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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.

The Neoclassical Organ and the Great Aristide Cavaillé-Coll Organ of Saint-Sulpice, Paris

Latest News

The Musicall Compass to present new version of Victoria's Requiem

11 January 2016

The Musicall Compass is to present a new version of Victoria's Requiem in collaboration with guitarist and composer Laura Snowden.

The new version, which removes the work from its liturgical, historical and architectural setting, will be performed at 7.30pm on 17 February at Kings Place.

The performance will include the original Taedet animam meam (second lesson of Matins), Introit, Kyrie, Gradual, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion and the funeral motet Versa est in luctum cithara mea.

'Given that the extended liturgy and ceremony between each movement,  the architecture of the building and the importance of the occasion which surrounded Victoria’s Mass at its original performance cannot be recreated in a concert performance, or perhaps ever again in a precise way, we have experimented with providing an entirely new setting for the work, replacing the elements that we no longer have access to with something entirely new,' said Crispin Lewis, founding director of the Musicall Compass. 'Laura’s unashamedly eclectic improvisations link Victoria's movements and, at points of repetition, mingle with his music, providing a new context in which the 1605 Requiem can live and evoke everything that might have existed around the work at its original performance.'

The Musicall Compass has a particular interest in presenting 17th- and 18th-century liturgical music in new contexts. Past projects have included new versions of Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri, Haydn's Seven Last Words and J.S. Bach's Motets.



London Youth Choir announces new appointments

11 January 2016

London Youth Choir has announced four new appointments.

Co-founders Suzi Digby and Rachel Staunton have been made founding president and director respectively. Staunton will be responsible for all five LYC ensembles.

Eamonn Dougan has been appointed as associate conductor, and Robbie Jacobs as assistant conductor (with special responsibilities for the main choir and chamber choir).

'With music education increasingly under threat in our schools, LYC provides essential opportunities for young singers in London,' said Dougan, who will work with the chamber choir. 'Rachel Staunton and her team are creating a hugely exciting and varied programme for their choirs and I'm very much looking forward to working with them.'

LYC was founded in 2012 with the aim of providing talented young singers living in London with high-level choral training and performance opportunities. It encompasses five different choirs: Girls' Choir, Boys' Choir, Training Choir, London Youth Choir and London Youth Chamber Choir, all of which rehearse weekly on Monday evenings. 

More than 200 singers participate in the ensembles, with representatives from all 33 London boroughs.

London Youth Choir

Turner Contemporary to hold the premiere of LIFTED

8 January 2016

A new installation by Emily Peasgood involves filling the lift at Turner Contemporary in Margate with singers.

LIFTED will premiere inside the lift at 2pm on 17 January, with repeat performances at 3pm and 4pm.

Seventy singers will perform a work for live choir and beat boxer created by Peasgood and librettist Kate Harwood from inside the lift.

According to Peasgood, the work aims to challenge the idea of 'Muzak', replacing the piped background music one might expect to hear in elevators with live music. 

Explaining the idea behind the piece, Peasgood said: 'I used to stand in lifts and sing, much to the bemusement of fellow passengers, and I would stare at the doors as they opened and closed. I wondered why the lift could not itself be a performance space with performers inside the lift and the audience outside, looking in.'

The work will be part of the final weekend of Turner Contemporary's Risk exhibition.

'This exhibition is all about artists taking creative risks; risk with their materials, physical risks for themselves and risk for the audience,' said Sarah Martin, head of exhibitions. 'LIFTED really challenges how an audience encounters music and when Emily approached us with the idea we felt it fitted perfectly into this theme. 

'At Turner Contemporary we are keen to show artworks and performance throughout the building and LIFTED allows us to bring to life a well-used space in an exciting and unexpected way.”

LIFTED (trailer)

Bristol Choral Society appoints new music director

7 January 2016

Hilary Campbell
Hilary Campbell

Bristol Choral Society has appointed Hilary Campbell as music director. She will replace Adrian Partington, who has conducted the Bristol Choral Society since 2000.

Campbell is founder and director of Blossom Street, guest conductor with Radio 4's Daily Service Singers, conductor of several office choirs and assistant conductor of the Barts Choir. She is also musical director of the Music Makers of London, Dorking Choral Society, Chiswick Choir and P&O Ferries Choir (winners of the BBC2 series The Choir: Sing While You Work 2).

Describing herself as 'delighted', Campbell said that she was looking forward to 'forging a lasting relationship with the choir, and exploring new repertoire with them, whilst continuing to expand their outreach and education work.'

Her first concert with Bristol Choral Society will be Rachmaninov's Vespers at 7.30pm on 11 June in Bristol Cathedral. 

Bristol Choral Society

Pierre Boulez (26 March 1925 - 5 January 2016)

6 January 2016

Pierre Boulez
Pierre BoulezHarald Hoffmann

French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez has died at his Baden-Baden home aged 90, his family have confirmed.

A statement they released reads: ‘For all those who met him and were able to appreciate his creative energy, his artistic vigour […] will remain alive and strong.’

Boulez made a major contribution to the music of the 20th century, particularly through his cultivation of integral serialism (extending 12-tone technique beyond pitch organisation) and through the creation of the Paris-based Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM).

Boulez wrote three works featuring chorus: Le visage nuptial (1946/51/88–89), Le soleil des eaux (1948/50/58/65) and Cummings ist der Dichter (1970/86). The latter is particularly notable for Boulez's abstract approach to the text, rendering it almost incomprehensible in order to bring out its poetic content.

His music influenced composers from Julian Anderson, Nico Muhly, Anthony Cheung and Marc-André Dalbavie.

Boulez's formative musical studies were with Olivier Messiaen and twelve-tone advocate René Leibowitz. Boulez initially rebelled against Messiaen’s music, referring to his Turangalîla-Symphonie as ‘brothel music’ and aligning himself with Leibowitz. However, he later reverted to Messiaen’s influence, who inspired him to extending the 12-tone technique to different parameters.

Works using serialist techniques include the first book of Structures, Polyphonie X and Le marteau sans maître. This latter work is often described as one of the major landmarks in 20th-century composition.

Pli selon pli was Boulez’s first step towards fully investigating the possibilities offered by chance, which he would fully explore in works including the third piano sonata and Éclat

Around this time, Boulez became increasingly interested in the possibilities offered by electronics. Following discussions with president Georges Pompidou in the early 1970s, IRCAM opened in 1977. The centre’s administrators initially included Luciano Berio and Jean-Claude Risset, and it has provided the resources for the composition of works including George Benjamin’s Antara, Jonathan Harvey’s Mortuous Plango, Vivos Voco and Boulez’s own …explosante-fixe… Boulez remained director of the centre until 1991.

Boulez was a prolific writer and theorist. Numerous bold contributed to his image as an enfant terrible; in 1952 he asserted that ‘[a]ny musician who has not experienced […] the necessity of 12-tone system is USELESS’, while in 1971 he suggested that ‘all the art of the past must be destroyed’.

He held a number of high-profile conducting positions with ensembles including the New York Philharmonic (1971-77), the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1971-75), the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1995-2006), and the Ensemble InterContemporain (which he founded in 1976), with his interpretations of 20th-century repertoire winning particular acclaim.

Boulez cancelled a number of conducting engagements in early 2012 after an eye operation left him with severely impaired sight. He has been stricken with health problems in recent years, and was unable to attend events marking his 90th birthday year in 2015.

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