NEW Composition Competition

Over the last few months, we have been planning a second Composition Competition to coincide with our fifth anniversary and debut appearance at the Cadogan Hall. After the success of our inaugural competition in 2016, we are delighted to be able to reveal the details of our next competition, running from 2018 into 2019.

We have engaged prominent musicians Cheryl Frances-Hoad (composer, Chester Music) and Nigel Short (conductor, Tenebrae) as judges, and the winning pieces will be considered for publication by Novello & Co, part of the Music Sales group of companies.

The Gesualdo Six will premiere the winning works as part of our debut concert at the Cadogan Hall in London on 7 March 2019. Our concert forms part of the Choral at Cadogan series, which also features the Tallis Scholars and VOCES8 as guest artists.

One of the most rewarding experiences of our 2016 competition was running a composition workshop for entrants in the younger category, with sixteen young composers attending to hear their works sung as part of a masterclass and concert. This time, we hope to deliver two workshops for young composers in London and Manchester, and we are currently applying for funding to realise this ambition.

In addition, John Rutter CBE will hold a Q&A session on score presentation before the submission deadline, providing composers with an opportunity to learn from his vast experience of publishing scores and notating music for their own submissions.

Find out more about the competition here.

Workshops in King’s Bruton

Article by Ashley Marshfield – Director of Choral Studies at King’s Bruton

On Friday 17th November, King’s were fortunate to welcome the Gesualdo Six and their leader Owain Park to give a series of masterclasses to the King’s School Choir, Chapel Choir and Chamber Choir.

The group put the choirs through their paces with real attention to detail and thoughts on making phrases sound as musical as possible. It was a fantastic experience and a real boost to have professional singers performing in amongst our own pupil voices. The whole day really lifted the sound of our choirs to an incredibly impressive level.

During the afternoon, The Gesualdo Six ran a workshop with prep school children from All Hallows and Millfield. The boys and girls had a superb time and experienced singing rounds, ‘mash-ups’ of popular music combined with some beat boxing! The afternoon finished with a short recital to demonstrate to an appreciative audience what they had achieved during the afternoon.

The day culminated with The Gesualdo Six giving an evening performance in the Memorial Hall. The concert was a well-attended event with first-class music ranging from Loquebantur by Thomas Tallis to a performance of an impressive work Sequence: ‘In Parenthesis’ composed by the group leader, Owain Park. Equally comfortable with more light-hearted works, the concert also included selections of Folksongs from the British Isles and Light Music. It was the culmination of what was an excellent day of choral music at King’s and a wonderful experience for all. The group thoroughly enjoyed their visit and are keen to come again!

The original article was titled: The Gesualdo Six Take King’s Choral Singing To An Even More Impressive Level


Photos shared with the kind permission of participating schools.

Composition Competition 2016

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Competition Judging Panel 2016The ensemble and the judges were amazed by the number of entries and the extremely high standard of work. It was particularly pleasing to receive submissions from all over the world from composers of all ages, and in a variety of interesting styles. We thoroughly enjoyed looking through all the entries, and it was wonderful to see composers writing so well for the group’s specific requirements. We are delighted to reveal the winners of our Composition Competition 2016.

The Winners

In the 18-and-under category, the winner is Joanna Ward, with For a number of coins.

In the 19-and-over category, the winner is Phillip Cooke, with Judas Mercator Pessimus.

The two winning works were given their world premieres on Sunday 19 June 2016 at St John’s Smith Square, and the winners formally presented with their awards. We also ran a composition workshop for entrants in the under-19 category with composer David Bednall; sixteen young composers attended to hear their works sung as part of a masterclass and concert.

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Competition Entries

The Gesualdo Six - Composition Panel 2


About the winners

Joanna Ward – 18-and-under category winner

The Gesualdo Six Composition Competition Winner - Joanna WardJoanna Ward is an 18 year old composer, pianist and singer from Newcastle upon Tyne. After enjoying composing at school, she was encouraged to broaden her horizons and take specialised composition lessons, and has done so at the Sage Gateshead’s Weekend School for the past two years. Her compositional successes thus far include being selected as a composer for the NYO; having pieces performed at the Sage (including a piece she wrote for their Youth Orchestra, Young Sinfonia); and having a piece workshopped and performed by Voces8. She also enjoys playing the piano and singing, and is a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. She is currently studying for A levels in Music, Maths and Physics, and hopes to read Music at university next year. https://soundcloud.com/joannamward

Phillip Cooke – 19-and-over category winner

PhiThe Gesualdo Six Composition Competition Winner - Phillip Cookellip Cooke was born in the Lake District in 1980 studying at Durham and Manchester Universities before taking a PhD at Cardiff University with Anthony Powers. He was a Junior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, Oxford University and Composition Tutor at Eton College before being appointed Lecturer in Music at Aberdeen University in 2013. His music has been performed across the country by many of the leading choirs and ensembles. He is active as a musicologist having co-written The Music of Herbert Howells in 2013 and is currently writing the first scholarly book on James MacMillan. He is married with two children, lives in rural Aberdeenshire and supports Everton. www.phillipcooke.com


About the 2016 Competition [archive]

Composers are invited to submit a new work for The Gesualdo Six’s inaugural Composition Competition. The winning works will be premiered by the group at St John’s Smith Square on Sunday 19 June 2016. A prize fund of £1000 is available.

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the 450th anniversary of Gesualdo’s birth. Works by Shakespeare and words set by Gesualdo make up some of the chosen texts for composers to set, alongside poems by Christina Rossetti and Emily Brontë.

This competition is open to all composers, divided into two age categories: 18 years and under, and 19 years and above. The deadline for submissions is Friday 15 April 2016 at 5pm.

The competition is supported by St John’s Smith Square and Novello & Co Ltd, part of the Music Sales Group of Companies.

The Gesualdo Six Composition Competition 2016

Shakespeare 400

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We have included two texts by William Shakespeare in our competition: passages from Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice.

Gesualdo 450

2016 marks the 450th anniversary of Gesualdo’s birth. We have included two texts that he set to music during his lifetime: Sparge la morte and Judas mercator pessimus.

Rossetti and Brontë

Composers are also invited to set poems by Christina Rossetti and Emily Brontë, A Birthday (My heart is like a singing bird) and Fall, leaves, fall.