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Conductor Sir David Willcocks dies aged 95

Sir David Willcocks

Choral conductor, composer and organist Sir David Willcocks has died aged 95.

Known as "England's choir master," he was famous for his choral arrangements of Christmas carols, many of which were written for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Cambridge.

Born in Newquay in 1919, he became a chorister at Westminster Abbey at the age of eight, where he was conducted by Sir Edward Elgar.

Sir David died peacefully at home on 17 September, said King's College.

His connection with the college began in 1939 when he became an organ scholar. He was elected to a fellowship in 1947 and subsequently held the post of Director of Music from 1957 to 1974, helping the college choir achieve huge success.

He then became the director of the Royal College of Music and, in 1981, was one of musical directors for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

For some 38 years from 1960, he also trained the Bach Choir - the most popular amateur choir in Britain - giving frequent premieres of works by contemporary British composers. On tour, they delivered the first performance of Britten's War Requiem in Italy, at La Scala, then in Japan, Portugal and the Netherlands.

He described his retirement from the choir in 1998 as "like the end of an affair".

Sir David was made a CBE in 1971 and was knighted in 1977.

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