Yale acquires oral history of choral conductor Sir David Willcocks

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British choral conductor Sir David Willcocks (left) is pictured with organist, author, and oral historian William Owen, who collected the interviews recently acquired by Yale.

Yale University Library has acquired a substantial collection of interviews on the prominent choral conductor and composer, Sir David Willcocks. Perhaps best known as the director of music at King’s College, Cambridge University, Willcocks also held the directorship of London’s Royal College of Music, and published the popular anthologies “Carols for Choirs.”

The David Willcocks Oral History collection includes several interviews with Willcocks, as well as those with family and colleagues such as vocalist Dame Janet Baker, conductors Neville Marriner and Simon Carrington, and composer John Rutter. A complete list of interviews in the Willcocks collection is available at the library’s Oral History of American Music (OHAM) website.

The collection furthers OHAM’s objective to preserve the recorded recollections of living individuals who either made history or witnessed it. The material will be open, by permission, to scholars and students, and will be a major resource for research on 20th-century choral music. Oxford University Press recently published a book based on the interviews, “A Life in Music: Conversations with Sir David Willcocks and Friends,” edited by William Owen.

William Owen organized this oral history project and conducted all the interviews. Owen received a Master of Music degree from Yale, where he began his work in oral history.

OHAM is the preeminent organization dedicated to the collection and preservation of recorded memoirs of contemporary musicians. Since its founding in the 1960s, OHAM has worked to preserve the sound of artists’ voices and make this primary source material available to the public. At OHAM, thousands of recordings and transcripts are accessible to a wide range of users including scholars, musicians, students, arts organizations, and the media. 

See the OHAM website for more information.

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Media Contact

Amanda Patrick: amanda.patrick@yale.edu , 203-432-4484