsmart.php
Deadline: 1 October

Details and deadlines for Musica Mundi choral competitions can be found at www.interkultur.com.

Upcoming competitions include the International Organ Competition ‘Organ Without Borders’, on 31 Aug–4 Sep in Luxembourg (www.orgue-dudelange.lu); the Gottfried Silbermann Organ Competition, on 5–20 Sep in Freiberg, Germany (www.silbermann.org); the Mikael Tariverdiev International Competition in Kaliningrad, Russia, on 6–11 Sep (www.organcompetition.ru); the Jordan International Competition in Solo Organ Playing in Columbus, Georgia, on 17–26 Sep (http://jic.colstate.edu); the 2nd Buxtehude Organ Competition, on 26 Sep–4 October in Lübeck, Germany (www.mh-luebeck.de/index.php?id=16297); the Prix d’Orgue Bach de Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours, on 27 Sep in France (http://orgue77-musique.com); the Marcello Galanti International Organ Competition, on 3–4 Oct in Mondaino, Italy (www.concorsomarcellogalanti.org); the International Organ Competition for the Wiesbaden Bach Prize, on 22–24 Oct in Germany (www.bach-wiesbaden.de/organ_competition.htm); and the International Improvisation Competition Leipzig, on 29 Oct–1 Nov (www.organpromotion.org).

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


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