Toronto Mendelssohn Choir names winner of 2020 Choral Composition Competition

Alastair Boyd

The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s Choral Composition Competition is in its sixth year. Each year, the Choir receives entries from emerging composers from across Canada. For 2020, the competition was for an a capella work for the Christmas season. The winner is Alastair Boyd from Toronto, Ontario for his piece A Hymn on the Nativity.

Alastair Boyd studied music at the University of Toronto and at the Guildhall School of Music in London (England). His principal composition teachers were Lothar Klein and Derek Holman (Toronto) and Francis Shaw (London). He lives in Toronto, where for 10 years he served as head of the University of Toronto Central Library cataloging department and worked as music cataloguer for the Faculty of Music Library.

Boyd’s winning work, A Hymn on the Nativity, is an SATB setting of words by English poet and playwright Ben Jonson. TMC associate conductor Simon Rivard, who led the three-member competition jury, shares what impressed them: “Mr. Boyd’s submission exhibits many features that seduced the jury: interesting choice of lyrics; the richness of the harmony; and a good balance between variety and unity between verses. We are looking forward to performing this piece in the coming month.”

As the winner of the competition, Alastair Boyd receives the $1000 Debbie Fleming Prize in Choral Composition and his work will be performed by the TMC as part of its Festival of Carols online program on December 16, 2020.

The Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition was created in 2015 to support the winner of the new annual TMC Choral Composition Competition for emerging Canadian composers. Debbie Fleming is a TMC alumna who sang in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for 40 years and who retired in June 2015.