International Organ Festival at St Albans
26 May 2009
The Duchess of Gloucester will attend the Three Choirs Concert on 13 July, given by the choirs of King’s College Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, and St Albans Cathedral.
A total of 21 young organists from 11 countries have won places in the final rounds of the interpretation and improvisation competitions, competing for a prize fund of over £16,000. They were chosen from a total of 49 applicants from 19 countries by a jury made up of festival founder and president Peter Hurford, artistic director David Titterington, City of Birmingham organist Thomas Trotter and Swiss organist Lionel Rogg.
Included in the line-up are three each from France, Russia, Germany, Hungary and the USA, and others from Switzerland, Korea, the Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland and Italy. Surprisingly, for the first time no British organists made it through to the first round. Linda Sitkova from the Czech Republic returns to the competition, having won the special Jean Langlais prize at the last one in 2007. The competitions begin on 9 July.
Titterington commented: ‘It was very clear from the 49 recordings screened by the pre-selection jury that the International Organ Competition at St Albans continues to attract the very best young organists from around the world. I am certain from what we have already heard the 2009 competitions will deliver some thrilling performances, especially on the recently restored cathedral organ.’
The International Organ Festival takes place in St Albans on 9–18 July: www.organfestival.com
26 May 2009
The application deadline for the Organ Academy on 21–28
June in Alkmaar has been extended to accommodate latecomers.
Open to amateur organists, organ students and professional organists, the Academy welcomes both active and non-active participants. Those interested should contact the festival immediately.
The Academy gives the opportunity to try out the oldest playable organ in the Netherlands, by Jan van Covelens (1511), and the renowned 1645 Van Hagerbeer organ, both in Grote Sint Laurenskerk.
Concert tickets can be bought in advance online; concessions and tickets not listed are only available 45 minutes before the starting-time, at the paydesk of the church concerned.
After 10 June advanced bookings can be made at the tourist office in Alkmaar.
BIOS and RCM form new partnership
26 May 2009
The National Pipe Organ Register is being expanded and made more accessible thanks to a new partnership between the British Institute of Organ Studies and the Royal College of Music in London.
Launched by BIOS in 1987, the NPOR has been in computer-based form since 1991, making available lists of organ specifications, photographs and sound files of historic British organs. More than 1,000 stop-lists are consulted daily by people around the world. The free internet service is now run on the RCM’s computers, at www.npor.org.uk.
A new sound file of organ music played from Adlington Hall, Cheshire, has just been added to the NPOR website to mark the 50th anniversary of the instrument’s restoration by Noel Mander.
BIOS chairman John Norman says: ‘BIOS is very happy with the enthusiasm of both Paul Banks [RCM professor of performance history] and Nicholas Watkins [RCM head of ICT] to work with us on the future development of this invaluable service. Like all large databases the NPOR has some errors and omissions, and BIOS has a team of skilled volunteers updating the records in response to corrections sent in by interested organists.’
Update information should be sent to email@example.com. BIOS membership details are available from BIOSfirstname.lastname@example.org.
26 May 2009
There are question marks over the future of the 1975 Kuhn organ that once sat in Alice Tully Hall, New York. The instrument was removed in 2006 when the hall, part of Lincoln Center, began refurbishments costing US$159 million. The hall reopened in February 2009 without the organ, which remains in store in Argyle, upstate New York. The date for the instrument’s reinstallation has changed several times. A draft contract drawn up between the hall and Kuhn Organ Builders in 2006 specified that the organ was to be returned in October 2008.
Because of construction delays the Center put off reinstallation until summer 2009. In April Lincoln Center told the New York Times that the return date was now mid-2010 because it was too soon ‘to take the hall offline’ and extra time was needed to allow construction dust to settle. However, it conceded that it still did not have the estimated $1 million in funds needed for the reinstallation, although the new date was only a year away.
Kuhn and Lincoln Center told C&O in May that they were in discussion, but refused to comment on the nature of their talks. The Center said it was ‘committed to reinstalling the organ at the appropriate time’ but did not give a date.
Paul Jacobs, chairman of the Juilliard School’s organ department, fears that the instrument is not a priority for the Center: ‘The delay seems to indicate a lack of a vision. This is particularly unfortunate in light of the fact that numerous other concert halls throughout the United States have added pipe organs in recent years. ‘The question of funding should have been considered years ago when every other detail concerning the hall was being addressed. Besides, the estimated cost of the organ’s reinstallation is a drop in the ocean compared with the total cost of the hall’s renovation.”
The organ was a gift from the late arts benefactor Alice Tully, whose foundation contributed $15 million to the hall’s refurbishment. Currently, no other major concert hall in New York has a pipe organ; the 1963 Aeolian-Skinner organ, built for what is now Avery Fisher Hall, was removed in the 1970s.
Gabriel Jackson to be the BBC Singers’ new Associate Composer
13 May 2009, London
The BBC Singers have announced that Gabriel Jackson will be their new Associate Composer from January 2010.
Jackson, who follows in the footsteps of Judith Bingham, will collaborate with the BBC Singers for three years. Michael Emery, the BBC Singers producer, welcomed the appointment: ‘I'm delighted that Gabriel is to be our next Associate Composer - we've known his music, in the Singers, for many years and much enjoyed performing it, especially the pieces written specifically for us. He's a composer with a huge sympathy for and expertise in vocal music, and I really look forward to seeing what choral wizardry he'll create for the BBC Singers over the next three years.’ Jackson responded, ‘I’m terribly excited about this. The BBC Singers are fantastic and the opportunity of working with a group of that calibre affords all sorts of new exciting avenues to explore.’ www.bbc.co.uk/singers
Gabriel Jackson talks to Choir & Organ in the September/October issue – don’t miss it!