Renowned composer Will Todd visits Oakham
11 January 2016
Oakham’s 120-voice Chapel Choir was privileged to welcome the composer and jazz pianist Will Todd as its guest at the annual Choir Dinner at the weekend. Will recently composed a setting of “God so loved the world” for Oakham which received its world première at the Peterborough Cathedral carol service, and it was wonderful for the choir to meet the man behind the music.
Will was moved to hear the choir sing his piece to him at the dinner, and then spoke engagingly in his after-dinner speech, having warmed up his audience with a few jazz-based rhythmic exercises. His eclectic work schedule embraces time at home composing (about which he spoke strongly of the need to “get on” with creative work of this nature) as well as working with countless choirs across the UK and internationally. He is convinced of the value of choral music to bring together people of all ages (from 3 to 93), and finds this endlessly inspiring in his work. He spoke intriguingly about his commitment to making fruit salad for his family every day, finally bringing this back to the value of working at something which is good for you, even when it is against the odds. Oakham pupils are hugely fortunate to have such vibrant choral experiences, and he finished with a challenge to them all to share its value and opportunities with others beyond Oakham.
The Choir Dinner is the Headmaster’s chance to thank the pupils for all their hard work in leading choral music in the school, and they reciprocated with some after-dinner entertainment. The Chamber Choir performed Roderick Williams’ arrangement of the spiritual “I want Jesus to walk with me”, and then the Form 7 pupils ended the evening with their own re-write of the hymn “Shine Jesus Shine” dedicated to the Director of Music!
Will’s newly written piece for Oakham will receive its London première given by the Chamber Choir on Friday 22 January when they visit London’s prestigious Brandenburg Choral Festival. This concert is part of the Chamber Choir’s build-up to their two competition finals in February – the Barnardo’s National Choral Competition and the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year semi-final.