CCCS Carol Competition

Posted on 12th Feb, 2021

I was delighted to be able to spend the first part of Lockdown #3 poring over compositions submitted by boys for our Carol Competition. Entrants were invited to create their own entirely new carols, or to make an alternative setting of an existing carol. It was particularly heartening to receive submissions from such a wide age-range.

The thing that really stood out in the strongest entries was how eminently singable they were. For those of us who grew up in the time of dinosaurs, composing music usually involved a sheet of manuscript paper and a few hours at the keyboard trying out ideas one by one. It is all too tempting, in the era of Sibelius and Flat, for pupils to be overwhelmed by the possibilities of copy-and-pasted demisemiquavers, or colossal scores for virtual 40-piece marching bands... I was so impressed that the boys who entered the competition had thought carefully about instrumentation, phrasing, functional harmony and a balance between melody and accompaniment that genuinely worked. (Many entrants were choristers in one of our three choirs, so perhaps this shouldn't be a huge surprise!)

The Senior category was of a particularly formidable quality, and the strongest three entries are genuine ear-worms that will stay with a listener for days. Robert’s spooky re-creation of ‘Silent Night’ feels almost to have a hint of the blues about it, and his atmospheric use of ostinato makes this a very well-crafted piece indeed. Joint winners, Alex and Henry, had both created pieces which I felt could be handed directly to a choir, and would be practical to sing with almost no adjustments at all. Henry went down the route of four-part harmony in his new version of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, complete with a stylish descant. Alexander set a poem by Iris W. Bray for his brand new carol, showing a really intuitive understanding of melody in his well-balanced and lyrical vocal line. Ms Biddell.


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