Sir David as many TRBC Members will remember him: with his 90th-birthday cake at Messiah from Scratch in 2009.

Sir David Willcocks as many TRBC Members will remember him: with his 90th-birthday cake at Messiah from Scratch in 2009


The whole TRBC team was saddened to receive the following notification from Sir David Willcocks’s son, Jonathan shortly after noon on Thursday 17 September:

The family of Sir David Willcocks, CBE MC,
are very sorry to have to announce that Sir David
passed peacefully away at home in Cambridge earlier today.
A private funeral will be held, and further information about
a Memorial Concert will be offered at a later date.

Sir David’s immense contribution to the wider world of choral music will be extensively written about elsewhere. For the members of The Really Big Chorus in particular, he played an important role in taking the organisation to new heights after conducting his first Messiah from Scratch in 1979, and we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He gave us great support and encouragement by continuing to conduct our Royal Albert Hall concerts right up until his farewell appearance in May 2010, and he also directed TRBC singers on many overseas singing trips and cruises.

A Memorial Concert was given by the choir of King’s College Cambridge in King’s chapel on Sunday 22 November (very appropriately St Cecilia’s Day), conducted by the late Stephen Cleobury. The programme consisted of works with which Sir David had a particular association, and culminated in a performance of Fauré’s Requiem (baritone soloist Gerald Finley). 

Brian Kay, TRBC’s current Principal Conductor, pays warm tribute to Sir David: ‘The death of Sir David really does represent the end of an era and of a life which touched countless singers all over the world who, like me, will always remain profoundly grateful for his inspirational leadership. My personal debt stretches all the way back to 1962 …’ read more

Members of Sir David’s immediate family often accompanied him to our concerts and on our excursions overseas, and they are known to many of us. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Sir David’s wife Rachel, and to their children, Anne, Jonathan and Sarah. There have been extensive obituaries in the national and musical press. Here are links to some of them: