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Choir & Organ, cover from current issue

September/October 2015 on sale from 28 August

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

Andrew Wyatt appointed assistant organist at Chester

9 June 2015, Katy Wright

Andrew Wyatt
Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt is to join the music department at Chester Cathedral as assistant organist. He will accompany services, conduct the cathedral choir and cathedral nave choir and assist with training the choristers.

He will work alongside Philip Rushforth and Benjamin Chewter at he cathedral, which has one of the longest running organ recital series outside London.

Wyatt studied organ with Henry Fairs at Birmingham Conservatoire, holding the position of organ scholar at Birmingham Cathedral while a student before taking up the same post at Canterbury Cathedral in October 2011. He comes to Chester from Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, where he was appointed assistant organist in 2012.

He said of the appointment: 'I travelled widely as part of a parish choir when I was a child and my favourite venue was always Chester Cathedral.  It stayed in my mind and when the opportunity arose at Chester, I knew it was right for me.'

Wyatt will take up the post in June 2015.

Chester Cathedral

Review: James O'Donnell at Douai Abbey, Sunday 7 June

8 June 2015

James O'Donnell outside Douai Abbey
James O'Donnell outside Douai AbbeyCiaran Morton

The organ at Douai Abbey
The organ at Douai AbbeyKenneth Tickell

by Ciaran Morton

Friends and supporters of the Nicholas Danby Trust were taken on a musical journey spanning four centuries in the contemplative setting of Douai Abbey. The unadorned beauty of the vaunted ceiling provided wonderful acoustics and a plain canvas upon which the music could provide shape and colour. The first three pieces were played on the Tamburini organ, a one-manual choir organ in the Italian style which showcased O’Donnell’s precise fingering in Frescobaldi’s Toccata prima. Purcell’s Voluntary in G was followed by a lively rendition of Toccata settima by Michelangelo Rossi.

O’Donnell then crossed the chancel to play on the three manual Tickell organ opening with the J.S. Bach Prelude & Fugue in D major. The location of the organ and the proximity of the audience gave a wonderful view of dextrous footwork required by the opening pedal scale. 

Prelude, fugue et variation by César Franck delivered a change of mood that was built upon by two pieces from Jehan Alain (Deuxième fantaisie and Litanies), rendered with a tangible emotional intensity by O’Donnell. A reflective Adagio in E by Frank Bridge provided a contrast to a vigorous and powerful delivery of Paean by Herbert Howells, with a major chord conclusion that showcased the rich tones of the Tickell.

Douai Abbey’s original French location was famously visited by Couperin, so it was fitting that an encore from him provided an opportunity for calm reflection and repose at the culmination of an engaging and brilliantly executed programme by O’Donnell.

James O’Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey

The Nicholas Danby Trust offers a major European postgraduate scholarship and undergraduate bursaries to young organists of exceptional promise.

Bertie Baigent wins Stainer & Bell composition competition

1 June 2015, Katy Wright

Bertie Baigent
Bertie Baigent

Bertie Baigent has won the 2015 Stainer & Bell award for choral competition for his SATB setting of Christina Rossetti's An Echo from Willow-Wood. He receives an award of £500 and the publication of the work in Stainer & Bell's digital choral series, Choral Now.

Baiger is currently in his second year reading music at Jesus College, Cambridge where he holds the position of organ scholar. His works have won a number of prizes, and have been performed by Britten Sinfonia, Fretwork, the Aurora Orchestra, and the Choir of Jesus College, Cambridge in venues including the Royal Festival Hall and Snape Maltings. In Memoriam In Nomine won the National Centre for Early Music's Young Composers' Award 2011, and was described by Michael Church (The Independent) as 'an exquisite essay in post-Bartókian harmonies and textures’. He studies with Patrick Nunn.

Runner-up Rhiannon Randle, who set the same poem under the title On Life's Dividing Sea, will receive the offer of publication for her entry. Randle is currently studying for her M.Phil. in composition at Girton College, Cambridge.

Stainer & Bell said that the 2015 competitors were 'a strong field that has proved a ringing endorsement of the talent of a new generation of choral composers, refreshing a uniquely British genre of which S&B are proud to represent six centuries of national achievement.'

Stainer & Bell

Organists Charitable Trust elects new chairman

26 May 2015, Katy Wright

Alan Thurlow
Alan Thurlow

Alan Thurlow has been appointed chairman of the Organists Charitable Trust. He takes over from Martin Neary, who has held the post for 27 years.

Thurlow is organist emeritus of Chichester cathedral and chairman of the British Institute of Organ Studies. He was organist and master of the choristers at Chichester between 1980 and 2008, having previously held the position of sub-organist at Durham cathedral.

The trust assists organists of all ages who are ill, disabled or suffering financial hardship through grants and advice. Limited educational grants are also available.

Organists Charitable Trust

David Pickard named as new BBC Proms director

26 May 2015, Katy Wright

David Pickard
David Pickard

David Pickard, currently general director at Glyndebourne, has been appointed director of the BBC Proms.

Pickard, 55, will take up the role later this year, reporting to Alan Davey (controller of BBC Radio 3). He said of the appointment: ‘I am honoured to be asked to take up the role of Director, BBC Proms, and to follow in the line of such distinguished predecessors. After 14 wonderful years at Glyndebourne, I count myself extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to lead another of this country’s most exciting arts organisations. Like so many people, my interest in classical music was inspired by visits to the Proms as a teenager and it has been my privilege to play a role as a contributor for the past 20 years, firstly with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and more recently with the annual Glyndebourne Prom. I look forward now to building on the founding principles of the Proms – to bring world-class classical music to the widest possible audience.’

Pickard was appointed general director of Glyndebourne in 2001. Under his leadership, the company has broadcast operas in cinemas and online; expanded its education and outreach work; and offered subsidised tickets to young people.

His previous roles include chief executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (1993-2001) and managing director of Kent Opera (1889-90).

Davey said: ‘David comes from a background of musical excellence and exploration, and will bring a whole host of fresh ideas to help us ensure the greatest classical music festival in the world continues to provide the place for people to discover and rediscover the best classical music. His achievements at Glyndebourne have included the discovery of exciting new artistic talent and the establishment of a range of new initiatives to bring opera to wider audiences through Glyndebourne’s touring, education and digital activities.’

Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, said: ‘David has an outstanding track record in bringing new audiences to classical music, as well as a background in both orchestral and operatic music. I am absolutely delighted he will be working with Alan to build on the success of the BBC Proms. I would also like thank Edward Blakeman for leading the Proms with skill and flair as Director, BBC Proms 2015, and on delivering another excellent programme this year.’

Edward Blakeman will continue to lead the 2015 festival.

BBC Proms


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