St Albans International Organ Competitions winners
20 July 2013
After a hotly contested final round of the Interpretation Competition, it was 11pm before the winners of the St Albans International Organ Competitions were announced last night.
Taking the Interpretation First Prize and Gold Medal was Simon Thomas Jacobs (UK), a former organ scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied with David Sanger with additional lessons from Jacques van Oortmerssen in Amsterdam. He is now based in the US as fellow in sacred music at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis. Jacobs was also awarded the Audience Prize for the most enjoyable performance in the Interpretation Final according to those listening.
Second prize in the Interpretation Competition was shared between Anna-Victoria Baltrusch (Germany) and Benjamin Sheen (UK).
The Improvisation Competition was won by Martin Sturm (Germany), an organist, pianist, conductor and composer from Regensburg. Martin had impressed the 2011 judges in 2011 with his originality of approach to improvisation, and his return to St Albans this year earned him the much sought after Tournemire Prize.
The Peter Hurford Bach Prize, for the best performance of JS Bach in any round of the competition, was won by Jihoon Song (South Korea).
The Jon Laukvik Prize, for the best performance of Laukvik's commissioned work Aria, Fugue & Final, was awarded to Benjamin Sheen (UK).
The Douglas May Award, for the best performance of a competition work in either the Quarter- or Semi-final rounds of either competition, was won by David Cassan (France), who had made it through to the Finals of the Improvisation Competition.
The Prizewinners Concert will be held at 11.30am this morning, and will include the premiere (by James McVinnie) of David J. Loxley-Blount's Sonus Repercussus, which won the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2013, held in partnership with St Albans International Organ Festival.
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.