Lichfield Cathedral admits Girl Choristers for the first time
24 September 2012
Making history: Lichfield Cathedral Girl Choristers
The Choral Foundation of Lichfield Cathedral has announced that for the first time in its 800-year history it is opening its doors to girl choristers to sing services. The first service under this new arrangement took place yesterday afternoon.
Since 1315 the foundation has sung the services at Lichfield Cathedral. In 2006 Lichfield Cathedral School established a scholarship-based Girls’ Choir who have sung in services, but never before as part of the Choral Foundation.
Dean of Lichfield, The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said of the news: ‘The admission of girl choristers to the historic choral foundation of the Cathedral is good news for us all. It allows girls to share the educational and other benefits of being a chorister, which boys have been enjoying for centuries.
‘I am very happy that this development is another example of our close cooperation with the Cathedral School. Together, we will enable more young people to develop their skills and talents, making them very strong candidates for good universities when the time comes to apply.’
Girl choristers will all be music scholars between the ages of 10-15 and attendees of Lichfield Cathedral School. On 26 January the school is holding a free choral workshop day for girls interested in becoming choristers.
For more information and to find out how to get involved, call the admissions team at Lichfield Cathedral School on 01543 306 168, or visit their website.
New National President for Royal Canadian College of Organists
17 September 2012
Fairbank: Appointed as National President of RCCO
Nicholas Fairbank has been appointed National President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO). The Victoria (BC) organist will serve in the post until July 2014.
The RCCO has over 1,000 members across the country. Previous Presidents have included Healey Willan, Sir Ernest MacMillan and Barrie Cabena.
Commenting on one of the challenges facing Fairbank, the RCCO said: ‘As churches close, or move away from traditional liturgical organ and choral music, the role of the pipe organ in Canada is changing, and one of Fairbank’s goals as President is to raise the awareness of the organ as a secular concert instrument. A generation ago, many children and youth were exposed to the instrument at church, and were inspired to take up organ studies and become professional church musicians. Now few young people attend church and most organ students discover the instrument in the concert setting or through online media like YouTube.’
Fairbank studied organ with Suzanne Gibson and Patrick Wedd in Vancouver, with Richard Popplewell in London (UK), and with Naji Hakim in Paris, France. He holds Associateship diplomas in organ performance from the Royal Conservatory (RCM gold medal 1981) and the RCCO (Willan Prize 1998), and Master’s degrees from UCSB (French), the Université de Paris VIII (musicology), and the University of Victoria (music composition). He is on the faculty of the Victoria Conservatory of Music, where he teaches organ and harpsichord. He is also a piano and organ examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music and an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre. As an organ recitalist he has performed across the country, in Europe and in Mexico.
Britten’s Friday Afternoons reborn in Centenary celebrations
17 September 2012
A highlight of next year’s Britten Centenary celebrations will be an Aldeburgh Music-sponsored nationwide singing project which aims to get 75,000 children in the UK to sing Britten’s music on 22 November 2013 – the exact centenary of his birth.
Composed between 1933 and 1935, Britten’s Friday Afternoons is a cycle of 12 songs composed by Britten for the school in Prestatyn, Wales, where his brother was headmaster. The composer’s nephew, Alan Britten, remarked: ‘You have to remember that in those days, my uncle was not the world famous musician we all known his as now, he was just the headmaster’s brother who was visiting.’ Featured recently in Wes Anderson’s film, Moonrise Kingdom, the music is easy to sing and is accompanied by witty piano parts.
Aldeburgh Music conceived the project to highlight Britten’s legacy of work for young people and to encourage more singing in schools – by coordinating with a network of venues, festivals, regional and national opera companies, and providing online resources for teachers through a dedicated website, the aim is to rekindle the spark of singing in schools across the country.
CUTTING IT FINE
6 September 2012
Plans to slash £2.1 million from the budget for the BBC’s performing groups by 2016-17 seem likely to deprive the BBC Singers – the main supplier of live and specially recorded choral music to Radio 3 – of four of its members.
