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Competition success leads to world première at Three Choirs Festival

Competition success leads to world première at Three Choirs Festival for Olivia Sparkhall

A new choral work is set to receive its first performance at Hereford Cathedral later this month as a result of a unique competition held recently by the Cathedral’s Voluntary Choir.

Composers were invited to write a short work to be used as the introit at Choral Evensong on Sunday 24 July. Five works were shortlisted for a workshop, at which each was rehearsed for only fifteen minutes, and then sung in front of the small audience. All the entries remained anonymous until final judging had been completed.

The winning composer was Olivia Sparkhall, and her composition, Hear, O ye Kings, will be sung as the introit at Evensong on 24 July at the Three Choirs Festival. Olivia is a choral conductor, composer and Head of Academic Music at Godolphin School in Salisbury, and was delighted to hear the news; she intends to be at the service.

“We were thrilled to receive so many entries from all over the world. The standard was excellent, and I am immensely grateful to all composers (whether or not shortlisted) who submitted pieces for consideration. It is amazing and heartening to see that there is so much high-quality composition taking place, and it is a hugely stimulating experience for our choir to sing five brand-new works in a single afternoon. Olivia’s piece impressed us in particular because its directness and originality will make a strong impact at the start of the service on 24 July.”

Peter Dyke, Cathedral Organist and Voluntary Choir director,
HCVC Comp judges photo by Charlotte Sleet

The choir is grateful too to the visiting judges, Thomas Lydon (Commissioning Editor, Oxford University Press) and the composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, as well as to Three Choirs Festival Chair Naomi Belshaw for her help with the shortlisting process, and to Elizabeth Allen for valuable support for the project.

Image Credits:   
Olivia Sparkhall: Ash Mills
Judging Panel: Charlotte Sleet
Caption for Judging Panel image: (left to right) Thomas Lydon, Peter Dyke, Cheryl Frances-Hoad