James Lancelot


James LancelotJames Lancelot retired from the post of Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral this summer after thirty-two years.  Prior to that he was successively a Chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral (where he sang at the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill), Organ Scholar of King’s College, Cambridge and Sub-Organist of Winchester Cathedral.  He studied with Ralph Downes, Gillian Weir and Nicholas Danby. 

At Durham he took responsibility for the cathedral’s musical ministry, at whose heart are the services sung daily by the Cathedral Choir.  Under his direction the choir maintained its reputation as one of Britain’s leading cathedral choirs; it was expanded by the recruitment and admission of a team of girl Choristers in 2009.  The choir broadcasts, records and tours regularly; but its priority has always been the daily Opus Dei – daily Evensong, together with Matins and Sung Eucharist on Sundays.  While its repertoire is wide, it has not been afraid to tackle new music; it gave seven first performances in 2013.  James was also instrumental in the founding of the cathedral’s second choir, Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers.

James was appointed a Lay Canon of the Cathedral in 2002, and also held the appointment of Durham University Organist.  He holds Honorary Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music, the Guild of Church Musicians, and St Chad’s College and Hatfield College, Durham; in addition, Durham University conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Music on him in 2014.  From 1987 to 2013 he was Conductor of Durham University Choral Society.  He is a Past President of the Incorporated Association of Organists.  Last year he was a recipient of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Cranmer Award for Worship.

James pursues an active recital career both in Britain and abroad; he played a recital from Durham Cathedral live on BBC Radio 3 last year.  He has many recordings to his credit, including two DVDs on the organ of Durham Cathedral.  His recording of Bach’s Orgelbüchlein was released last year, and a further Bach recording was released this July, and he will give two recitals in the cycle of Bach’s complete organ works to be held in the Essen Philharmonie next April.

Upon his retirement, the Bishop of Durham appointed James as Canon Organist Emeritus of Durham Cathedral.