Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

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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

Finalists of Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition announced

15 December 2015

Poet Roger McGough
Poet Roger McGough

The six finalists of the Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition have been announced.

For this year’s competition, amateur composers were asked to write a setting of Roger McGough’s Comes the Light for SATB choir.

The shortlisted entries were chosen by a panel comprising David Hill (chief conductor of the BBC Singers), Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music and associate composer of the BBC Singers), Jamie W Hall (bass with the BBC Singers), Griselda Sherlaw-Johnson (Oxford University Press), and Michael Emery (lead producer, BBC Singers).

Each of the six shortlisted entries will be performed live on Radio 3’s Breakfast show by the BBC Singers, conducted by chief conductor David Hill, and repeated on In Tune and Essential Classics.

Listeners will be able to vote for their favourite composition on the Radio 3 website until 5pm on 22 December.

The winning carol will be announced and performed live on Radio 3’s Breakfast on 23 December, and then throughout Christmas Day.

The finalists are:
David Hill, who chaired the judging panel, said that he was ‘astonished’ by the quality and quantity of the entries and that he was looking forward to hearing Radio 3 listeners’ responses to the compositions.

The Radio 3 Breakfast Carol Competition launched in 2014. Jacqueline Burley won the inaugural competition with her setting of Can It Be True? by Susan Hill.

Radio 3 Carol Competition 2015

Applications open for London International A Cappella Choral Competition 2017

14 December 2015

Applications are now open for the London International A Cappella Choral Competition (LIACCC) 2017.

Sixteen choirs will be selected to take part in the third edition of the competition, which will take place from 25 June - 1 July 2017.

Choirs will be sorted into three categories: vocal ensembles (two or more voices per part); consorts (one voice per part); and youth choirs (singers aged 18 and under).

For each round of the competition, ensembles must present one piece of Renaissance polyphony (1450-1625) and one work by Arvo Pärt (this year's featured composer), plus music of the group’s own choice to make up a 20 minute programme.

Choirs must submit an application form and a 20-minute recording of an unaccompanied performance featuring contrasting styles to info@sjss.org.uk

The inaugural London International A Cappella Choral Competition took place in April 2014 in conjunction with St John’s Smith Square. It is presented in association with Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars.

London International A Cappella Choral Competition

Dillon and Finnissy among British Composer Awards winners

10 December 2015

James Dillon and Michael Finnissy were among the winners at the 13th BASCA British Composer Awards.

Dillon won the choral category with his Stabat Mater dolorosa – a work that the judges described as ‘beautifully crafted with true artistic vision’, and one ‘that stays with you long after you’ve heard it’.

A cantata for 12 voices, chamber ensemble and electronics, the work was commissioned by BBC Radio 3, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Casa da Musica, Porto. The Stabat Mater verses are interspersed with other texts, including fragments from Julia Kristeva, Rainer Maria Rilke, John Donne and Pablo Picasso.

The piece was described as ‘courageous’ by Telegraph critic Ivan Hewett, and ‘powerfully individual’ by the Guardian’s Andrew Clements, who wrote that the work was ‘beautiful, distant and compelling […] The gestures may be more direct, the harmonies less congested than in earlier Dillon, but the music remains as powerfully individual as ever.’

There were 61 works nominated for the choral category this year: almost double the number submitted for 2014.

According to the judges, ‘originality imbues every aspect’ of Finnissy’s John the Baptist, winner of the liturgical category. 

The work was commissioned by St John’s Choir, Cambridge for Advent 2014. It sets part of a text from the York Mystery Play cycle (which is based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 3, verses 1-17) for SATB choir and organ.

According to BASCA, the work ‘has a very simple musical structure, alternating boisterous, jig-like, 2-part homophony with much slower, reflective, polyphony’.

The awards ceremony, which took place at the British Film Institute on 9 December, also featured the UK premiere of Judith Bingham’s A Bird is Singing, performed by the Trinity Laban Chamber Choir (directed by Stephen Jackson).

The jury members for this year’s awards included Cecilia McDowall, Juliet Fraser, Leigh Melrose and Michael Zev Gordon.

British Composer Awards

Applications open for Genesis Sixteen 2016/17

9 December 2015

Singers aged 18-23 can now apply for Genesis Sixteen for the period 2016/17.

The fully-funded programme offers high-level ensemble training over the course of a year under the guidance of Harry Christophers, Eamonn Dougan and members of The Sixteen.

Participants receive group tuition, individual mentoring and masterclasses run by some of the industry's top vocal experts. They will also perform in London Sounds Sublime and work with members of The Sixteen's period instrument ensemble.

Many of the alumni from the first five years of the scheme are now performing, recording and touring with professional ensembles, or have gone on to set up their own groups.

Auditions take place in London (29 February and 11-14 April), Cardiff (11 March), Manchester (8 and 9 March) and Edinburgh (22 February).

There are four courses: Oxford (22-28 August 2016), Manchester (28-30 October 2016) and London (10-12 February 2017; 16-23 July 2017).

The deadline for applications is 15 January 2016.

Genesis Sixteen

Cambridge Early Music: Festival of the Voice

8 December 2015

Cambridge Early Music's Festival of the Voice will take place 12-15 May 2016.

The event will begin with the Choir of St John's College (directed by Andrew Nethsingha) in music by Thomas Morley and Peter Phillips, and ends with James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook in settings of Goethe.

The festival also includes performances from Vox Luminis, the Gesualdo Six, Voces8, the Three Medieval Tenors and the Choir of King's College.

Tickets cost between £5 and £23, and are free of charge for under 18s.

Cambridge Early Music

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