Chorister Composition Winners Announced!

We are delighted to announce the 2021 winners of the CSA Willcocks Composition Competition. Congratulations to Nicholas Howard, Deputy Head Chorister at Durham who has won the Junior Section and to Hugh Davies, a Music Scholar at King’s Rochester who submitted the winning entry in the 14-18 category.

It is 40 years since the Association launched a competition which has proved popular with many choristers keen to try their hand at composing. The first winner was Ben Finn, a chorister at King’s College Cambridge who, with his twin brother, created Sibelius software for composers. Some current church musicians were early winners including Ben Lamb, Richard Gowers and Will Fox.  

There have been many distinguished adjudicators over the decades, including Sir David Willcocks himself. Other well-known names include Dr Lionel Dakers, Professor William Mathias, Professor Kenneth Leighton, Professor Peter Aston, Alison Cox, Head of Composition at The Purcell School and Dr Richard Shephard. This year we were delighted to welcome Sir David’s grandson, Charlie, who joined his dad Jonathan to judge the 2021 entries.

In 2012 CSA teamed up with the David Willcocks Music Trust. As well as judging the entries, the Trust provides cash prizes along with a signed certificate. CSA is incredibly grateful for this wonderful support for young choristers wishing to start composing.

Commended – Well Done!

Congratulations also to those whose work has been commended this year. In the Senior Section we have Mide Oladiji (Coventry Cathedral) and Nora Rechel (Norwich Cathedral).

Junior commendations were made to:Michael Dey (Wells Cathedral School and Wells Cathedral), Hugo Robinson (Chester Cathedral), Olivia Benyon (Cheltenham Ladies College), Thomas Strudwick (Ely Cathedral and King’s Ely School) and Shuchen Xie (Llandaff Cathedral and St John’s College Cardiff )

Introducing our Junior Winner

Our junior winner Nicholas, 12, is from Cumbria. He is Deputy Head Chorister at Durham Cathedral and is the seventh boy in his family to go to choir school!  He loves composing and wants to study it in the future. He particularly likes Baroque music but his current favourite composer is Shostakovich. He is working towards grade 7 oboe and piano and aspires to play the baroque cornetto.

…. and our Senior Winner

Hugh, 16, and winner of the senior section of the competition, is a music scholar and in his GCSE year at King’s Rochester, Kent. His love of choral music stems from his five years as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral where he enjoyed singing at many prestigious services, including HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration Service. Last year he passed Grade 8 Piano with Distinction as well as completing his GCSE Music a year early with Grade 9. He also plays the violin, leads the school orchestra as well as playing the organ for school services and hymn practices.

The Judges Have Their Say!

Jonathan and Charlie Willcocks write: “It was such a pleasure again to be able to read through all the settings of the given text “Sing to the Lord a new song” that you have written. Many of the composers who in past years have established themselves as the very finest have gained their early musical experience singing in one of our great historic cathedrals or churches that maintain a choral tradition. Perhaps amongst you there will be the future ‘greats’ of our wonderful choral tradition.

There was much to admire in the creativity of what you presented to us – with very many of you beginning with interesting and imaginative musical ideas. The most successful compositions were those which managed to develop these starting points through imaginative use within the voice parts of the initial ideas and included some variety of keys used and a structure to give the piece a pleasing sense of shape. Well done to you all, and we hope that you keep writing music as well as enjoying your own singing.”