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Faculty of Music

Sir David Willcocks 1919–2015

We were very sorry to hear of the death at the age of 95 of Sir David Willcocks, whose long association with Cambridge began in 1939, when he came to King’s College as an organ scholar. It is as Director of the Choir at King’s College from 1957 to 1974 that he will be especially remembered: it was during this period, with the growth in LP recording and touring, as also with the regular televising of Carols from King’s (based on the Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols), that the Choir became a national and indeed international institution. He was also a University Lecturer as well as serving as University organist and conductor of CUMS. His achievements outside Cambridge were equally noteworthy: from 1960 to 1998 he directed the Bach Choir, while he was Director of the Royal College of Music from 1974 to 1984. Recognition of his outstanding contribution to British music ranged from a knighthood in 1977 to a celebration concert in his honour at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010. His legacy continues not only in his exceptional list of recordings, carol arrangements and original compositions, but also through the many distinguished musicians whom he advised and helped, among them Simon Preston, Andrew Davis, Philip Ledger, and the original King’s Singers.