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Dragon Interview: How Guildford Composer Heard About Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commission

Published on: 19 May, 2023
Updated on: 19 May, 2023

Dragon interview with Guildford composer and conductor, Will Todd (May 15 2023).

By Hugh Coakley

Will Todd, arguably Guildford’s most renowned and famous composer today, told The Dragon of his delight when he heard he had been commissioned to write a choral piece for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Call of Wisdom was performed at St Paul’s Cathedral in front of the Queen and an estimated TV audience of 45 million.

He said he sprinted up the garden to tell his family the news of his appointment. And the day of the performance, “To be there,” said Todd, “was a wonderful event in itself”.

His astonishing credits include Mass in Blue, a jazz and classical piece which is performed all around the world, Migrations for the Welsh National Opera and a wonderful arrangement of Amazing Grace for the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London which was performed at President Obama’s inauguration in 2013.

Will Todd, Guildford’s most renowned and famous composer today. Photo Andy Holdsworth.

And that is just a tiny selection of the huge range of his exciting work.

The charming and unassuming Will was an entertaining person to interview as he talked about “converting good fortune into good things”, his early experiences of teaching himself to play the piano, a typical week in the life of a composer and even, tongue in cheek, that he irons his own shirts.

The difficulties of making a living in the internet streaming era were touched upon as well. Even the most successful artists struggle to make money as people stream music rather than buy the recording. Will said it took thousands of plays for the musician to get even the price of one CD with the musician only getting a fraction of a penny for each online play.

His success is encouraging to young artists but said “you have to be single-minded and push forward and be prepared not to make a lot of money”.

His latest recording, Playing Free, made in his home studio, is a series of improvisations on the piano. Todd said he always starts his working day with a few minutes of just playing as the mood takes him.

He wanted to capture these daily “improvs”, with no limits or planning, and no returning to play the piece again to improve it. The feedback, said Todd, has been absolutely wonderful, with people saying it’s “absolutely chilled out”. It is available on his website.

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Responses to Dragon Interview: How Guildford Composer Heard About Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commission

  1. Sarah Davis Reply

    May 19, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Congratulations to Will Todd, whose music is quite frankly sublime.

    Will is a multi-talented composer, and a gentle, unassuming, lovely guy to boot, and we are lucky to have him in our Guildford music community. I hope Guildford will give Will Todd the recognition he deserves and a chance for all the community to hear his music and celebrate his talents.

    And please buy his music as I have done rather than download it. It’s such a struggle to be a musician and composer, they give us so much joy, the least we can do is pay for their music.

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