Shropshire-based pianist, organist, conductor and composer, wins St Paul's Choral Composition Competition
06 November 2019
A Shropshire-based pianist, organist, conductor and composer, has won the New Music for St Paul's Choral Composition Competition.
Derry Bertenshaw won the Competition with a setting of his own Biblical paraphrase, The Wedding of Water and Wine.
Contestants were challenged to write a work based on a text associated with either with the Baptism of Christ or the Wedding at Cana, scored for unaccompanied soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices.
At the final held at St Paul's on 28 October, Derry's work was performed by the Consort of St Paul's Cathedral alongside three other finalists' compositions, all of which were judged by a panel consisting the Cathedral's Director of Music, Andrew Carwood; the Precentor, the Reverend Canon James Milne; the celebrated composer, Cecilia McDowall; and renowned investment fund manager and composer, Anthony Bolton.
Derry’s prize is a première performance of his work, sung by the full Choir of St Paul's Cathedral at the Epiphanytide Carol Service on Sunday 12 January. He also receives £1,000. The competition is generously supported by the Boltini Trust.
Reflecting on his success, Derry said "I am delighted and honoured to have won the prestigious New Music at St Paul's Composing Competition 2019. To hear my anthem Wedding of Water and Wine performed in the iconic setting of St Paul's Cathedral was an unforgettable experience. Congratulations to St Paul's Cathedral Consort on their dynamic performance of my piece at the Finals. I am excited at the prospect of hearing the first public performance by the full choir in January. I'm extremely grateful to the Boltini Trust for supporting this competition and giving opportunities such as this for aspiring composers like myself."
Commenting on the competition and the winning entry, William Fox, Sub-Organist of St Paul's, who co-ordinated the Competition, said: "We asked competitors to write a piece to enhance our liturgy: we sensed a paucity of compositions for the Baptism of Christ and for the Wedding at Cana.
"Derry’s words are inventive and his setting of them uses the acoustic of St Paul’s to great effect, alternating stately acclamations with verve-filled sections. The bold harmonic language, effective use of texture, and sensitive writing for voices characterise this extrovert piece, celebrating Christ’s first miracle.
"Four very different compositions were performed and the overall standard was exceedingly high – the judges were faced with a difficult decision when it came to choosing a winning piece."
Derry Bertenshaw is a Shrewsbury man born and bred. He gained a First Class Honours Degree in music and was awarded a Major State Studentship from The British Academy to study for a PhD in music. His Doctoral thesis and academic articles have been cited in the 2001 edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Since 2004 he has been Organist and Choirmaster of St Giles' Church, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. After a number of years involved in musicology, Derry returned to his first love, composition. He has composed chamber, orchestral, choral, vocal, and solo instrumental works and music for the liturgy. He has entered five composing competitions and won three. His music has been performed, among other places, in Shrewsbury, Liverpool (by members of The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), Hereford Cathedral and Los Angeles. His music has been published in Pianist magazine and recorded at the Royal College of Music for its covermount CD. His Sonatina for Oboe & Piano has also been accepted for publication.