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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

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.

Baroque Unwrapped, Kings Place

6 January 2016

The Baroque period will be the focus of Kings Place's eighth Unwrapped series, which will take place from 14 January - 20 December 2016.

The programme is the result of collaboration with artistic associates The Sixteen, the Brodsky Quartet and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

A concert from John Butt and Aurora Orchestra on 16 January will launch 'Mozart's Piano', a five-year project placing the composer's complete piano concertos in context of his life, music and legacy.

Highlights include a Bach weekend (1-3 April); a performance of Handel's Brockes-Passion by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge and the Hanover Band (22 April); a concert performance of Acis and Galatea by The Sixteen (7 May); a programme of Bolivian music and religious works by Zipoli and Araujo from Florilegium (1 Oct); and a weekend dedicated to French baroque repertoire (24-26 November).

Other performers include the Dunedin Consort, Geneva Camerata, Mahan Esfahani, Avi Avital, Emma Kirkby, Jakob Lindberg and Rachel Podger.

Previous Unwrapped events have focused on music by Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Bach and minimalist composers.

Baroque Unwrapped

AGO Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarships

5 January 2016

Applications are now open for the American Guild of Organists for the 2016/17 Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarships.

The scholarships support the education of individual students who are dedicated to making significant contributions to the field of organ playing.

Applicants should be able to demonstrate their achievements in the field of organ playing along with commitment to teaching, performing or another organ-related endeavour following graduation. They must demonstrate financial need in order to be eligible.

Six scholarships are presented each year, with a total sum of $60,000. Four scholarships worth $7,500 are awarded to undergraduates (one each for an incoming college freshman, sophomore, junior and senior), and two scholarships of $15,000 are awarded to postgraduate students (one for a student entering their first year, and one in their second year). The scholarships may be renewed if requirements are fulfilled.

Applications should be received by 15 February.

AGO Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarships

Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal to celebrate first Catholic service in over 450 years

5 January 2016

The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace will hold the first Catholic service in more than 450 years on 9 February.

The Vespers service, which will take place from 7-8pm, will be the first service according to the Latin rite of the Catholic Church to be celebrated in the Chapel since the 1550s.

It will be celebrated mostly in Latin by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and will include a sermon from the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, KCVO, Bishop of London and Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal.

The service will be dedicated to St John the Baptist, recognising the fact that the Chapel was built by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of a chapel of the Knights of St John Hospitaller.

Music will be provided by The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen (both directed by Harry Christophers). They will perform Thomas Tallis’ Magnificat, William Cornysh’s Salve Regina and John Taverner’s ‘Leroy’ Kyrie.

Members of the public can enter a free ballot for the chance to attend the service.

The service will be prefaced by a discussion between the Cardinal and Dean under the title 'Faith and the Crown', which will explore the relationship between the two churches and the monarchy. This will take place from 5.30-6.30pm in the Great Hall.

Michele Price, director of development for the Choral Foundation (which preserves and promotes the heritage of choral music at the Chapel Royal), said: 'The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court played centre stage to the religious changes in the 16th Century.  Its musicians and composers met the challenge of serving the spiritual needs of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, by producing new and beautiful music and in so doing became "the cradle of English church music."

'This historic occasion enables us to explore our rich heritage and bring together Christian traditions as we celebrate 500 years of Hampton Court Palace.'

'This service of Vespers will include some music by three extraordinary composers who were in the employ of Tudor monarchs and whose music miraculously survived the reformation,' said Harry Christophers. 'In 1509 William Cornyshe became Informator Choristarum of the Chapel Royal and led the Chapel Royal’s ceremonies at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520 whilst some years later Thomas Tallis served also as a gentleman of the Chapel Royal under four monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. 

'John Taverner, who completes the trio, was perhaps the most colourful; although he was master of the Choristers in Oxford under Cardinal Wolsey he is believed to have known Thomas Cromwell personally when he was Henry VIII’s chief minister and in 1538 Taverner supervised the demolition and burning of the rood screen in Boston parish church as a result of reformation activities.'

The Chapel Royal has always been an active church within the Church of England: its services are traditional, according to the Book of Common Prayer of 1662. The Choir sings each Sunday at 11am and 3.30pm (except during the summer months). The Eucharist is celebrated every Sunday and Wednesday at 8.30am, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Holy Days at 12.30pm. 

Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace

New organ radio station launches

5 January 2016

A new radio station based in Flanders and the Netherlands broadcasts organ music for 24 hours, seven days per week.

Orgelradio.eu was created to compensate for a lack of regular organ programming.

Each day has a theme: for example, Mondays will be dedicated to Belgian recordings; Wednesdays to Dutch releases; and Fridays will be dedicated to CDs from across the world. 

The repertoire broadcast ranges from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue to Widor's first symphony.

The number of tracks is currently limited to 1000 but this will increase to 3000 in March 2016.

Orgel Radio

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