Nicholas Howard, Deputy Head Chorister at Durham Cathedral has won the Junior Section of the national Choir Schools’ Association David Willcocks Composition Competition.

As Durham Cathedral Choir’s Christmas season gets underway, Nicholas, aged 12 and in Year 8 at Durham School, part of the Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation, found out earlier this month that he is the junior winner for his composition, ’Sing to the Lord a new song’.

The competition is in its 40th year and it has proved popular over the years with many choristers keen to try their hand at putting together their own composition. Nicholas, from Cumbria, loves composing and wants to follow his passion and study it in the future, so the competition was the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his talent. Nicholas says, ‘I worked on the piece all summer holiday and I was very excited to hear that I had won.’

As the seventh boy in his family to go to choir school, his musical passion started at a young age. He particularly likes Baroque music but his current favourite composer is Shostakovich. He is working towards grade 7 oboe and piano and aspires to play the baroque cornetto. Nicholas has dedicated his winning piece to the Durham Cathedral choir and the Master of the Choristers, Daniel Cook.

Mr Kieran McLaughlin, Principal of Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation said, “Nicholas winning the Willcocks Composition Competition is a brilliant achievement. Our Cathedral Choristers are among some of our most dedicated, hard-working and passionate pupils so it is great to see that Nicholas has been recognised for his composition talents”.

With music being such an integral part of Durham Cathedral’s history for nearly 1000 years, the 2021 Christmas appeal at the cathedral aims to support more young people from the region to realise their potential by becoming part of the choir and experiencing a life-changing education within Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation.

Matthew Mills, Relationship and Development Manager at the cathedral says, “There are many young people around the region who have a passion for music, just like Nicholas,  but unfortunately financial barriers often prevent them from fulfilling their musical ambitions.”

The fundraising campaign has got off to a great start and one of the cathedral’s generous supporters, a longstanding friend of the choral foundation, has offered to match the first £1500 raised through this appeal, £1 for £1.

Matthew continues, “With this campaign, we would like to take school fees away altogether for those pupils most in need of support. Proceeds from our appeal will provide means-tested bursaries, as well as funding the choir’s outreach work, sharing the joy of music with communities across the region.”

With the festive season well underway, many people will visit the cathedral this month to hear the choir sing as part of their Advent & Christmas celebrations. People can see Nicholas and the other choristers perform at upcoming services and events.

To find out more about Christmas services, choir performances or to donate to the campaign and help support the future of music at Durham Cathedral visit .

To listen to Nicolas’s winning composition, ’Sing to the Lord a new song’, visit 

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