David Willcocks

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Born: 30 December 1919

Died 17 September 2015


Sir David Willcocks (born December 30, 1919, died 17 September 2015) was a renowned British choral conductor, organist, and composer. Born in Newquay in Cornwall, he began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey from 1929 to 1934. From 1934 to 1938, he was a music scholar at Clifton College, Bristol, before his appointment as organ scholar at King's College, Cambridge.

With the outbreak of World War II, he interrupted his studies in music to serve in the British Infantry, and won the Military Cross in 1944. He returned to Cambridge in 1945 to complete his studies, and in 1947 was elected a Fellow of King's College and appointed as Conductor of the Cambridge Philharmonic Society. In the same year, he became the organist at Salisbury Cathedral and the conductor of the Salisbury Musical Society. He moved to Worcester Cathedral in 1950 and remained until 1957, during which time he was organist of the Cathedral, principal conductor of the Three Choirs Festival in 1951, 1954, and 1957, and conductor of the City of Birmingham Choir. From 1956 to 1974 he was also conductor of the Bradford Festival Choral Society.

From 1957 to 1974 he held the post for which he is probably best-known, Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge. In addition, he served as the organist of Cambridge University, conductor of the Cambridge University Music Society, and as University Lecturer. He made numerous recordings with the college choir; the choir toured extensively, giving concerts world-wide, as well as garnering further acclaim internationally through television and radio appearances. Under the baton of Willcocks, the King's College Choir premiered Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in 1963 in (Perugia) Milan, La Scala, and in Venice. The choir subsequently performed the work in Japan, Hong Kong, Portugal, and the Netherlands. In 1960, he also became the musical director of the Bach Choir in London.

He held these positions at Cambridge until the 1970s when he accepted the post of director of the Royal College of Music. In 1971, he was made Commander (CBE) of the Order of the British Empire, and was knighted in 1977 in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Honours List. He held honorary degrees in England from the Universities of Bradford, Bristol, Exeter, Leicester, and Sussex, and from the Royal College of Music in London; in the USA from Luther College (Iowa), St. Olaf College (Minnesota), and Westminster Choir College (New Jersey); and in Canada from the Universities of Trinity, Toronto, and Victoria B.C.

He made recordings with the Bach Choir, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Jacques Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. He also served as general editor of the Church Music series of the Oxford University Press. He was particularly known for his choral arrangements of Christmas carols, most of which were originally written for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's or the Bach Choir's Christmas concerts. They are published in the five Carols for Choirs anthologies (1961–1987), edited by Willcocks with Reginald Jacques and John Rutter.

He died at home in Cambridge on the morning of 17 September 2015.[16]

(Above is from wikipedia. Use link below to see complete biography.)

View the Wikipedia article on David Willcocks.

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