New Commission: Joanna Ward

We are terrifically excited to share a photo of our first commission as a group, ‘Christus factus est’ from British composer Joanna Ward.

Joanna Ward received first prize in the under-18 category of our 2016 Composition Competition, and when the opportunity for a new setting of this text arose we really wanted to see what her response would be. 

We’ve tried a few bars over Zoom and it’s going to be one of our new favourites, and hopefully yours too.

The premiere was scheduled for our performance at the Aldeburgh Festival on 26 June 2020, which has unfortunately been cancelled. However, we look forward to revealing a new date to showcase Joanna’s latest work soon.

Find out more about Joanna’s music here.

Composition Competition 2016

Our first Composition Competition was held in 2016, in conjunction with St John’s Smith Square and Music Sales. The judges were John Rutter, Stephen Layton, Kate Johnson, Owain Park and members of the group.

We were all amazed by the number of entries (173) 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 enjoyed looking through all the entries, and it was wonderful to see composers writing so well for the group’s specific requirements.

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. 


Young Composers’ Workshop

In October 2016, we ran a composition workshop for entrants in the 18-and-under category with composer David Bednall; sixteen young composers attended to hear their works sung as part of a masterclass and concert.


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.