Honorary Graduate Judith Weir appointed Master of the Queen's Music

23 July 2014

Judith Weir CBE, photography by Chris Christodoulou

Judith Weir CBE, photography by Chris Christodoulou

British composer Judith Weir CBE, an honorary graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has been appointed the first female Master of the Queen’s Music.

Buckingham Palace announced the appointment, which, in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, is a fixed term of 10 years.

The Master of the Queen's Music is an honorary position traditionally conferred on a musician of distinction since the reign of King George V.

Judith Weir was born into a Scottish family in 1954, but grew up near London. She was an oboe player, performing with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and studied composition with John Tavener during her schooldays. She went on to Cambridge University, where her composition teacher was Robin Holloway; and in 1975 attended summer school at Tanglewood, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. After this she spent several years working in schools and adult education in rural southern England; followed by a period based in Scotland, teaching at Glasgow University and RSAMD.

She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by GCU in 2008.  

Judith Weir said: "It is a great honour to take up the position of Master of the Queen’s Music, in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who has given his musical and personal gifts so freely to this unusual national role. I hope to encourage everyone in the UK who sings, plays or writes music, and to hear as many of them as possible in action over the next 10 years. Listening is also a skill, and I intend to uphold our rights to quietness and even silence, where appropriate. Above all, our children deserve the best we can give them, and that includes access to live music, whether as learners, performers or listeners."

The Masters of The Queen's Music in the twentieth century have included Edward Elgar and Malcolm Williamson.

The BBC Singers is also delighted to announce that Judith Weir is to become its new Associate Composer starting from 2015, in a tenure running until 2018. Weir will be the fourth composer to take up the position, following Gabriel Jackson, Judith Bingham and Edward Cowie, who became the first BBC Singers Associate Composer in 2002.