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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

Choir fees row cited in Llandaff Dean resignation

17 May 2013

Dean Henderson shortly after her appointment
Dean Henderson shortly after her appointment

The shock resignation of the first woman Dean of Llandaff, the Rev Janet Henderson, after only two months in post, has been accompanied by an official wall of silence regarding the reasons.

But a source told the Wales Online website that, 'The Dean has been affected by the opposition she has had from some clergy who object to the fact that a woman was appointed.'

The source went on to speculate that, 'The fees row relating to Songs of Praise may have been the last straw.'

The Llandaff Cathedral editions of Songs of Praise are produced by Cardiff-based independent TV production company Avanti. Responding to the allegation that the lay clerks were being underpaid, Dean Henderson told Wales Online that the Cathedral was not interested in making money out of appearing on Songs of Praise, which she described as a 'low budget' programme.

But Adam Poole, Cathedral lay clerk for more than 10 years, responded that, 'Avanti is being paid £60,000 to make each of the three programmes – a total of £180,000. In these circumstances, a fee of just £110 to each lay clerk is even more unacceptable.'

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'The independent production company are still in discussion with the Cathedral about the choir’s involvement and the fees involved that will be in line with agreed industry rates.'

Lindsay Thomson

Royal rededication 

9 May 2013

Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip attended a service of Choral Evensong at the Temple Church to mark the rededication of the organ, following a two-year, £750,000 programme of restoration by Harrison & Harrison of Durham. The royal couple were welcomed by the treasurers of the Inner and Middle Temple, Simon Thorley QC and Christopher Symons QC, and viewed an exhibition showing the progress of the restoration project.

The present organ was donated to the Temple in 1954 by Lord Glentanar who had commissioned the instrument from Harrisons in 1924 for the ballroom in Glen Tanar House, near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. The case, behind which is the four-manual organ complete with three 32-ft stops, is modelled on drawings of the Temple’s Father Smith organ of 1688.

The packed congregation heard music by Gabriel Jackson and Sir Charles Stanford; director of music James Vivian is reported to have amused the Queen by likening the temporary replacement electronic instrument to a 'giant karaoke machine'.

But the joint chairs of the organ fund appeal committee, Sir Anthony May and Michael Blair QC, said, 'The organ has not simply been repaired; it has been restored to its original and proper glory.'

Choral diversity at the Proms

19 April 2013

Diversity: the keynote for this year's Proms
Diversity: the keynote for this year's PromsRobert Viglasky/BBC

This year’s BBC Proms season kicks off on 12 July with a performance of Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under its new conductor, Sakari Oramo. Among other familiar choral classics are Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, under Sir Antonio Pappano (20 Jul); Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Jansons – 9 Aug); Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios (Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner – 9 Aug); Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (Choral), in the first ever free evening Prom with the Irish Youth Chamber Choir, and the National Youth Choir and Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko (11 Aug);  and Marin Alsop – who this year becomes the first woman ever to conduct the Last Night – directs the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment in Brahms’s Requiem (17 Aug).

The season’s Polish music theme directs attention to Szymanowski’s Symphony No.3 ‘The Song of the Night’ with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales joining forces with the BBC Symphony Chorus under Thomas Søndergård (18 Jul).

But there is choral innovation a-plenty in the season. Jeffrey Skidmore’s Ex Cathedra bring Stockhausen’s ‘Welt-Parlament’ from the opera, Mittwoch aus Licht for its London premiere (19 July). ‘Stockhausen always intended it to stand alone as a concert work as well as being a theatre piece,’ says Skidmore. ‘It’s an absolutely sensational piece of choral writing for 37 singers, who form a futuristic world parliament discussing the theme of love.’ Other innovations include the UK premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Moth Requiem – a dream-like incantation of the names of the dustier cousins of the sun-loving butterfly – scored for women’s voices, alto flute and three harps (BBC Singers/Kok, 12 Aug); the world premiere of German composer Charlotte Seither's Language of Leaving, based on the words of 17th-century poet Francesco de Lemene (BBC Singers/Pons, 28 Aug); and the London premiere of George Lloyd’s final work – Requiem – written in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales (Temple Church Choristers/BBC Singers/Hill, 3 Sep).

Peter Phillips and his Tallis Scholars will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a late-night Prom contrasting the music of John Taverner with Carlo Gesualdo, who died 400 years ago.       


Lindsay Thomson 

Organ takes a back seat at 2013 Proms

18 April 2013

Proms’ accent on melody and virtuosity: Richard Hills
Proms’ accent on melody and virtuosity: Richard Hills

Following last year’s Cameron Carpenter extravaganzas at the BBC Proms, this year’s programme, announced on 18 April, will afford only intermittent opportunities for the ‘Voice of Jupiter’, aka the Royal Albert Hall Grand Organ, to be heard during the season.

Klaus Sonnleitner, organist of St Florian, Linz, will perform Guilmant’s arrangement of the Sinfonia to Bach’s Cantata No.29, chorale preludes BWV 662, 667 and 668, and the Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 as a prelude to the Vienna Philharmonic’s performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No.8, conducted by Lorin Maazel (6 Sep). Bruckner. Bruckner became organist of St Florian almost 160 years ago, and is buried underneath the organ.

French organist Thierry Escaich returns to the Proms as soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No.3 with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Paavo Järvi (1 Sep).

But the Proms have recognised the multiple talents of British organist Richard Hills who will present an August Bank Holiday ‘Light Organ Prom’ (26 Aug) including Coates’s March, Sound and Vision, his own Sullivan arrangement, Mikado Memories, Ireland’s Miniature Suite, Villanella, ‘Ace of Hearts’ from Billy Mayerl’s Four Aces Suite, Edward German’s Three Dances from Nell Gywn, ending his official programme with Fats Waller’s A Handful of Keys.

Equally at home in the classical and theatre organ genres, Hills trained under William Whitehead and David Sanger, holding organ scholarships at Exeter College, Oxford, Portsmouth Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Currently organist at St Mary's, Bourne Street, London, his career in the theatre organ world has been equally prestigious: he was named ‘Organist of the Year’ by the American Theatre Organ Society in 2010, and recently issued an acclaimed CD of classical and theatre organ tracks performed on the dual-console organ of Southampton Guildhall. 

Lindsay Thomson

King's goes green

2 April 2013

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, famous around the world in particular for its Christmas broadcasts, has announced that it is to ditch the iconic red cassock in favour of new green vestments. In a statement, director of music Stephen Cleobury confirmed the changes are related to new music commissions for 2013: ‘Every year the Choir performs a number of new commissions by some of the world's leading composers. The only trouble is that modern performance directions can be very specific. This year's Christmas broadcast composer has gone one step ahead of the pack and specified the colour of the clothes to be worn during performance. I'm not sure what the Dean will make of it.’

The surprise announcement from King’s was issued on April 1.

Graeme Kay

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