Composition competition winners

Read our Press Release here.

We are pleased to announce the result of our recent composition competition for an anthem written for competent SATB choir with organ accompaniment.

After much discussion, the adjudicators (Dr Barry Rose, Jeremy Jackman, Sam Hanson and Tim Ruffer) agreed to award the prize jointly to two composers: to David Harris for Hail, gladdening light and to John Sturt for Te lucis ante terminum. They will share the prize of £1,000, and their anthems will be performed during Evensong on 10th August 2024 at Wimborne Minster. We hope that the composers may be able to be present.

We are delighted that the Royal School of Church Music has signified its willingness to publish both pieces.

David Harris grew up in south-east London, attending St Dunstan’s College, Catford, and learning piano from an early age. He began organ lessons with Paul Gobey at the age of 13, and subsequently won organ scholarships at St George’s Parish Church, Beckenham, under Nigel Groome, and later at Portsmouth Cathedral, under David Price and Oliver Hancock. He studied at Durham University, becoming Organ Scholar at St Oswald’s Parish Church, Durham during his first year, and Director of Music at the start of his second year.

Since graduating, he has maintained his position at St Oswald’s alongside a portfolio of teaching and freelance music-making across Durham. He was a finalist in the BBC R3 Carol Competition in 2021. Read more on David’s website.

In addition to his composing activities, John Sturt is also a copyist, bass-baritone singer, conductor, and violinist. He comes from a musical family: his father, an engineer by trade, played the clarinet and continues to dabble in composition as a hobby, and his mother is a cello and piano teacher. His own musical journey started with violin lessons aged six and, after a battle with cancer dashed his hopes of going into the RAF, he started composition at the age of 14. He took lessons from Robert Hinchliffe, subsequently accepting a place at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he studied under Dr Deirdre Gribbin, Dr Paul Newland, Errollyn Wallen MBE, Dr Stephen Montague and Soosan Lolavar. He graduated with a Masters Degree in Summer 2020.

John Sturt’s music is most often distinguished by very rich harmony, surprising harmonic changes, and a penchant for alluding to folk music in his melodic material. He has written for solo performers, chamber groups, choirs, electronics, and orchestras, and he has received several accolades for his work. In 2017, he won joint prize in the Ludlow English Song Weekend Composition Competition; his cantata Beyond the Cradle of Humanity was premiered in 2018 and won him the Trinity Laban Silver Medal for Composition. In 2020, John worked with librettist Sophia Chapadjiev to create the opera Minutes to Midnight, dealing with themes of nuclear standoff, crushing responsibility, and moral dilemmas. In 2023, John became one of the featured composers in the Choir and Organ ‘New Music’ series.

He lives in East Sussex, and divides his time between composing, typesetting/copying and performing, and volunteering on the steam locomotives of the Bluebell Railway. Read more on John’s website.

Enquiries can be directed to the Laudemus! administrator, Marianne Barton: