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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

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

St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival

2 December 2015

The 30th edition of the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival will take place from 11-23 December 2015.

The event will launch with a performance from the Choir of King's College London in a programme including Tallis's Spem in Alium.

There will be appearances from four Oxbridge choirs: the Choir of Christ Church Oxford; the Choir of Merton College, Oxford; the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge.

The event concludes with performances of Bach's B minor mass (22 December, with the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment) and Handel's Messiah (23 December, with Polyphony and the OAE), now an annual tradition.

The festival also includes performances from Ex Cathedra; Siglo de Oro; Chapelle du Roi; Ensemble Plus Ultra; the Tallis Scholars; and Solomon's Knot.

St John's Smith Square

New carol for King's commissioned from Richard Causton

2 December 2015

Richard Causton
Richard CaustonKatie Vandyck

Richard Causton is the composer of this year's King's College commission for the Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve. His carol The Flight is an unaccompanied setting of a poem by George Szirtes.

Causton is a house composer at English National Opera and has been a lecturer in composition at the University of Cambridge since October 2012.

He has worked with ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of  Enlightenment and the Britten Sinfonia. Recent works include a chamber symphony commissioned by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and a piano quintet for the Nash Ensemble's 50th birthday.

Accolades include the Mendelssohn Scholarship (1997), the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for chamber-scale composition (Phoenix, 2006), and the British Composer Award for best instrumental work (Seven States of Rain, 2004).

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will take place at 3pm in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The service will be broadcast live on Radio 4.

Richard Causton

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