Sir David Willcocks
Wednesday 30 September 2015
The world’s choral community is sad to hear of the death of Sir David Willcocks at the age of 95. Sir David paid regular visits to New Zealand and Australia giving concerts with the NZSO and orchestras of the ABC and was associated with many of this country’s choirs
The world’s choral community is sad to hear of the death of Sir David Willcocks at the age of 95. Sir David paid regular visits to New Zealand and Australia giving concerts with the NZSO and orchestras of the ABC and was associated with many of this country’s choirs.
Sir David Valentine Willcocks CBE MC, born 30 December 1919 in Newquay, Cornwall, was an internationally acclaimed British choral conductor, organist, composer and music administrator.
He began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey from 1929 to 1934 and in 1938 took up the appointment of organ scholar at King’s College. During the Second World War he served as an officer in the British Army, and was decorated with the Military Cross for his actions during the Battle of Normandy.
From 1957 to 1974 he became Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge. He made numerous recordings with the college choir and toured extensively giving concerts worldwide. David Willcocks was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 1971 and created a Knight Bachelor in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Honours.
In 1980 Sir David came to New Zealand to conduct the one-year-old National Youth Choir at the invitation of its founder, Guy Jensen. The concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra had as its major work Tippett’s ‘A Child of Our Time’. It was a great success and is fondly remembered by founding alumni of NZYC.
Sir David returned to New Zealand in 1988 to conduct a performance of Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ with members of the Youth Choir combined with the NZ Secondary Student’s Choir together with the NZSO in Wellington Town Hall. John Button in the Dominion reported that the packed hall …’received the performance with enormous enthusiasm.’