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John Scott (Choral Conductor, Organ)

Born: June 18, 1956 - Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
Died: August 12, 2015 - New York City, New York, USA

The English organist and choral conductor, John Gavin Scott, began his musical career as a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral. It was also there that he first learned to play the organ. 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. Johnís College, Cambridge, where for four years (until 1978) 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 Reubkeís Sonata on the 94th Psalm. He was the youngest organist to appear in the Proms. On leaving Cambridge, he was appointed Assistant Organist at Londonís two Anglican Cathedrals, St Paulís 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 John Scott became Sub-Organist of St Paulís Cathedral in London. In 1990 he succeeded Dr. Christopher Dearnley as Organist and Director of Music. His work at St Paulís involved the training and direction of the choir, and the overseeing and development of the Cathedralís 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 September 14, 2001 following the terrorist atrocities in the USA. Under his direction, the St Paulís Cathedral Choir 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 gave world premieres of many works commissioned especially for them.

His career as a recitalist took 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 included recitals in the USA, Germany, Hong Kong, St. Stephenís 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 Paulís. In 2003 he gave a series of recitals in St Paulís featuring the complete organ works of César Franck in five recitals, and in 2004 he performed the complete organ works of Dietrich Buxtehude in a series of ten recitals at St Paulís.

John Scottís many recordings include the organ sonatas of Edward Elgar, organ music by William Mathias, the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé and Felix Mendelssohn, as well as two discs of music by Marcel Dupré. He also recorded the solo organ part in Janacekís Glagolitic Mass with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

John Scott was a Council member of the Royal College of Organists and the Royal School of Church Music. He was 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 díOrgue ďGrand Prix de ChartresĒ in 2002 and chaired the Jury for the Dallas International Organ Competition in 2003.

John Scott directed the St Paulís Cathedral Choir during their fourth tour in the USA in October 2003, as well as giving recitals in Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Aarhus Organ Festival in Denmark. He was in the process of editing a compilation of liturgical music for the Churchís year, due to be published by Oxford University Press. He was awarded the LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) in the New Year Honours List 2004, in recognition of his work at St Paul's Cathedral.

In the summer of 2004, after 26 years at St Paulís, John Scott moved to take up the post of Organist and Director of Music at Saint Thomas Church (Saint Thomas Choir of Men & Boys), on 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City, in succession to Dr. Gerre Hancock, where he directs the renowned choir of men and boys.

In the summer of 2015, John Scottís European tour included the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford Cathedral, where he gave the world premiere of Anthony Powersís O Gott, du frommer Gott. He returned to New York on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, but was taken ill and died from a suspected heart attack the next day, aged 59. He married Carolyn Lumsden in 1979. That marriage was dissolved and in 2013 he married Lily Ardalan, who is expecting their child in September 2015. She survives him with a son and daughter from his first marriage.

Source: Phillip Truckenbrod Website (including all photos); Wikipedia Website (based on London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57155, p. 3, December 31, 2003; retrieved on November 11, 2007); Obituary in the Telegraph (August 13, 2015)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008, August 2015); Chris Stanley (August 2015)

John Scott: Short Biography | Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

John Scott (Hyperion)
John Scott - concert organist (Phillip Truckenbrod)
John Scott (organist) (Wikipedia)

Obituary in The Telergraph
John Scott (1956-2015) (Saint Thomas Church)

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