‘O come let us sing to the Lord’

Congratulations to James Bibey from The Cathedral School, Llandaff and Benedict Braddock, a pupil at Dean Close School and a member of Tewkesbury Abbey’s Schola Cantorum. James took first prize in the David Willcocks Composition Competition 2019 while Benedict won the Junior category – for the second year running!

We were delighted to learn from judge Jonathan Willcocks that overall the entries were of the highest standard of work he had seen in recent years. Well done James and Benedict and congratulations to all those whose entries were commended: Francois Cloete (Wells Cathedral School), Edward Harris-Brown (Chetham’s School of Music), Matthew Oxtoby(Reigate Grammar School) and Jacky Zhang (King’s College School, Cambridge).

The competition is open to all pupils and choristers at choir schools and in cathedral choirs belonging to CSA. Entrants were invited to compose a short introit, suitable for performance in cathedrals, chapels or churches.

The text this time came from Psalm 95: O Come let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Words of encouragement!

Commenting further, Jonathan Willcocks said: “It is always a challenge to set a given text to music, and the most fulfilling and successful compositions were those which incorporated the natural rhythms and emphasis of the words faithfully and also brought to musical life the meaning of the text.”

He urged the young composers to bear in mind what is realistic for singers – avoiding excessively high or low notes or really tricky intervals that may be easy on a piano) or sound effortless if played via a computer) but are very awkward for singers!

He added: “You have all achieved a great deal in composing such an interesting array of settings and I hope you have enjoyed being composers and will continue to develop your writing. Very many of the finest composers in our history gained their earliest musical experience singing in choirs in some of our most lovely sacred buildings.”

2020’s Competition

We will be publishing details of this year’s competition before too long. This time we are delighted it will be open not just to CSA children, but to choristers throughout the land, thanks to the Cathedral Organists’ Association.