St Albans International Organ Festival finalists
18 July 2013
After two days of intensive semi-finals, the following are through to the final round of the organ competition at St Albans International Organ Festival:
Improvisation: David Baskeyfield (UK), David Cassan (France) Samuel Liégeon (France), Martin Sturm (Germany).
Interpretation: Anna-Victoria Baltrusch (Germany), Simon Thomas Jacobs (UK), Seon-A Mun (South Korea), Benjamin Sheen (UK).
The final rounds take place in St Albans Cathedral tomorrow, Friday 19 July.
Turnage cantata premiere in City of Culture
2 July 2013
The organ of the restored Derry-Londonderry Guildhall
The first performance of the Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture classical season took place on 2 July – the world premiere of At Sixes and Sevens, a newly-commissioned cantata performed concurrently in the two Guildhalls of London and Derry-Londonderry.
The cantata consists of nine movements written by the Pulitzer-Prize winning Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon and the composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.
The work – the first to be performed in the newly reopened Derry-Londonderry Guildhall following a £9.5m restoration – was interspersed with further sections devised by communities in Derry-Londonderry and London. At Sixes and Sevens was performed by Camerata Ireland, the London Symphony Orchestra, soloists, choirs and specially commissioned community ensembles.
The Guildhall restoration included work on the display pipes of the 1914 William Hill organ, which now feature 23-carat Italian gold leaf and an acorn design.
Michael Brewer stripped of OBE
30 May 2013
Michael Brewer, former director of music at Chetham's School of Music and the National Youth Choir, has been stripped of his Order of the British Empire (OBE).
In March, Brewer was jailed for abusing a Chetham's pupil, Frances Andrade, from the age of 14, between 1978 and 82; Ms Andrade killed herself after giving evidence at his trial at Manchester Crown Court.
In a separate development, it has been announced that Brewer is to seek leave to appeal against the length of his six-year sentence. The application will be considered by the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with two other judges, on 12 June.
20 May 2013
Winner: David J. Loxley-Blount has come away with first prize for his composition Sonus RepercussusHelen Loxley-Blount
The 2013 Choir & Organ Composition Competition, in partnership with St Albans International Organ Festival, has been won by David J. Loxley-Blount with his organ work Sonus Repercussus. David told C&O, ‘The work was inspired by large acoustic spaces … homophonic passages alternate with contrasting multi-section episodes which vary in character and texture in a quasi-rondo form.’
Composer Judith Bingham, on the panel of judges, commented, ‘The piece is idiomatically written, but always avoiding the obvious and with a lot of potential for colour without becoming impossibly difficult at any time.’
David, who comes from Finchley, London, is an undergraduate student on the BA (Hons) Music [Composition] course at Middlesex University. He has won several prizes in national composition competitions, and has had works premiered by the Allegri String Quartet and North London Chorus.
Sonus Repercussus will be premiered on in St Albans Cathedral on Saturday 20 July, during the Prizewinners Concert of St Albans International Organ Festival.
Choir fees row cited in Llandaff Dean resignation
17 May 2013
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.'