Rosalie Bonighton

It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Rosalie passed away in December,  below Kevin Mayhew talks about 'Ros'.

"As publishers we like to think that we have the very best composers on our list and Ros was right there in our Top Ten.

Whatever I asked her to write for us she did with grace and generosity. We have been her publisher for 18 years and in that time we have published nearly 500 of her choral and organ pieces.

Ros understood that the average parish organist was not as technically assured as she was but had a way of writing that makes people sound better than they are. She was able to write across musical styles, from deeply spiritual liturgical music to fun pieces, like her Liturgical Jazz which we will publish next month. Congregations might find themselves called to prayer by such pieces as ‘In the shadow of your wings’, a slow, ravishing meditation on Psalm 57, or shaken out of their seats by ‘Up she rises’, Ros’s riotous variations on ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor?’.

Her vocal writing, always setting fine texts, was similarly assured and welcomed by choirs looking for tuneful, well-crafted music with the occasional harmonic twist to keep them on their toes.

Last year Ros contributed a good number of pieces to Songs every choir loves to sing, a collection of traditional songs, the first time she had written anything of a non-sacred nature for us.

I liked her pieces so much that I asked her to consider writing more for our instrumental list and we had begun planning a book of recorder pieces which will now sadly not come to fruition.

Ros always greeted each new request with great enthusiasm. Her editor here, Donald Thomson, said to me: ‘It has always been such a pleasure to work with Ros and she was very prompt about returning her proofs. This last collection of pieces was so full of fun which, although I only knew her at the end of an email connection, seemed to mirror her approach to life.’

We shall miss Ros very much but she leaves a legacy that will live on as her music enhances the lives of countless people all over the world."


Rosalie Bonighton (1946-2011) was a composer, part-time teacher, and Organist and Music Director at St John the Evangelist Church, Ballarat, Australia.

She wrote for both professional and amateur performers, and has a special interest in music for liturgical needs.

Rosalie Bonighton was born in Ballarat in 1946. Studying composition under Keith Humble, Ian Bonighton, Theodore Dollarhide and Lawrence Whiffin, she gained a Bachelor of Music from the University of Melbourne and completed her Master of Arts (Music) at La Trobe University in composition with a thesis on 'Contemporary Liturgical Music and the Composer'.

Bonighton's musical influences include plainchant modes, British and Celtic folk song, the extended harmonic tensions and ambiguities of late German Romanticism, multi-metric rhythmic groupings, syncopation effects and some modified serial techniques.

In composing music, the functional requirements of a piece of music heavily influence Bonighton's choice of style, compositional techniques, structure, performing resources and level of performance difficulty. Originality, as such, is directed towards the craft of integrating aesthetic considerations with user requirements. In vocal/choral works, responsibility includes true integration of music and text.

In 1967 Rosalie was awarded the Coutts Memorial Prize for Composition from the University of Melbourne. She has also won the national Song of Jubilee competition (1999) and in 1983 was co-winner of the national Competition for Liturgical Psalm-Setting.

Rosalie was commissioned by many individuals and organisations, including the National Liturgical Music Convention (1992, 1995) and the University of Ballarat. She was employed as a 'house composer' by music publishers Kevin Mayhew, Ltd (UK), and has an extensive list of publications with them.

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Set Descending Direction

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  3. 3
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