King James Bible Composition Awards

The King James Version of the Bible (KJV), also known as the Authorised Version, was published in 1611. Its 400th anniversary is being marked with a series of events arranged by the King James Bible Trust, among which is this competition for young composers, using texts from the KJV. This is known as the King James Bible Composition Awards.

We are delighted to announce the four short-listed works in each of the two categories:

Category A for an anthem or song for up to 4 vocal parts and keyboard, suitable for use in worship and composed with non-professional, less experienced, performers in mind.

Andrew-John Bethke - ‘Sing, O heavens’ (Isaiah 49 v13)

Thomas Hewitt Jones - ‘Thou art worthy’ (Revelation 4 v11)

Owain Park - ‘Let thine heart’ (Proverbs 3 v1-12)

Christopher Totney - ‘The Mystery of Christ’ (Isaiah 42 v14, 16; Revelation 22 v1-2; Colossians 4 v2-4)

Category B for an anthem for an experienced choir in up to 8 parts, unaccompanied or with organ, suitable for use in worship.

Andrew Cusworth - ‘Give ear, O ye heavens’ (Deuteronomy 32 v1-3)

William Dougherty - ‘Sing Unto the Lord’ (Isaiah 24 v 1-14, 12 v1-6)

Anna R Matthews - ‘Hast thou not known?’ (Isaiah 40 v28-31)

Zachary Wadsworth - ‘Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind’ (verses from the Book of Job)

The Finals

The finals, compèred by Katie Derham, will take place at the Temple Church, off Fleet Street, London EC4Y 7HL on Tuesday 17 May at 6.00pm. The compositions will be sung by the Royal College of Music Junior Department Chamber Choir, conducted by Joy Hill. Bob Chilcott and James MacMillan will give the adjudications. Tickets £20 (concessions £10) to include wine and canapés are available from

Information about the composers

Andrew-John Bethke is Director of Music at Christ Church (Constantia) in the South African city of Cape Town. He is currently completing a PhD in musicology at the University of Cape Town. Although he hopes to pursue an academic career, he is also vitally involved in the Capetownian church music scene, presenting choral day schools with the RSCM and working as a musical consultant for the diocesan and provincial Liturgical Committees. The bulk of his compositional output is for amateur church choirs.

Andrew Cusworth’s passion for composition emerged in his teens and grew alongside his other musical interests: 'cello, piano, organ, and conducting. He studied music and held an organ scholarship at Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating in 2006. He returned to Magdalene in 2010 to study for the new MMus in Choral Studies. Recent works include Factum est silentium: Antiphon for St Michael which was selected as winner of the New Music for St Paul’s composition competition in 2010.

Described by the Jeffrey Cornelius Tribute Award as, "showing exceptional promise", prizewinning composer William Dougherty (b. 1988) has had his works performed internationally at concerts, workshops, and events by leading ensembles including the BBC Singers, the Composer's Ensemble, Philadelphia's Network for New Music, and Dolce Suono's Metal and Wood Band in venues such as the Southbank Centre in London, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Palais Corbelli in Vienna, and the Trinity Chapel in Fontainebleau, France. He currently studies at the Royal College of Music.

Thomas Hewitt Jones is an award-winning composer of both concert and commercial music. Senior winner of the BBC Young Composer competition in 2003, he has since had works performed in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall. His music has been broadcast on Radio 3, and published by Faber, ABRSM and OUP. He has worked in Hollywood, and is the composer and conductor for the soundtracks of the 2012 Olympics Mascots animated films, recorded by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Born in Devon in 1983, Anna Matthews studied music at Durham University, specialising in composition under Martyn Harry and graduating in 2005 with first class honours and the Rosalind Dickinson Prize. She has worked with some of today’s leading performers including the Allegri Quartet, Chroma, Exaudi and Psappha. Since 2005, her musical focus has been on choral writing, inspired by the challenge of expressing textual meanings through music. Her work is influenced by amongst others: John Adams, Judith Weir and Benjamin Britten.

Owain Park, 17, started his musical journey with the piano and then became a chorister in Bristol which encouraged a love of choral music. He currently attends Wells Cathedral School as a Music Specialist, and is Wells Cathedral Junior Organ Scholar. His winning entry in the 2010 NCEM Composers’ Competition, Sweet Day, was performed by the Tallis Scholars, and later broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Another composition, Tears, Idle Tears, was selected as a ‘Highly Commended’ entry in the BBC Young Composers’ Competition, and was also broadcast.

Chris Totney was born in Stourbridge, West Midlands, in 1982. A chorister of St. Thomas’s Church, Stourbridge, he began studying the organ with Andrew Fletcher, from the age of twelve. He completed his Music degree at Durham University and spent two years as organ scholar of Durham Cathedral under the direction of James Lancelot, also gaining the RCO’s Choral Conducting Diploma. Chris is currently Assistant Director of Music at Dauntsey's School in Wiltshire, and Organist and Choirmaster of St John's Church, Devizes.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Yale University Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) is a composer of contemporary art music for a variety of forces, from art song and chamber music to opera and orchestral works. His recent song cycle, Pictures of the Floating World, was premiered at the Lincoln Center and his opera, Venus and Adonis, has been taken on by five different companies since its composition in 2004. Zachary is currently pursuing a DMA in music composition at Cornell University.

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