Sir David Willcocks
(getting wired with his microphone)
Sir David, playing the piano
and counting our beats
(he has a unique way of counting
that involves yelling "one!"
so loudly that it is startling)
If you don't know anything about Sir David Willcocks, please go here. In addition to his rather impressive bio (including directing the music for a most famous royal wedding), he is an amazing teacher. In one week my ability to sight-read music has skyrocketed, under his gentle and spirited tutelage.
Sir David Willcocks is a renowned choral conductor, organist, and composer. Born on December 30, 1919 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. However, when the outbreak of World War II (war service) interrupted his studies, he briefly diverted from 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, where he stayed 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 Fesival Choral Society.
From 1957 to 1974 he upheld the tradition at Cambridge as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge with competency and excellence. In addition, he served as the organist of Cambridge University, conductor of the Cambridge University Music Society, and as University Lecturer. With the college choir, he made numerous recordings that gained international acclaim through television and radio. The choir toured extensively, giving concerts all over the world. Under the baton of Willcocks, 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 (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 holds 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 has 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 King's College, Cambridge. He also served as general editor of the Church Music series of the Oxford University Press. He is 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 is currently Music Director Emeritus of King's College Choir, and an Honorary Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.