Winners chosen in Write a Tune for the Chimes Competition

The winning entries have been chosen in our competition to write a new tune for the Gloucester Cathedral Chimes,launched in May, and their tunes have been scheduled to be heard in Three CHoirs festival week.

Winning entrants were able to work with the cathedral’s honorary chimekeeper Jonathan MacKechnie-Jarvis, who programmes the chimes, to test their tunes and make any necessary adjustments before the festival. Entries were judged anonymously by Jonathan MacKechnie-Jarvis, Alexis Paterson (chief executive of the Three Choirs Festival), and The Revd Canon Celia Thomson (Gloucester Cathedral).

'The tunes submitted encompassed a remarkable range of styles,' says Mr MacKechnie-Jarvis, 'and generally showed a good grasp of the possibilities and the constraints involved. Some of the successful entries are ideal for inclusion in the regular chime tune schedules, while others are more extended pieces, better suited to special "concert" playings, as will be heard each evening during Three Choirs Festival week.'

Two outstanding entries were awarded joint first place: Loveday’s Chime and Gloria Patri. The former takes its name from Thomas Loveday, the Gloucester blacksmith who repaired the mediaeval chime machine in 1525. It was written by John LeGrove who is a class music teacher from Glossop, Derbyshire. His previous works include a song cycle premiered by James Bowman. As a ringer at Manchester Cathedral, John is well acquainted with the ways of church bells.

Gloria Patri makes use of themes by John Sanders and Herbert Howells. It is the work of Douglas Mason, who was a chorister at Gloucester under John Sanders from 1981 to 1987 and now teaches at Chetham’s School
of Music. As a composer, he has had many choral and instrumental pieces published and performed both in the UK and abroad.

Joint second places went to two very tuneful pieces, Windswept and Sweet Meadow. The
first was written on a windy day by Kathryn Rose, organist of St Andrews, Leytonstone. She also plays the horn, piano, serpent, portable harmonium and ‘just about anything else that doesn’t fight back too vigorously’.

Sweet Meadow was composed by Sheila Wilkins, who is a jazz singer based in Cheltenham. She says that she tried to imagine the view from the top of the tower on a sunny day, and hoped her tune ‘would make people smile and put a spring in their step’.

Three other tunes were highly commended: Festival Variations by Nicholas Hare from 
St Albans, Gloucestershire Skies by Peter Walters of Northampton and Through Crécy Window
 by Matt Welch of Bristol. Like all the selected entries, these showed careful construction and an originality of response to the considerable challenge of writing for the limited compass of the chimes.

We are grateful not only to those whose works were selected, but to all those who submitted entries. They have created a range of new melodies for our unique chimes compass of ‘an octave and a minor third below’. We hope you will share our enjoyment of them.

The winning competition entries will be heard at the beginning of the special evening chime playings, starting at 7.15 pm, as follows:

Saturday 23 July

Gloria Patri Douglas Mason Sunday 24 July

Loveday’s Chime John LeGrove Monday 25 July

Festival Variations Nicholas Hare Tuesday 26 July

Windswept Kathryn Rose Wednesday 27 July

Gloucestershire Skies Peter Walters Thursday 28 July

Sweet Meadow Sheila Wilkins

Friday 29 July

Through Crécy Window Matt Welch

The daytime schedule for festival week will be as follows:

Saturday 23 July

Mr Malchair’s tune

‘La Volta’ (Terpsichore) Praetorius

 Loveday’s Chime John LeGrove

Sunday 24 July

Easter Song

Urbs Beata mode ii

Gloria Patri Douglas Mason

Monday 25 July

Chorus novae Jerusalem mode iii

Lead me, Lord S S Wesley

Sweet Meadow Sheila Wilkins

Tuesday 26 July

Mr Jefferies’ tune

Salve Regina mode v

Santa Maria, strela do dia

Wednesday 27 July

Dr Hayes’ tune


Furry Day Carol

Thursday 28 July

Dr Stephens’ tune

Kyrie and Agnus Dei (Missa de Angelis)

Friday 29 July

Christe redemptor omnium mode i

Seek ye first Karen Lafferty

As the deer pants Martin Nystrom

Saturday 30 July

Mr Malchair’s tune

Windswept Kathryn Rose

Holsworthy Church Bells S S Wesley