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David Willcocks

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration

{David Willcocks}
Sir David Willcocks
Photo by Taylor Photographics

For his contributions to the world of music and choral performance, Sir David Willcocks was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 30.

Born in Newquay, Cornwall, England, Sir David began his musical career as a boy chorister in the choir of Westminster Abbey. His first professional appointments were as organist of the cathedrals of Salisbury and Worcester. His international reputation was established when in 1957 he became director of music at King's College, Cambridge, where he developed, with distinction, its great musical tradition. He made numerous recordings with the King's College Choir and leading British orchestras and toured in many countries. At Cambridge he also held appointments as university organist, university lecturer and conductor at the Cambridge University Chorus and Orchestra.

From 1960 to 1998 Sir David was the musical director of the Bach Choir (London), which, since its foundation in 1875, has given first performances of several important works. With the Bach Choir, he gave the first performances of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in Italy at Perugia, Milan and Venice in 1963. He later introduced the work in Japan, Hong Kong, Portugal and the Netherlands. From 1974 to 1984 he was director of the Royal College of Music in London.

Sir David appears frequently as a conductor in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has also paid many visits to New Zealand and Australia, Hong Kong and South Africa for concerts. In 1992 he was presented with the Harvard Glee Club medal and in 1999 he received the distinguished Musician Award of the University of Toronto. He is an honorary fellow of King's College, Cambridge and has received honorary degrees in England from the universities in Bradford, Bristol, Exeter, Leicester and Sussex, and from the Royal College of Music in London; in the United States from Luther College (Iowa), St. Olaf College (Minnesota) and Westminster College (New Jersey); and in Canada from the Universities of Toronto and Victoria.

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration