James O'Donnell


James O'Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. Internationally recognised as a conductor and organ recitalist, he has performed all over the world, including the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe, and appeared in the BBC Proms and at many other festivals. Recent engagements have included Poulenc's Organ Concerto with the LPO under Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Royal Festival Hall, released on CD on the LPO Live label, a solo appearance at the BBC Proms, and concerts in the United States, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands.

 

A junior exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music, James O'Donnell was Organ Scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge, and then Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, before being appointed Master of Music in 1988. Under his direction the Choir of Westminster Cathedral made many acclaimed recordings. Its Hyperion disc of masses by Frank Martin and Pizzetti (1998) was voted Gramophone 'Record of the Year'; the following year the choir received a Royal Philharmonic Society award.  Both remain unprecedented for a cathedral choir.   

 

In January 2000 James O'Donnell took up his present appointment as director of music at Westminster Abbey, where he is responsible for the music at all services and special occasions, which in recent years have included the Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the memorial services for Nelson Mandela and Sir John Tavener. Under his direction the Abbey Choir broadcasts frequently, and has toured widely, most recently to the United States. The Abbey Choir enjoys a successful recording partnership with Hyperion Records, the latest release being of twentieth-century English music by Finzi, Bax and Ireland.

 

As soloist and director James O'Donnell works with many of the Britain's leading ensembles.  He is Music Director of St James's Baroque and appears regularly with the BBC Singers.  He is Visiting Professor of Organ and of Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. From 2011 to 2013 he was President of the Royal College of Organists.