George Herbert wins competition and is appointed to Hampton Court

Posted on: 24 August 2023

George Herbert

George Herbert, our outgoing Assistant Organist and former Organ Scholar, has been appointed Assistant Director of Music at HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. In the same week, he also won First Prize at the Northern Ireland Organ Competition.

George will succeed Rufus Frowde at Hampton Court, joining Director of Music Carl Jackson to lead the music-making there. The choir of 18 choristers and six members of the professional back row – who for 450 years have sung for the regular services at the palace – perform in the chapel with its magnificent Tudor pendant-vaulted ceiling and its Schrider/Hill organ. George is looking forward to joining Hamish McLaren and Louis Watkins, two former members of the choir at St John's who are now singers at Hampton Court.

George said: "I’m really thrilled to have been appointed Assistant Director of Music at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. The warmth and conviviality of the chapel team when I went to audition felt very familiar from my four years at St John’s! The chapel itself is stunning, and it is a rare honour to join a musical foundation whose members have included Tallis, Byrd and Gibbons. I’m excited to work with Carl Jackson and his brilliant choir, and to learn from him."

George Herbert wins 2023 NIIOC

George with the NIIOC Trophy at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh

As winner of the Northern Ireland Organ Competition, the final of which was held in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, George receives a prize of £4000 as well as a series of recitals that will take him to St Thomas Fifth Avenue, New York; Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin; Westminster Abbey, London; Trinity College, Cambridge; St Michael's Church, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin; and the Portico of Ards, Portaferry. His winning recital programme included Laudes by Francis Pott, commissioned by St John's College for former Organ Scholar Edward Picton-Turbervill. Our incoming Organ Scholar for 2023, Tingshuo Yang, was highly commended in the same final, whose panel included former St John's Director of Music, David Hill. Another former Organ Scholar, James Anderson-Besant (now Director of Music at Truro Cathedral) won Second Prize in the 2019 competition.

George said: "It was my unexpected and overwhelming pleasure to be awarded first prize in the senior category of NIIOC 2023. It was a privilege (albeit a nerve-wracking one!) to share a stage with so many talented players. I was very kindly put up for the weekend by Garbhan, who’s now a second year choral volunteer at St John’s, and his endlessly generous family. My enormous thanks go to the warm, welcoming organising committee, to the encouraging and inspiring jury, and to the supportive, friendly group of organists who were taking part. I intend to give half of the prize money to environmental charities, and to use the other half to fund sustainable land-based travel to and from future overseas performances. I’m really excited to perform the prize recitals.’’

George has been a well-loved and respected member of the choir at St John's for four years, both as Organ Scholar and for this past year as Assistant Organist. He memorably led the choir with two days' notice for the 2021 Advent Carol Service and BBC Broadcast when then Director of Music Andrew Nethsingha tested positive for Covid-19.

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Recorded on
19 October 2023
  • Introit - Parsons: Ave Maria
  • Responses and Preces: Radcliffe
  • Psalm 25.1-8
  • Readings: Isaiah 40, 1-11, Luke 1, 57-66, 80
  • Jackson in G
  • MacMillan: Christus Vincit
  • Voluntary: Langlais, Acclamations (Suite Medievale)
The contribution of Andrew Nethsingha and St John's College, Cambridge to the Evensong tradition - both in the chapel and on record - deserves great praise