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Instructor’s composition to be performed for the royals


Zach Wadsworth_1.jpg
November 9, 2011

Music instructor’s winning composition to be performed for the royals.

by Jennifer Myers

Zachary Wadsworth, a composer and instructor for the music department, submitted the winning entry to a competition sponsored by the King James Bible Trust for an original musical score. The competition is part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of the King James Bible.

Wadsworth’s composition, created for choir and organ, will be performed at Westminster Abbey in London, England in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on November 16. It will be the featured anthem in a service that will close of a year of celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. Wadsworth’s composition will also be published by Novello, a prestigious publisher of sacred music.

“I have written a lot of sacred music and performed it, but this is the first competition that spoke directly to my area of expertise,” says Wadsworth, who completed his Doctorate from Cornell University just last spring. “I have been singing from Novello’s scores for years, so the idea that I get to be a part of this tradition is very special.”

Entrants were asked to select passages from the King James Bible that have not previously been set to music. Wadsworth chose several sections from the Book of Job.

“Most sacred music uses poetic texts,” says Wadsworth. “This bible is mostly in prose, so I looked for passages that seemed to have a kind of rhythm. The Book of Job does. It also articulates dramatic nature imagery and the mystery of god. It is beautifully written in old Shakespearean language. The best texts encourage you to make good compositional decisions.”

The piece, titled Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind, will be performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, which also performed at the recent royal wedding, and conducted by James O’Donnell. The Archbishop of Canterbury will preside over the service.

Wadsworth will travel to London with his family for the event. Following the service, he and other guests will be treated to a reception in the Jerusalem Chamber, the room in Westminster Abbey where eminent churchmen of the time originally translated the King James Bible to English in 1611. The Prince of Wales is the Patron for the King James Bible Trust and is also slated to attend the reception.

Wadsworth teaches courses in music theory and musicianship for the Department of Music. Various of his compositions have been performed previously by the Boston Metro Opera, the Washington National Opera Chorus and the Richmond Symphony Chorus to name a few.

Photo caption: Zachary Wadsworth is congratulated by the Dean of Westminster Abbey in spring 2011 when his composition was selected as the winner by the King James Bible Trust.