Maggie Hamilton - EditorFrom the current issue of Choir & Organ
Which of us can go through the approaching Advent and Christmas season without remembering Sir David Willcocks? Whether we’re listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve, singing or accompanying one or more of his arrangements, or performing from volumes that he edited of Carols of Choirs
, he will be very present in our minds and hearts. Although he lived to a good age, we are still saddened by the loss of him; truly, hearing the news of his death on 17 September felt like the end of an era.
Sir David’s sphere of influence was not limited to the UK, nor even to the English-speaking world – I remember, for example, Scandinavian choir leaders at a Swedish Choral Directors convention recounting how, as students, they had made the pilgrimage to Cambridge. They did this not only for the practical purpose of witnessing Willcocks in action and learning from him how to draw the best out of a choir, going beyond the limits of what they thought possible; but also, in the process they found that they were making contact with the numinous.
I was similarly struck by one of the tributes to John Scott we have received in recent weeks identifying him as ‘one of Saint Thomas’s [Fifth Avenue] best evangelists’ through his music-making. John’s faith was important to him; but whatever one’s beliefs, religious or otherwise, it does seem that music has the power to take us to another plane, to put us in touch with something that is both beyond ourselves and a part of ourselves at a deep level; and however we engage with it – whether listening, or performing, or quietly creating instruments in the background, as did the gifted organ builder Martin Goetze – we are contributing towards something positive in the cosmos which helps to counterbalance the many negative forces. For that our thanks go to David, John and Martin, who may have left the world as we know it, but who live on in the many thousands of people whose lives they have touched.