The William Byrd Fellowship was created to further strengthen the research profile of Excelsia College. It connects the academic community with opportunities to engage with professional choral and vocal musicians, nationally and internationally. The Fellowship will be primarily research-focused with seminars, masterclasses and public performances each semester. The aim is to undertake international and national competitive and high-quality research that will be featured in Tier 1 research journals and publications. This will contribute to music research and scholarship within a Christian worldview. These Tier 1 publications are peer-reviewed as falling within the top 25 percentile ranking based on the real-world impact of the research.
The Fellowship also enables world-class musical practitioners with a passion for improving the performance and understanding of sacred music to understand better the relevance of their music and music-making to local, regional, national, and international communities.
Together with academics and performers, the Fellow will identify and explore mutual interests in Christian sacred music; as well as develop and leverage professional, academic, and technological networks and other resources to generate benefits to music-making in concert and in worship, research, and the wider world.
The first William Byrd Fellow is Antony Pitts, who takes up the newly inaugurated Fellowship in 2023 in honour of the 400th anniversary of the death of the great composer William Byrd. Antony has worked in broadcasting as a Senior Producer for the BBC, as a Senior Lecturer in creative technology at the Royal Academy of Music and was the Artistic Director of Australia’s national vocal ensemble The Song Company for seven years. His music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded on several continents, most notably by his award-winning British ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS.
As part of the William Byrd Fellowship, Antony Pitts has been commissioned to compose a piece of music for Excelsia Choir that will be performed at the College graduation ceremony in 2025. Through this work, there will be opportunities to mentor students and staff.