The second of the 2020 Walter Hussey Composition Competition finalists that we’d like to introduce you is Mathilde Barclay from the UK.

Mathilde Barclay (b.1999)

Entry title:  Have you seen the wind?
Text from the poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

I am a composer and singer and have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Music from Goldsmiths University of London. Throughout primary and secondary school I found my love for the voice. I completed all of the necessary vocal grade exams as well as participating in every opportunity to be a part of a choir and performing many soloist parts. With Benjamin Britten, Thomas Tallis and many more inspiring me as I sang, I was awakened to the beauty of choral music. During my degree I explored this further and trained as a composer for film and choral music. I then specialised in jazz performance. The combination of all three elements with the various freedoms and restrictions of jazz music, I have begun to explore the voice in all its versatility. I feel very strongly that a singer can change the atmosphere of a great space but even more so, a composer has the privilege of seeing their deepest creative thoughts manifest. Choral music being the perfect medium of this expression.

The piece was written during the lockdown when I would escape to the local park for my ‘one outing of exercise’. I found staying at home tiresome and stressful, these few hours surrounded by nature provided the peace and quiet that I needed to get through the days. I was able to listen to the sounds of nature moving around me. I realized that no matter the strife, life will continue to grow and each day promises a ‘New Horizon’. The music reflects this comfort as well as the turmoil of uncertainty I felt within.

About the Walter Hussey Composition Competition, Mathilde said:

‘I discovered the Walter Hussey Composition Competition as I was surfing the web for opportunities to expand my knowledge of the industry. I was immediately attracted to the title ‘New Horizons’. It has been a tough year for the whole world and this was a great opportunity to take this experience and express my hopes and fears through the composition. I also feel that the nature of a choir is to bring people together and express what can seldom be expressed through talk. It has been a great opportunity for me to challenge myself.’

What our judges said about Mathilde’s entry:

    • Pleasing harmonies, but simplistic rhythmically
    • One of the best 4 part entries
    • Has a good atmosphere and a positive simplicity
    • A good demonstration of what (just) 4 voices can do.
    • Lovely text, which fits the theme
    • I like the way the opening builds and the suspensions get richer
    • This was the best of the four part entries
    • I admired the simplicity of this piece, from its use of only two voices at the start to no more than four parts and a solo voice
    • The focus is primarily on the beautiful text by Christina Rossetti, which is allowed the space for the listener to connect with
    • The soloist is deployed at the appropriate moment to symbolise the bird much like ‘The Blue Bird’ by Stanford

Next time:  Jake Huntley