Cecilia McDowall


Cecilia McDowall Born in London, 1951, Cecilia McDowall has won many awards, been short-listed eight times for the British Composer Awards and in 2014 won the Choral category of the British Composer Awards for her haunting work Night Flight which celebrates the pioneering flight of the American aviatrix Harriet Quimby across the English Channel. Her distinctive style speaks directly to listeners, instrumentalists and singers alike. Her most characteristic works fuse fluent melodic lines with occasional dissonant harmonies and rhythmic exuberance. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including The BBC Singers, The Sixteen, Oxford and Cambridge choirs, Kansas City Chorale, ensembles, and at festivals worldwide.

Recent commissions include When time is broke (Three Shakespeare Songs) for The BBC Singers and Adoro te devote for Westminster Cathedral Choir. The Three Latin Motets have been recorded by the renowned American choir Phoenix Chorale, conductor Charles Bruffy; their Chandos recording Spotless Rose won a Grammy award and was nominated for Best Classical Album. The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain commissioned a work focusing on “children in conflict”, called Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo, a cantata based on the real-life escape of Nujeen Mustafa and her sister from war-torn Aleppo; it tells of their harrowing journey across some 3,500 miles, through seven countries, eventually arriving in Germany with relief and great gratitude.

In May, 2019, Wimbledon Choral Society and the Philharmonia Orchestra premiered McDowall’s large-scale choral work The Da Vinci Requiem to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. The work received its first performance on 7 May in the Royal Festival Hall, London. McDowall’s works are regularly broadcast on BBC Radio and readily available on CD.

In 2013 McDowall received an Honorary Doctorate from Portsmouth University and in 2017 was selected for an Honorary Fellow award by the Royal School of Church Music. In 2019 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from West London University. In 2021 Naxos released a CD of her entire organ catalogue, performed by sub-organist of St Paul’s cathedral William Fox, and The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, released a CD of her choral music on the Hyperion label in April. In 2020 McDowall was presented with the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for “outstanding music collection” for a “consistently excellent body of work” from The Ivors Academy (formerly the British Composers’ Academy).

Biographical Details

Works by Cecilia McDowall

Festival performances of works by Cecilia McDowall

Festival commissionWorld premiereUK premiereLondon premiere

LFCCM 2024

LFCCM 2023

LFCCM 2022

LFCCM 2021

LFCCM @ Home

LFCCM 2019

LFCCM 2018

LFCCM 2017

LFCCM 2016

LFCCM 2015

LFCCM 2014

LFCCM 2013

LFCCM 2012

LFCCM 2011

LFCCM 2010

LFCCM 2009

LFCCM 2008

LFCCM 2006

LFCCM 2005

Recorded performances of works by Cecilia McDowall

LFCCM 2021

LFCCM 2015