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Artist Hyperion Records
Scott, John (organ)
© Hanya Chlala

John Scott (organ)

John Scott was born in 1956 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, where he became a Cathedral chorister. While still at school he gained the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists and won the major prizes. In 1974 he became Organ Scholar of St. John’s College, Cambridge, where for four years he acted as assistant to Dr. George Guest and held the University John Stewart of Rannoch Scholarship in Sacred Music. His organ studies were with Jonathan Bielby, Ralph Downes, and Dame Gillian Weir. He made his debut in the 1977 Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, playing Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm. He was the youngest organist to appear in the Proms.

On leaving Cambridge, he was appointed Assistant Organist at London’s two Anglican Cathedrals, St Paul’s and Southwark. During this time he won the first prizes from the Manchester and Leipzig J. S. Bach International Organ Competitions in 1978 and 1984 respectively.

In 1985 he became Sub-Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral. In 1990 he succeeded Dr. Christopher Dearnley as Organist and Director of Music.

His work at St Paul’s involved the training and direction of the choir, and the overseeing and development of the Cathedral’s busy music program. In recent years he was responsible for the music at a number of high-profile events, including the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Millennium, the services to mark the 100th birthday of HM The Queen Mother and the Golden Jubilee of HM The Queen (for which he was asked to compose an anthem) and the service held on 14 September 2001 following the terrorist atrocities in the USA. Under his direction, the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir has toured extensively in Europe, Japan, and North and South America, made many widely acclaimed recordings, worked with a number of distinguished orchestras and ensembles and given world premieres of many works commissioned especially for them.

His career as a recitalist has taken him to five continents. In November 1989 he inaugurated the new Rieger organ in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and in 1990, he was one of five international Cathedral organists invited to play in Washington National Cathedral to celebrate the completion of the Cathedral. Recent engagements have included recitals in the USA, Germany, Hong Kong, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Notre Dame in Paris and Slovakia, and a complete cycle of organ works of J.S. Bach and the Vierne and Widor Symphonies in concert in St Paul’s. In 2003 he gave a series of recitals in St Paul’s featuring the complete organ works of Franck in five recitals, and in 2004 he performed the complete organ works of Buxtehude in a series of ten recitals at St Paul’s.

John Scott’s many recordings include the organ sonatas of Elgar, organ music by William Mathias, the complete organ works of Duruflé and Mendelssohn, as well as two discs of music by Dupré. He has also recorded the solo organ part in Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

John Scott is a Council member of the Royal College of Organists and the Royal School of Church Music. He is President of the Percy Whitlock Trust, a Past-President of the Incorporated Association of Organists and in 1998 was nominated International Performer of the Year by the New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He was a member of the Jury for the Concours International d’Orgue “Grand Prix de Chartres” in 2002 and chaired the Jury for the Dallas International Organ Competition in 2003.

In the summer of 2004, after 26 years at St Paul’s, he moved to take up the post of Organist and Director of Music at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York, in succession to Dr. Gerre Hancock, where he directs the renowned choir of men and boys.


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