The cuts – equivalent to a 10 per cent reduction in total spending that will also affect the BBC’s five branded orchestras – have been announced by the corporation’s Head of Audio and Music Tim Davie following the publication of the Myerscough Report in June.
It is uncertain how much the BBC Singers can expect to lose from their existing annual budget of £1.8 million, but the threat of a further four redundancies following the recent loss of two members would see the critically acclaimed ensemble’s numbers reduced by a quarter over the past year to a cohort of just 18 singers.
Tim Davie described the planned reduction in spending as an opportunity to renew the ‘creative vision’ of the performing groups. Among the areas targeted for ‘savings and more efficient targeting and fine-tuning’ of resources by John Myerscough – a former parliamentary special advisor on the arts and author of the 1988 study ‘The Economic Importance of the Arts in Britain’ – are changes to the performing strengths of each organisation, changes to contractual arrangements, a pay freeze, and the sharing of administrative responsibilities.
The merger of the BBC Singers administration within the general management of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is ‘already under way’, added Davie.
As yet, there is no indication of how any reduction in monies made available to the BBC Singers would affect their performing commitments, repertoire choices, or their educational and outreach activities, which include working with young professional artists, composers and conductors.
The Report said the proposed level of cuts ‘should be achievable, but it will not be easy’.
New College scholar scoops major prize for young organists
5 September 2012
The award ceremony of this year’s Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (from left): winner Ben Bloor (20), Martyn Noble (21), Tom Etheridge (18) and Michael Papadopoulos (21). Behind, judges Mark Duley, David Hill and Kimberly MarshallLiam McArdle
Ben Bloor, 20, organ scholar of New College, Oxford, won the senior category of the second Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC), held in Armagh on 20 – 22 August. Born in Derby, Bloor was a chorister at Derby Cathedral and organ scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor and is now in his second undergraduate year at New College, Oxford. In addition to the £1,000 NIIOC cash prize sponsored by Allen Organs he will receive a professionally recorded CD and online promotional package and will give hosted recitals in Westminster Abbey, Trinity College Cambridge, Christ Church Cathedral Dublin and St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast. A recital recorded in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, was broadcast in September on BBC Radio Ulster and will be followed by other showcase opportunities under the auspices of the competition.
Runner-up and winner of the NIIOC Bach Prize of £200 awarded in memory of Northern Irish organist William McDonald was London-based Martyn Noble, 21, who has just taken up the post of organ scholar at Southwark Cathedral. Third prize went to Tom Etheridge, 18, of Eton College, organ scholar-elect of King’s College, Cambridge, and Michael Papadopoulos, 21, of Trinity College, Oxford, was highly commended by the judging panel, which was chaired by Professor Kimberly Marshall, professor of organ at Arizona State University, assisted by David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC Singers, and Mark Duley, organist of the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway.
The NIIOC is unique in offering an important performance platform and competition experience specifically to organists under the age of 21. Established last year, it has successfully attracted entries from a substantial number of cathedral and collegiate organ scholars and assistant organists from the UK and Ireland. ‘I don’t think there is anything like this anywhere else in the world,’ said Professor Marshall in her speech at the senior awards ceremony. ‘The standard of the organists in the senior class was very impressive. The jury voted unanimously for Ben Bloor as winner. He is an outstanding player and a versatile musician.’
Richard Yarr, chair of the competition, said that it fills a gap for young organists in the international music scene and that he is delighted that NIIOC is leading the way. ‘There are very few opportunities for young local organists, and further afield, to show what they can do, and NIIOC has successfully provided something unique and special.’
The competition also features two categories for young players. First prize of £300 in the intermediate category 2012 went to Martina Smyth, a student of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin, with Catherine Olver highly commended, and first prize of £200 in the junior category was jointly awarded to Ellen Mawhinney and Richard Carey, both from Belfast.