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Canterbury Chorister wins David Willcocks /CSA organ award

15 year-old Becky-Ellice Creighton, a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, is the Sir David Willcocks Organ Award Scholar for 2020-22. Becky-Ellice, a Year 11 pupil at Highworth Grammar School, Ashford, will study with Dr David Newsholme, Director of the Girls’ Choir and Assistant Organist.

Becky-Ellice is the fifth holder of the award which is administered by the Choir Schools’ Association (CSA) and made possible by the Sir David Willcocks Music Trust.  It is designed to help musically-talented choristers start playing the organ, and covers tuition over six terms.  At the same time she will be entitled to free Student Membership of the Royal College of Organists (RCO).

The David Willcocks Music Trust was set up in honour of Sir David Willcocks, the most influential choirmaster of his generation. Sir David was Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge for 17 years and conducted the Bach Choir for 38 years. The Trust supports the musical training of young musicians and choristers including the annual CSA composition competition. Becky-Ellice is the fifth chorister to hold the Organ Award.

“I don’t think I will ever forget the exhilarating feeling of hearing the organ for the first time in Canterbury Cathedral”, says Becky-Ellice.   “Had someone told me on that Christmas Eve so many years ago that I would one day have the privilege of being the Sir David Willcocks Organ Scholar, I wouldn’t have believed it.  I am excited to start work and to do my very best to justify the faith that has been placed in me by Jonathan Willcocks, CSA and the RCO.”

David Newsholme comments: “Becky-Ellice joined the Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir last year and her contribution has been consistently outstanding; she is a first-rate musician with un-failing commitment and enthusiasm. Her obvious talent makes her an ideal candidate for learning the organ, and I look forward to starting lessons as soon as possible.”

Simon Williams of the Royal College of Organists says: “We are delighted to support the CSA Sir David Willcocks Organ Scholarship by offering holders of the award complementary Student Membership and send our congratulations to the latest recipient, Becky-Ellice Creighton. We look forward to following her progress and supporting her in her studies.”

Congratulating Becky-Ellice, Mark Cheesman, Director of Music Specialism at Highworth Grammar School adds: “As well as her many contributions to the musical life in the school, she also sings with the Kent County Choir and the National Childrens’ Choir. She is a Grade 8 pianist and also principal flautist in our senior orchestra and a member of the school Folk Band which has performed at the National Festival of Music for Youth.

“Her interest in this organ scholarship stems from her love of the repertoire she has encountered at Canterbury Cathedral. Without this funding it would be impossible for her to pursue this new avenue. She certainly has the passion and is totally committed to making music her life.”

Felix Kirkby, the newly appointed Organ Scholar at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford and the first David Willcocks Scholar in 2014 said: “Being awarded the organ scholarship at Christ Church has been the honour and privilege of my entire life, not to mention something which I’ve been working towards for longer than I can remember. I doubt it would even have been possible without the generous support of the Willcocks Award, and I strongly encourage anyone who wishes to do something similar in the future but – like me – doesn’t necessarily have the means to achieve it to apply and (hopefully) outdo me one day!”

The Canterbury Cathedral Girls’ Choir was formed in 2014. Since then the choir has performed at numerous events of significance, including the service held to mark the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women priests and the consecration service of the Bishop of Europe. More recently they sang at a service of dedication and unveiling of two royal statues, attended by HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, and the consecration service for the first female diocesan bishop. You can find out more about our Girls’ Choir here.

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