Organ Scholars

There are two Organ Scholars who assist the Director of Music in the running of the Choir, attending the daily rehearsals for the Choristers at the School, and accompanying the services in Chapel. St John's boasts an impressive line of former Organ Scholars – see below and on our alumni page.

If you are interested in becoming an Organ Scholar please visit our Becoming an Organ Scholar page.

Glen Dempsey

Glen Dempsey – Herbert Howells Organ Scholar

Born in Suffolk in 1994, Glen’s formative musical experiences were centered around the English choral tradition - as a chorister in St Mary’s, Bury St Edmunds and later in the choirs of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Organ lessons with Michael Nicholas led to his being awarded a scholarship as a répétiteur to study at the Purcell School of Music. During this time Glen performed in all the major concert halls of London as a soloist and chamber musician on the organ and piano, and also conducted at the Wigmore Hall.

In 2013 Glen was appointed Organ Scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. In this role he was responsible for accompanying and directing the choir’s daily services and for training the choristers, as well as for playing at many events attended by the British Royal Family. Alongside his organ studies with Ann Elise Smoot he maintained a varied performance profile as organist, conductor and tenor.

During the academic year 2014/15 he resided in the Netherlands and was the Assistant Organist of St Nicholas’s Basilica, Amsterdam. Under the mentorship of Michael Hedley, Glen accompanied the majority of the choral services in the Basilica, as well as having had responsibility for conducting the Basilica’s various choirs and ensembles. During this time he studied with Jacques van Oortmerssen.

Glen became Organ Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge in October 2015.

      

James Anderson-Besant

James Anderson-Besant – Junior Organ Scholar

James is the new Junior Organ Scholar at St John's. He has just spent a gap year as the Organ Scholar of Gloucester Cathedral, where his duties included accompanying services sung by all four Cathedral Choirs, helping train the choristers, and assisting in a primary school singing outreach programme. James' year at Gloucester was especially historic due to the addition of the first ever girl choristers, for which he played many services.

James began his musical education singing in the choir and playing the electronic keyboard at his local primary school. He then joined the choir of St Helen’s Church, Benson, later becoming the Organist under the Director of Music, Judith Ward, in 2013. He was a music and academic scholar at Abingdon School, and during this time was the continuo player for Oxford Concerto Orchestra, featuring in his final year as harpsichord soloist in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and Harpsichord Concerto No. 1. While in the Upper Sixth James was also the Organ Scholar of the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford, accompanying many services in the Cathedral outside university term time. For seven years he learned the organ with James Brown, and he now studies with Stephen Farr.

The Organ

The Organs

St John’s has two organs. The main organ was built by Mander and Sons in 1993. Although largely new, the instrument incorporates parts of the previous Hill organ and subsequent alterations, including the famous Trompetta Real, several Swell stops and much of the Pedal division. You can find the specification of the Mander organ below. There is more information on this organ on the St John's College website. In addition to the main organ, a three-stop transposing chamber organ for smaller scale repertoire was completed by Vincent Woodstock in 2010.

Previous Organ Scholars

  • 2013 Joseph Wicks
  • 2012 Edward Picton-Turbervill
  • 2010 Freddie James
  • 2008 John Challenger
  • 2007 Timothy Ravalde
  • 2005 Léon Charles
  • 2004 Paul Provost
  • 2002 John Robinson
  • 2000 Jonathan Vaughn
  • 1999 Christopher Whitton
  • 1997 Robert Houssart
  • 1996 Iain Farrington
  • 1994 Peter Davis
  • 1993 Allan Walker
  • 1991 James Martin
  • 1990 Philip Scriven
  • 1988 Alexander Martin
  • 1987 Andrew Nethsingha
  • 1985 Robert Huw Morgan
  • 1984 Philip Kenyon
  • 1983 James Cryer
  • 1981 Andrew Lumsden
  • 1980 Adrian Lucas
  • 1978 Ian Shaw
  • 1976 David Hill
  • 1974 John Scott
  • 1971 Jonathan Rennert
  • 1967 Stephen Cleobury
  • 1963 Jonathan Bielby
  • 1960 Brian Runnett
  • 1956 Peter White
  • 1953 Alan Hemmings
  • 1952 David Lumsden (Assistant Organist)
  • 1951 James Bennett
  • 1947 George Guest
  • 1941 James Brown

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Latest webcast

Recorded on
17 November 2017

​This week's webcast features Pelham Humfrey's Evening Service in E Minor. Humfrey died at the age of 27, but exerted a strong influence on his peers even at his young age.

Latest news

Joanna Ward

On Thursday 26 October, the Choir performed the first commission of the term: 'The Banquet' by undergraduate Joanna Ward. The piece featured men's voices and a double bass, played by Joe Cowie, and it was funded with generous support from Paul & Joanna Lindsell and Jeremy & Jodie Podger.

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer