He was an organist and orchestral conductor born in Bromley, England, with his brother Nicholas also being a conductor.
His musical education began at Worcester College before moving to St. John’s College, Cambridge, as an organ student. After graduating he took on the position of organist in Northampton as well as being the Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral and Sub Organist at Westminster Abbey.
He joined the faculty at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1982 as the Organist and Director of Music and in 1983 he coupled that position with becoming Conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society’s orchestra and chorus. In his career with them, which spanned over 25 years, he has made many recordings in a wide repertoire of music and led many of their concerts, including the yearly Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols that has been broadcast throughout the world.
He was responsible for the commissioning of numerous works from contemporary composers that include John Rutter, Arvo Part, John Tavener , Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Richard Rodney Bennett among many others.
Moving away from King’s College he had his own solo career which he ran alongside and in this he toured internationally as an organist and guest conductor and as a teacher he conducted workshops and masterclasses in cities such as Dallas and Chicago. He was the Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers from 1995 to 2007 when he was made Conductor Laureate and appeared at several music festivals with them. From 2013 to 2014 he was a Visiting Fellow at Louisiana State University’s School of Music.
The Royal School of Church Music awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in 2008 and the following year he was made CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). He was knighted for his contribution to choral music in 2019.
He died from cancer in York, England in November 2019 when he was 70 years old.
Here he conducts the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, on Peter Cornelius’ “The Three Kings”…