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Murray Forbes Somerville (Choral Conductor, Organ)

Born: London, England

The English choral conductor and organist, Murray Forbes Somerville, was born in London and raised in Rhodesia. He studied studied under Karl Richter in Munich, Germany, at the Oxford University (where he was Organ Scholar of New College, under Sir David Lumsden), under Robert Baker at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Murray Forbes Somerville is noted as choral and orchestral conductor, organ recitalist on three continents, workshop leader and scholar. He served St. James's Church in West Hartford, Connecticut, and the Cathedral of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida, where he also founded the Orlando Deanery Boychoir. In 1990 he was appointed as the Harvard's sixth University Organist and Choirmaster, a post he held until 2003. In this post he presented regular recitals, directed the Harvard University Choir and played for services in Memorial Church. As curator of the University Organs, he also overseen the recital series on the Flentrop organ in Busch Hall and the Fisk instrument in Memorial Church. He is an authority on the music of John Knowles Paine, his nineteenth century Harvard predecessor, who was the subject of his doctoral research. Formerly Music Director of the Bach Festival at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, he also served as Chorus-master to the Florida Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Orlando Opera Company. In Fall 2003 he took up his position as Director of Music at St. George’s Episcopal Church. He has presented recitals in such places as Westminster Abbey and the Methuen (Massachusetts) Memorial Music Hall, and conducted conducting major symphony orchestras.

In 1987, Murray Forbes Somerville was honoured for his work as church and Cathedral musician by being named an Associate of Britain's Royal School of Church Music; he has led RSCM courses and workshops throughout the USA. The American Record Guide has described his organ recordings as “incomparable,” while European critics hailed his direction of the Harvard University Choir as “ a demonstration of perfection in choral singing.”

Source: Boston Camerata Website; St George's Episcopal Church Website; Titanic Records Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2006)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Murray Forbes Somerville


Selection from BWV 248

Links to other Sites

Murray Forbes Somerville (Boston Camerata)
J.S. Bach: Das Orgelbüchlein (Titanic Records)

Harvard Gazette: Somerville departs for 'Music City, USA
Music - Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville (St George's Episcopal Church)

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