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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

Born in 1951, Cecilia McDowall has been described by the International Record Review as having a 'communicative gift that is very rare in modern music'. An award-winning composer, McDowall is often inspired by extra-musical influences, and her choral writing combines rhythmic vitality with expressive lyricism. Her music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading choirs—among them the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, and Oxford and Cambridge choirs—and is regularly programmed at prestigious festivals in Britain and abroad. In 2017 McDowall was selected for an Honorary Fellow award by the Royal School of Church Music.

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