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Cecilia McDowall

b. 1951

'Cecilia McDowall is one of the leading choral and vocal composers of her generation.'

Musical Opinion

'McDowall has long had a special gift for choral writing.'

The Birmingham Post

View works by Cecilia McDowall


Composer News

In December 2020, the Ivors Academy awarded Cecilia the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Works Collection. This award recognizes a UK composer who has written a consistently exceptional body of classical compositions, and is awarded in the form of a statuette of Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyric poetry. You can read the official press release from OUP here.

Cecilia's latest carol, Brightest Star, premiered in Paris in October 2019, and was commissioned by IFAC for the International Competition for Young Conductors in collaboration with the ECA. The carol marks the centenary of the founding of The International Federation of the Red Cross. The title, Brightest Star, references the Red Cross ship, the Vega, which brought much-needed food and medical supplies at Christmas time to Channel Islanders on the brink of starvation during German occupation.

Composer Biography

Based in London, Cecilia McDowall is perhaps best known for her choral works, though her output extends far beyond this and into the realm of organ music. She has won many awards including the British Composer Award Choral category in 2014 for her haunting work, Night Flight. McDowall’s distinctive style fuses fluent melodic lines with occasional dissonant harmonies and rhythmic exuberance. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs and artists, including the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, Oxford and Cambridge choirs, ensembles, and at festivals worldwide. One of her most recent CDs has been recorded by William Fox on Naxos of her entire organ catalogue published by OUP. Hyperion has released a CD of her choral and organ music performed by The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conductor, Stephen Layton. In December 2020 McDowall was presented with the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for ‘outstanding works collection’ for a ‘consistently excellent body of work’. This was a ‘gift’ from The Ivors Academy.

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