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Seán Doherty wins Choir & Organ composition competition with carol setting

- 23 July 2014

Delighted: Seán Doherty

Delighted: Seán Doherty

Seán Doherty has won the composition competition run by CM sister magazine Choir & Organ with his carol A Nywe Werk. Doherty declared himself ‘delighted’ to have won: ‘The opportunity to enter, with these jury members, was too good to miss.’

Entrants were asked to submit an Advent or Christmas carol for up to eight-voice unaccompanied choir (SATB div) of a suitable standard for the Choir of Merton College, and to a text of the composer’s choice. Doherty wrote an energetic SSAATTBB unaccompanied setting of the text of an anonymous 15th-century carol in the Selden manuscript: ‘A nywe werk is come on honed’ (A new work is come on hand).

Doherty, from Derry in Northern Ireland, studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, before engaging in postgraduate research at Trinity College, University of Dublin. Commissions have included a short opera, Number Seven, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and a choral work, Doire, to celebrate Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

A distinguished jury of Benjamin Nicholas (Reed Rubin Organist and director of music of Merton College, Oxford), Simon Halsey (chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, chorus director of the CBSO Chorus, and choral director of the LSO and Chorus), Donald Nally (director of The Crossing, and professor at Northwestern University), Meurig Bowen (artistic director, Cheltenham Festival) and Matthew Martin (composer) chose Doherty’s piece from a total of 27 entries sent from France, Germany, Poland, the US, and the UK. Runner-up was Balulalow by Edward Nesbit, and third equal were John Wadsworth’s A baby is a harmless thing, and Shine Forth by Barnaby Martin.

Seán Doherty wins a prize of £1,000 and will be interviewed in the November/December 2014 issue of Choir & Organ. The premiere of A Nywe Werk will be given by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, directed by Benjamin Nicholas, on 4 December at 8.30pm in Merton College Chapel, Oxford.

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