Cecilia McDowall studied piano and composition, graduating in 1975. She has won many awards, including the British Composer Award (Choral category) in 2014 for Night Flight. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, ensembles, and at major festivals both in Britain and abroad, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio and worldwide. Commissions include from the BBC, the Welsh Chamber Opera, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus, Westminster Cathedral and the City of London Sinfonia. Much of her music has been recorded, including Phoenix Chorale’s recording of Three Latin Motets, which won a Grammy Award in 2009 and was nominated for Best Classical Album. Cecilia is signed by Oxford University Press as an 'Oxford' composer and she is 'composer-in-residence' at Dulwich College, London.
Qualifications And Background
Her recent commissions include the Musicians Benevolent Fund St Cecilia anthem (Deus, portus pacis) for the service of St Cecilia at St Paul's Cathedral, sung by the joint choirs of Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral, and liturgical works for Durham and Liverpool Cathedrals; a BBC commission (Bless to me this day) for Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir, the winner of the BBC Radio 3 2008 Choir of the Year; a joint PRSF commission for the Welsh Chamber Orchestra and London Mozart Players (Theatre of Tango); the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus in conjunction with the NE Community Choir (Northlight) andSeventy Degrees Below Zerofor the City of London Sinfonia and tenor, Robert Murray, (a commission to mark the centenary of Scott's death in 1912).
Much of her music is on disc; the Deux-Elles label has recorded her works for flute and piano and wind ensemble, performed by Ensemble Lumière and pianist Richard Shaw (DXL1033) and includes the specially commissionedArctic Circle(for piano and wind quintet). In 2004 Dutton Epoch released the first CD of her choral works performed by Rachel Nicholls (soprano), Frances Bourne (mezzo-soprano), City of Canterbury Chamber Choir, Orchestra Nova and conductor, George Vass (CDLX 7146) and in 2005 a CD of orchestral and chamber music (CDLX 7159). In 2006Three Antiphonswere recorded by an international trumpet ensemble consisting of players from the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic and released on the trumpeter Paul Archibald's label, Brass Classics. In 2007 the Dutton label recorded a further CD (CDLX 7197) of McDowall's choral work with City ofCanterbury Chamber Choirand the Joyful Company of Singers. Four more CDs of McDowall's music were released in 2008, including the Chandos recording by the highly renowned American choir, Phoenix Chorale, entitledSpotless Rose(Hymns to the Virgin Mary). In 2009 Dutton Epoch released another Choral CD (CDLX 7230) and in 2012 Dutton will issue the fifth CD which includes The Choir of Merton College singingShipping Forecastwhich gained considerable national media attention in 2011 at the time of the premiere given by the Portsmouth Choral Society.