The year was 1968 and I was a young postgraduate music student walking down King’s Parade in Cambridge when I saw the revered figure of David Willcocks, director of King’s College Choir, striding towards me. He had rock-star status in Cambridge and beyond, and although I knew him from his weekly harmony and counterpoint classes which I had attended, I wasn’t quite sure whether to nod politely, say ‘good afternoon, Mr Willcocks’, or hurry past hoping he hadn’t noticed me. Fortunately he spoke first.
“You’ve got to have technique: composition is like aircraft design; you can’t just go in and do it without training. You’ll never find your voice if you don’t have the technique to express what you want to say.” One of the most prolific of choral music composers, John Rutter is known throughout the world for music which has sustained choirs for almost half a century. Here he is in dialogue with composer Bob Chilcott.