Bajan’s winning hymn soars in church

A Toronto resident originally from Barbados is among the top winners of the Amadeus Choir’s 29th Seasonal Song-Writing Competition.
Charles C. Cooke’s Common Cloth was performed at Amadeus Choir’s seasonal concert in Toronto in his presence and before a congregation last Saturday (Dec. 19) at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 1585 Yonge St.
Cooke was raised in the Methodist church but exposed to Anglican traditions. He continues this dual connection in Canada as he regularly worships at Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church and St. Timothy’s Agincourt Anglican Church.
His interest in music in the early years was a direct result of his exposure to the rich hymnody of the Methodist and Anglican churches. He studied classical guitar and twice achieved awards of merit at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts in Barbados.
Cooke developed an interest in song writing and has written and arranged a significant number of songs in popular genres for various local artists. However, it was his involvement with the Wesley Chapel Sanctuary Choir which focused his attention on hymn writing and reawakened his love of worshipping God in this way.
One of his compositions, Hear, O Hear My Prayer, O Lord, was first sung as an anthem at the annual Barbados Independence Church service at St James’ Cathedral in Toronto.
Cooke is the author of O Hear My Prayer, O’ Lord, Classic Hymns of Worship and Praise and Songs in the Taize Style, a collection of original hymns covering virtually the entire liturgical life of the church.
The other winning entries are from Adam Adler of Thornhill, Henry & Susan Boon of Windsor, Antonia Dragomir of Toronto, Matthew Emery of Toronto, Joannie Ing of Toronto, Edmund Jolliffe of London, England, Cara Tors of Toronto and Kerry Wilson of Guelph.
General Manager Olena Jatsyshyn of Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto said the competition presents an opportunity to compose a song of up to five minutes duration to celebrate Christmas, Chanukah or the Winter Solstice. Entries can be composed for various voicing categories either unison or harmony, accompanied, or a cappella.
The competition was established by conductor Lydia Adams in 1987 as an opportunity for composers of all ages and levels of experience to hear their compositions come to life.
The competition is not faith-based. Its main goals are to provide a forum for new compositions, to motivate composers to develop their craft and to augment the existing choral repertoire.
Originally intended for only children and youth, the rules changed in 2000. Now in every second year the competition is open only to children and youth but for alternate years, it’s open to all composers, regardless of age and experience.