RUSSIAN-THEMED CD WINS GRAMMY
10 February 2015
Conspirare director Craig Hella Johnson receives the GRAMMY award in Los Angeles
At the 57th GRAMMY Awards, the Best Choral Performance category was won by The Sacred Spirit of Russia, sung by Conspirare and conducted by Craig Hella Johnson (Harmonia mundi SACD 807526). The CD positions music by Rachmaninoff alongside that by Alexander Kastalsky and Alexander Grechaninov, and was described in C&O’s Reviews section as ‘a lovely recording, in immaculate sound’ (Mar/Apr 2014).
Three Choirs Festival looks to the future
23 January 2015
Three Choirs Festival artistic directors (from left) Geraint Bowen, Adrian Partington and Peter Nardonecopyright Ash Mills
The Three Choirs Festival has established a new foundation to help to secure the future of the festival and open it up for wider participation. The Three Choirs Foundation, which marks the Festival’s 300th anniversary this year, was launched on 22 January at a reception in the House of Lords, London, hosted by Lord Faulkner of Worcester.
Sir Michael Perry, chair of the Three Choirs Foundation, said that he hoped that the new trust would facilitate some large-scale commissioning of new works, something for which the Festival has been known over its three centuries. Other speakers included Dame Felicity Lott, President of the Three Choirs Festival Society, and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly CBE, who said: ‘I never take for granted an invitation to sing in one of the three great cathedrals of the Three Choir Festival; indeed my summer would be incomplete without it. It is an honour to be part of this rich history of music-making which has given a platform to so many musicians within the last 300 years …The Three Choirs Festival can never be accused of being stuck in a time warp. It is in the good hands of people who are open to many new ideas while being aware that audiences still want to hear what they know.’
Edward Gardner OBE, outgoing music director of English National Opera and chief conductor designate of the Bergen Philharmonic, sent a message which was read on his behalf by Adrian Partington, current artistic director of the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival: ‘It was the Three Choirs Festival where, as a chorister, I took my very first steps into this amazing international community of classical music. Performing as a youngster alongside the best soloists, the excellent chorus, and singing new works by international composers, opens the eyes like nothing else … I want to express my fullest support for a Foundation which seeks to ensure that choristers of 2115 have the chances I had, and that audiences are still relishing and celebrating our great British tradition for centuries to come. Without the experience gained at the Three Choirs Festival, I would not be conducting at the Coliseum – it’s as simple as that.’
Lay clerks of Gloucester Cathedral, directed by Adrian Partington, entertained guests with a brief but eclectic programme of plainsong, Byrd’s Vigilate and Is you is or is you ain’t my baby, reflecting both the sacred and the secular origins of the Three Choirs Festival.
Initiatives to be undertaken by the Three Choirs Foundation include the support and development of the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir, founded in 2010, and the creation of Three Choirs Voices, a chamber choir drawn from the Festival Chorus. Funding goals include £50k per annum for bursaries to support the training of cathedral choristers at Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. www.3Choirs.org/Foundation
Schott London MD dies
15 January 2015
The death on 9 January of
Judith Webb, the managing director of Schott Music’s London office, after a
short period of illness has saddened the music world. In a statement announcing
her passing, Schott Music London described Webb as being ‘hugely liked and
respected throughout the industry’ as well as being ‘a loyal and devoted member
Webb joined Schott London as an administrative assistant in 1980. During her 35 years with the company, she worked her way up through a number of roles before becoming managing director. In addition to serving on Schott London’s board of directors, Webb was a member of the Music Publishers Association board.
Dr Peter Hanser-Strecker, chairman of the Schott Music Group, commented: ‘It is hard to believe that our dear colleague and management board member Judith Webb is no longer with us. I have known and admired her since she started to work at Schott London. We will miss her unique knowledge, her loyalty, her dedication to Schott and we will especially miss the great friend she was.’
Sam Rigby, creative director of Schott London, said: ‘My colleagues and I feel great sadness and shock at Judith’s passing. Her contribution to Schott has been immense, and her assured and confident direction will be much missed here and in the wider industry. We will equally miss the warmth of her personality, her dedication to those around her, and the encouragement and compassion that she showed to all of us. Judith always empowered her colleagues, and received great loyalty in return. She will always be in our thoughts.’
Distinguished musicians recognised by the Royal College of Organists
15 January 2015
Professor Edward Higginbottom
Dr Ludger Lohmann
Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite
Three eminent musicians are to be awarded the RCO Medal, the Royal College of Organists’ highest honour.
Professor Edward Higginbottom, former director of music at New College, Oxford, receives the Medal in recognition of his distinguished achievements in choral conducting and organ- and choral-related scholarship; the renowned organ professor Dr Ludger Lohmann for his distinguished achievements in organ playing, teaching and scholarship; and Canon Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite, in recognition of his distinguished achievement in organ scholarship, specifically his research on the history of organ building in the UK.
The RCO Medals will be presented at the College’s Conferment of Diplomas at Southwark Cathedral on 14 March this year.
The RCO Medal was first awarded in 2012 and recognises distinguished achievement in one or more of the following areas relating to organ and choral music: performance, teaching, scholarship, composition, organ building, conducting, administration, and philanthropy; it is also available to recognise specific service to the College.
Full report in the March/April 2015 issue of Choir & Organ.
New Year honours for Anne Marsden Thomas and Jeffrey Skidmore
6 January 2015
Anne Marsden Thomas has been awarded an MBE (for services to organ music) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Marsden Thomas founded the St Giles International Organ School in 1992, which subsequently teamed up with the Royal College of Organists to become the RCO Academy Organ School. In the 23 years since its founding, thousands of organists of all ages and ability levels have received training at the School, which has gained an international reputation, with centres across the UK, summer courses, workshops and individual teaching.
Marsden Thomas also teaches at the Royal Academy of Music, and has published books and articles on organ teaching, most recently Pedalling for Organists (Cramer Music £15.90) and the Oxford Bach Books for Organ (OUP books 1-3, £8.95-£10.95 per volume).
Other titles presented in 2015’s New Year honours list include CBEs for chief executive of Aldeburgh Music and former controller of BBC Radio 3 Roger Wright and the Southbank Centre’s artistic director Jude Kelly, and an OBE for Jeffrey Skidmore, founder-conductor of Birmingham-based chamber choir Ex Cathedra.
Skidmore said: ‘It is a great personal honour for me to receive this award. It is also a tribute to the many groups and institutions I have worked with over a long period of time and in particular Ex Cathedra.’