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Fifteen-year-old Thomas Fetherstonhaugh has composed this year’s Financial Times carol, a gentle piece of music set to the words of William Chatterton Dix’s “What Child is This?” and was premiered in London by the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School’s Schola Cantorum with organist Iestyn Evans.
Fetherstonhaugh’s name may be familiar. He sang the treble solo at Kate and William’s wedding, appears on film soundtracks, including Life of Pi, and has performed at the Royal Opera House in London. He does not sing on the FT’s video because his voice broke nearly a year ago.
So what did he feel about composing for the FT?
“This was a really good challenge because it’s not as free as composing, say, a string quartet. I wasn’t trying to make it atonal or unconventional but I didn’t want to make it like every other carol,” says Fetherstonhaugh.
He fitted the FT’s carol commission into a gruelling daily schedule: school and music practice from 7.30am to around 9pm, and on Saturdays 9-4 at the Junior Royal Academy of Music. It comes as no surprise that Fetherstonhaugh sees music as his future career, probably as a conductor.
Schola Cantorum’s conductor, Scott Price, who is director of music at the Vaughan, is pleased with his pupil’s composition.
“Thomas has composed a very lovely carol that captures the ‘sound of Christmas’ very well. His extensive experience as a chorister will no doubt have helped him in this. The carol is highly effective and accessible to both choirs and audiences alike.”
BBC Radio 3 will broadcast the carol on ‘In Tune’ on December 9 (4.30-6pm)