Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

September/October 2015 on sale from 28 August

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

Alamire and BBCSO chorus win Gramophone awards

2 September 2015

The recordings which have won Gramophone Awards in each of the 12 main categories have been announced.

The winner of the choral category was the Chandos recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chorus and featuring Sarah Connolly, Stuart Skelton and David Soar as soloists. The Gramophone critic Andrew Achenbach described the disc as 'unquestionably the strongest Gerontius to have come my way since Sir Mark Elder's Gramophone Award-winning Hallé account', writing: 'Davis certainly secures a splendidly disciplined and consistently fervent response from his massed BBC Symphony forces'.

The early music category award went to The Spy's Choirbook, recorded by Alamire and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble under David Skinner for Obsidian. Gramophone's David Fallows wrote of the recording: 'What we have here is a complete recording of the entire choirbook in its manuscript order: 34 four-voice motets from the first decade of the century by French and Franco-Flemish composers, giving a magnificent panorama of the repertory. Most of them have never been recorded before.

'Most of the music is performed by the mixed voices alone, a small group sounding gorgeous throughout.'

One of these discs will be named Gramophone recording of the year at an event at St John’s, Smith Square on 17 September. The event will also reveal the winners of the Gramophone artist of the year, young artist of the year and label of the year awards, as well as the recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Gramophone editor-in-chief James Jolly said: ‘The voting process for this year’s awards entailed a wonderfully enjoyable few months, with some magnificent artists caught in their absolute prime and an industry showing flair and imagination, unimpaired by the tough market conditions. We look forward to revealing the recording of the year at the ceremony next month.’

The original Gramophone reviews of all the shortlisted recordings have been reproduced in a special digimag (in association with Qobuz) available to download for free for iPad or tablet.

Gramophone Awards 2015

Hilliard Ensemble and Schola Cantorum Basiliensis win REMA awards

2 September 2015

The Hilliard Ensemble
The Hilliard EnsembleMarco Borggreve

The winners of the REMA Early Music Awards have been announced. The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis won the inaugural REMA Early Music Award, while the Hilliard Ensemble were given the special REMA Early Music Artist Award.

New this year, the REMA Early Music Award was established in order to recognise ensembles and institutions who have made an outstanding contribution to the study and popularisation of early music.

The Schola Cantorum Basiliensis is a centre for practical training in early music and research into historical performance practice. It regularly organises public concerts and supports young performers. Staff and students are drawn from across the world.

The Schola’s director, Pedro Memelsdorff, said: ‘It’s a big honour and a joy for Schola to receive this award from REMA. Restoring music of the past to pass it to future generations and to get from them the novelty of their invention, their imagination, has always been our goal.’

The Hilliard Ensemble, founded in 1973 and disbanded at the end of 2014, played a major role in rediscovering and popularising early music. The group specialised in music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, but also performed contemporary music.

REMA (European Early Music Network) was created in 2000, and now has 60 member organisations from 21 countries. It coordinates networking sessions, and has organised the European Day of Early Music on 21 March each year since 2013.

The REMA Early Music Awards ceremony took place in Antwerp, Belgium on 22 August 2015.

REMA (European Early Music Network)

Spitalfields Music appoints new chief executive

2 September 2015

Eleanor Gussman
Eleanor Gussman

Spitalfields Music has announced Eleanor Gussman as its next chief executive. The music education specialist will assume the position in October 2015 to lead the charity’s festivals and its learning and participation programme.

Gussman has worked in music education for over a decade. As head of LSO Discovery, she directed LSO Play and the LSO Soundhub, coordinated a number of opportunities which included arranging for 80 young musicians from East London to perform in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, and embedding creative music practice in classrooms across East London through a systematic Continuing Professional Development programme. Prior to leading LSO Discovery, Eleanor oversaw the LSO’s artist development programme and worked for the Asian Music Circuit. Most recently, she has acted as a consultant for clients including the London Sinfonietta and Wellcome Trust.

She said of the appointment: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be joining Spitalfields Music in the lead up to the 40th anniversary in 2016. The organisation’s world-class programming, award-winning education programme and setting in the heart of East London make it irresistible. I am greatly looking forward to building upon the exceptional work to date and to working with Maurice and the team to shape the future direction of Spitalfields Music.’

Professor Maurice Biriotti, chair of Spitalfields Music, said: ‘Eleanor’s superb musical and artistic integrity, combined with her passionate belief in the power of music, make her an excellent leader for our organisation. Her commitment to using music to inspire and enrich individuals and bring communities together will doubtless allow her to excel in her new role.’

Spitalfields Music’s learning and participation programme, which celebrated 25 years in 2014, brings participatory music projects to members of the local community in schools, community centres, hospitals and libraries across Tower Hamlets. The inaugural Takeover Spring Festival (curated and produced by pupils at three local Tower Hamlets schools) took place in 2015.

Spitalfields Music

Cheltenham Bach Choir appoints new music director

2 September 2015

David Crown has been appointed as the new music director of the Cheltenham Bach Choir.

Crown is currently music director of the Reading Phoenix Choir, the Oxford Singers and the vOx chamber choir in Oxford. He teaches singing at Oxford and Bristol Universities, and is also director of music at Somerville College, Oxford.

Choir chair Susan Gargett said: 'We are delighted to welcome David to the Cheltenham Bach Choir as we approach our seventieth anniversary.  We are particularly looking forward to the leadership and insights of such an experienced singer. The choir has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and we expect David will help us to build on this momentum as we move into our eighth decade.'

David’s inaugural performance with the choir will be on 24 October, when he will direct Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Carissimi’s Jepthe at the Parabola Arts Centre in Cheltenham.

The Cheltenham Bach Choir is a 100-strong choral society, covering repertoire from the 16th century to present day. Each year the choir presents at least three major concerts in venues including the Cheltenham Town Hall, Tewkesbury Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral.

Cheltenham Bach Choir

Results of fifth NIIOC announced

26 August 2015

David Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Erwan le Prado, and David Hill
David Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Erwan le Prado, and David Hill

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, organ scholar at St George's Chapel, Windsor, won the senior category of the fifth Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC), which was held in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh between 24 and 26 August.

The 19-year-old wins a £1,000 cash prize and a range of recording and concert engagements (including recitals at Trinity College Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast and Christ Church, Dublin).

Laurence Long (Royal College of Music), came second in the senior class and won the Stephen Corry Award for a stand-out performance of any piece except Bach. Yanis Dubois (Caen Conservatoire) came third and won the Bach Prize, while Henry Brearley (Stockport Grammar School) was highly commended.

Matthew Breen won the intermediate class of the competition. Thomas Maxwell won the junior class, in which Niall Barrett was highly commended.  

Erwan Le Prado (Caen Conservatoire) chaired the judging panel, which was completed by David Graham, Professor of organ at the Royal College of Music, and David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC Singers. They praised the standard and musicianship of the competitors and the variety of their programmes.

Richard Yarr, chair of NIIOC, said: 'We are recognised as the go-to competition for organists aged 21 and under. Our previous four winners are ambassadors for NIIOC and have begun accomplished careers in music. Alexander Hamilton is set to be another.'

Previous winners include Andrew Forbes (2014), Richard Gowers (2013) and Benjamin Bloor (2012).

The Northern Ireland International Organ Competition

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