Chichester composer Jonathan Willcox honoured to attend BEM investiture

The ceremony took place at Ede's House, in Chichester.The ceremony took place at Ede's House, in Chichester.
The ceremony took place at Ede's House, in Chichester.
A Chichester composer has spoken of the honour he felt after attending his New Year’s Honours investiture last Friday (June 14).

Jonathan Willcocks was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in an official ceremony at Ede’s House in Chichester on Friday, having been named in the King’s New Year’s Honours List.

Mr Willcocks, who serves as Musical Director of the Chichester singers, Guildford Choral Society and the professional chamber orchestra Southern Pro Musica, was given the award for his services to music, and lifetime of devotion to promoting classical music for young people.

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Born in Worcester and taking an honours degree in music at Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr Willcocks’ music is well known and widely recorded. His work has been played at the BBC Proms and his choral repertoire has been nominated for the Academy of Composers and Songwriters’ prestigious British Composer Awards.

"It was a lovely occasion,” he said of Friday’s event. “And it was very personal; it was laid on just for me, I wasn’t part of some big queue of people, and the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex just couldn’t have been more charming."

Although Mr Willcocks received the BEM for decades of work across a wide variety of positions, he spoke at length about the importance of The Chichester Singers to his working life, and the organisation’s place in his heart. “They’ve been a huge part of my working life. I’ve been musical director now for 45 years. They’ve been very generous in their support. I think all of the organisations I work with were maybe consulted and added their heft to the recommendation. I don’t really know how the whole process works, but I’ve written letters of recommendation for other people very deserving of awards.”

Despite having been involved in the process previously, Mr Willcocks said his own award came as a huge surprise: “I didn’t expect it really. Often classical music isn’t that high on the radar for public honours, and I’m really delighted that choral music, that singing, and music in the community more widely, has been recognised like this. One hopes it does a very small little modest thing just to emphasise just how important the performing arts are to quality of life – particularly for young children.”