Seán Doherty wins Merton College/Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2014

Seán Doherty has won the Choir & Organ Composition Competition 2014, held in partnership with Merton College, with his carol A Nywe Werk. Seán declared himself "delighted" to have won:

"The opportunity to enter, with these jury members, was too good to miss."

Entrants were asked to submit an Advent or Christmas carol for an unaccompanied choir of up to eight voices, of a suitable standard for the College's Choir, and to a text of the composer’s choice. Seán wrote an energetic setting of the text of an anonymous 15th-century carol in the Selden manuscript: ‘A nywe werk is come on honed’ (A new work is come on hand).

Seán, who hails from Derry in Northern Ireland, studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, before engaging in postgraduate research at Trinity College Dublin. His commissions include a short opera, Number Seven, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and a choral work, Doire, to celebrate Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

A distinguished jury consisting of Merton's Reed Rubin Organist and Director of Music Benjamin Nicholas, Simon Halsey (chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, chorus director of the CBSO Chorus, and choral director of the LSO and Chorus), Donald Nally (director of The Crossing, and professor at Northwestern University), Meurig Bowen (artistic director, Cheltenham Festival) and Matthew Martin (composer) chose Seán’s piece from a total of 27 entries sent from France, Germany, Poland, the US, and the UK. Runner-up was Balulalow by Edward Nesbit, and third equal were John Wadsworth's A baby is a harmless thing, and Shine Forth by Barnaby Martin.

Seán Doherty receives a prize of £1,000 and will be interviewed in the November/December 2014 issue of Choir & Organ. The premiere of A Nywe Werk will be given by the Choir, directed by Benjamin Nicholas, on 4 December in the Chapel.