Colin Mawby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colin Mawby

Colin Mawby at
St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, in 2011
Born(1936-05-09)9 May 1936
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Died24 November 2019(2019-11-24) (aged 83)
EducationRoyal College of Music
  • Choral conductor
  • Composer
  • Academic teacher
AwardsOrder of St. Gregory
Mawby (left) with Michael Scholl of Biederitzer Kantorei [de] in 2007

Colin Mawby KSG (9 May 1936 – 24 November 2019) was an English organist, choral conductor and composer. From 1961 he was Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, then from 1981 he was the choral director at Radio Telefís Éireann. He composed masses dedicated to specific choirs, including in Germany. He was awarded Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory in 2006.

Early life and education[edit]

Mawby was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on 9 May 1936.[1] He received his earliest musical education at Westminster Cathedral choir school, where he acted as assistant to George Malcolm at the organ from the age of 12.[2] The boys sang 14 or 15 services a week and had 10 hours of rehearsals a week, learning plainchant and polyphony.[3] He subsequently studied at the Royal College of Music with Gordon Jacob and John Churchill.[3] During this time he worked with Adrian Boult and Malcolm Sargent.[2]


He became Assistant[2] and then in 1961 Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.[4] Whilst there he conducted the first performance of the early music vocal ensemble Pro Cantione Antiqua. He also collaborated with the London Mozart Players, the Wren Orchestra, the Belgian Radio Choir and the BBC Singers. He performed for the Queen of the United Kingdom at St Paul's Cathedral, for President John F. Kennedy at Westminster Cathedral, and at St. Peter's Basilica for Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.[5]

In 1976 he moved to Dublin where he became choral director at Radio Telefís Éireann in 1981. He founded the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and the RTÉ children's choir (RTÉ Cór na nÓg) in 1985. He also founded the RTÉ Chamber Choir.[3] Mawby retired to East Anglia in 2001 but returned to County Dublin in Ireland briefly, moved to London, then Dublin again before returning to London. In 2006, Mawby was awarded by Pope Benedict XVI the Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory, "in gratitude for past and continuing services to church music".[6][7]


Mawby's music for the English Catholic liturgy is prolific. He composed several masses, motets, antiphons and hymn settings. His Ave verum corpus for choir and a setting of Psalm 23 won fame in the recording by Charlotte Church. His Requiem of Hope for soprano, mixed choir and organ, composed from 1995 to 2002, is based on texts by Henry Vaughan, John Henry Newman and anonymous texts.[6] In 2002, his Prayer of Forgiveness was awarded "Top Honors" in the competition "Waging Peace Through Singing" in the US state of Oregon.[6] A Te Deum for soprano solo, chorus, organ and brass ensemble was premiered in Cambridge in 2006 to mark his 70th birthday.[2] His setting of Laudate Pueri Dominum was premiered in 2011 at Westminster Cathedral Hall.[4]

Mawby (right) and conductor Gabriel Dessauer after the first performance of the Bonifatius Messe with choir and children's choir of St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden in 2012

His secular works include two operas for young people, The Torc of Gold (1996)[8] and The Quest (2000, premiered in 2001),[9][10] both on a libretto by playwright Maeve Ingoldsby, commissioned by the National Chamber Choir and premiered in Dublin under his direction.[8][9] On a commission by St. Bonifatius, Wiesbaden, he composed in 2011 the Missa solemnis Bonifatius-Messe for soprano, choir, children's choir, oboe and organ, premiered in his presence on 3 October 2012 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Chor von St. Bonifatius, with the choir and children's choir conducted by Gabriel Dessauer.[11]

Mawby commented on his writing for choirs in 2006: "I cannot write choral music unless I work with choirs. Now that's a subjective judgement: I know that lots of people can do these things; I can’t. I have to write for particular people."[3] His works are published internationally, in Germany by Dr. J. Butz, and in Italy by Eurarte and Casa Musicale Carrara.[7]

Mawby died on 24 November 2019.[6][12]


  1. ^ Hardwick, Peter (2003). British Organ Music of the Twentieth Century. Scarecrow Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-8108-4448-3.
  2. ^ a b c d "Colin Mawby". Music for Church Choirs. 2011. Archived from the original on 3 February 2004. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "An Interview with Colin Mawby". The Contemporary Music Centre Ireland. 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Choir performs world premiere of work by Colin Mawby / World premiere of Colin Mawby's new work, Laudate Pueri Dominum, was held last month at Westminster Cathedral Hall". Catholic Herald. 20 April 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  5. ^ Angelini, Andrea (22 May 2001). "Colin Mawby in front of the Mirror". International Choral Bulletin. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d "Colin Mawby (1936–2019)". The Contemporary Music Centre Ireland. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Colin Mawby". Oregon Catholic Press. 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b "The Torc of Gold (1996) / An Opera for Young People". The Contemporary Music Centre Ireland. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Luas sponsors the 'Quest', the National Chamber Choir's children's opera project". Dublin City University. Retrieved 26 November 2001.
  10. ^ Kelly, Olivia (22 May 2001). "Opera proves a big hit". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  11. ^ Kösterke, Doris (5 October 2012). "Eigenes Geschenk / Uraufführung Colin Mawbys Bonifatiusmesse". Wiesbadener Tagblatt (in German). Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  12. ^ "We must save our finest music before it's too late". Catholic Herald. 25 November 2019. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.

External links[edit]