Alex W, a Music Scholar at Glenalmond College and former pupil at Cargilfield Prep in Edinburgh, has just learnt that his submission to the University of Cambridge’s annual Corpus Christi College Essay Competition has been awarded first prize.
Winning the ‘Styler Choral Competition Prize’, Alex fought off competition from throughout the UK, while gaining £250 and a VIP lunch in Cambridge!
This hugely competitive competition has several categories and garners an international reputation: Corpus Rackham Essay Prize for Biology; Marlowe Prize for English; Corpus Dixit Essay Prize for Economics; Corpus Essay Prize for Geography; Languages and Linguistics; Corpus Bacon Prize for Politics and International Relations; Corpus Hoskyn Prize for Theology and the Corpus Prize for Harmony are the further categories.
Alex is aiming for a place to read Maths at Oxbridge and hopefully with the addition of an Organ Scholarship, in Michaelmas 2019.
Commenting on his achievement, Alex said: “I enjoy composing hugely and I was very happy to receive first prize.”
The annual Essay Competitions are open to all students in Year 12 (Lower Sixth, Year 13 in Northern Ireland and Year S5 in Scotland) in schools located in the UK. Each year, Glenalmond College enters a number of students. Teacher Jenny Davey is in charge of mentoring pupils through the tricky path of Oxbridge Applications: “This is a tremendous achievement for Alex and we are delighted to have a first place, having been close in the past.”
Essay entry stipulations are very particular: “For the Corpus Styler Composition Prize, the task for this year’s prize is to compose, in a style of your choice, a setting of the Latin text ‘O sacrum convivium' for SATB choir with organ or piano accompaniment. The text is commonly used on the Feast of Corpus Christi. O sacrum convivium! in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius: mens impletur gratia: et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur. Alleluia. (Translation: O sacred banquet! in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory to us is given. Alleluia.).
Guidelines are very specific: “The composition should be between two and four minutes length in performance; set in Latin text, not the English translation: there may be some occasional division of parts (e.g. 1st and 2nd sopranos etc) but not for the entirety of the piece; the organ or piano accompaniment need not be complex but should show some independence from the voice parts; credit will be given for a sensitive and appropriate setting of the text and a coherent overall structure and all entries may be handwritten (legibly!) or computer processed.”
Commenting on his pupil’s success, Dr Tim Ridley, Director of Music at Glenalmond College, said: “Alexander is a musical machine. It is remarkable that he has been able to show such skill in composing, beating off a formidable field from far and wide, as he only began composing comparatively recently. It is yet another string for Alex to add to his considerable portfolio of musical skills: organ (and potential Oxbridge Organ Scholar), piano, cello, Pipes & Drums bass drummer and choral conducting. We in the music department are very proud of all that he achieves.”
Below: Alex W playing the Piano Concerto in F# minor, Op. 20 at the Glenalmond College Gala Concert at the Perth Concert Hall on 22 April 2018