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Durham Cathedral’s Master of Choristers & Organists
Durham Cathedral benefits from having four exceptional organists in Daniel Cook (Master of the Choristers & Organist), Francesca Massey (Sub Organist), Jason Löwe (Assistant Organist)
Former Organists of Durham Cathedral
Masters of the Choristers (and, ipso facto, Organists)
1535 John Brimley
1576 William Browne
1588 Robert Masterman
1589 William Smith
1599 William Browne
1608 Edward Smith
1612 Francis Dodson
1613 Richard Hutchinson
Masters of the Choristers and Organists
1661 John Foster
1677 Alexander Shaw (Organist only)
1681 William Greggs
1711 James Heseltine
1763 Thomas Ebdon
1811 Charles Clarke
1814 William Henshaw
1862 Philip Armes
1907 Arnold Culley
1933 John Dykes Bower
1936 Conrad Eden
1974 Richard Lloyd
1985 James Lancelot
2017 Daniel Cook
1904 William Ellis
1919 Cyril Maude
1968 Bruce Cash
1973 Alan Thurlow
1980 David Hill
1982 Ian Shaw
1991 Keith Wright
2011 Francesca Massey
2009 Oliver Brett
2012 David Ratnanayagam
2016 Jason Löwe
Daniel Cook is Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral and is recognised internationally as a liturgical and concert organist of the highest order. In addition he is Artistic Director of Mousai, Curator of JAM on the Marsh, and maintains a busy schedule of recitals, concerts and recordings, both as performer and producer, as well as being in demand as a conductor, teacher and singer.
Prior to this Daniel spent four years as Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey where he was the principal organist to the Abbey Choir and Assistant Director of Music to James O'Donnell. He accompanied the Abbey Choir for all major services, performed with them in concerts and on tours in Europe and the USA, as well as appearing in their famous series of recordings for Hyperion Records. He also performed with the Abbey Choir in several concerts in London, notably in Buckingham Palace and at the Royal Albert Hall, and was the organist for all of the broadcast services and concerts between 2013 and 2017.
Before moving to the Abbey, Daniel was Organist and Master of the Choristers of St Davids Cathedral and Artistic Director of the St Davids Cathedral Festival, where he was responsible for the maintenance and development of the cathedral’s musical ministry. Under his direction the Cathedral Choir made several broadcasts and recordings for BBC Radio and Television, toured in Italy and performed with the BBC singers in the City of London Festival. Before moving to St Davids, Daniel spent six years as Assistant Director of Music of Salisbury Cathedral where he was the principal organist. He has worked widely as a choral conductor and has been Music Director of the Dyfed Choir, the Farrant Singers, St Davids Cathedral Festival Chorus and the Grange Choral Society and Orchestra, with whom he directed many major choral works including Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Dyson: Canterbury Pilgrims, Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Handel: Messiah and Verdi: Requiem.
Daniel received his early musical education at Durham Cathedral with Keith Wright. Following a year as Organ Scholar at Worcester Cathedral, he moved to London to take up a place at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Nicolas Kynaston, James O'Donnell and Patrick Russill and participated in master classes with many of the world’s leading organists including Marie-Claire Alain, Lionel Rogg and Jon Laukvik. While at the Academy, he worked as Organ Scholar at Southwark Cathedral and Westminster Abbey before graduating with first-class honours in July, 2003. He was subsequently Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey from 2003 until 2005.
Daniel has twice been a finalist in the St Albans International Organ Competition. As a recitalist, he has played across the UK, Europe and Australia with performances in most of the cathedrals in Britain, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, and in the Grand Organ Festival at Westminster Cathedral. Increasingly in demand as an ensemble performer, recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the City of London Festival, BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the St Davids Cathedral Festival, Onyx Brass in The Hythe Festival and The London Mozart Players in JAM on the Marsh. His work as an accompanist has taken him all over the world and he regularly works with many of the distinguished vocal ensembles and choral groups in the UK such as the BBC Singers, both as a conductor and organist. He has made several solo organ recordings for Priory Records and is one of their most recorded organists. Other projects have included a performance of the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in six recitals to celebrate the centenary of the composer’s birth, and CD recordings of the complete organ music of Charles Stanford, Herbert Brewer, Herbert Sumsion, George Dyson, Walter Alcock and William Harris. A solo DVD from Westminster Abbey will be released in 2018.
In recent years Daniel has developed a strong commitment to new music, particularly through his work as conductor, organist and panel member for the John Armitage Memorial Trust (JAM). He regularly collaborates with leading contemporary composers and has participated in first performances of works by Judith Bingham, Neil Cox, Adam Gorb, Robin Holloway, Gabriel Jackson, Matthew Martin, Paul Mealor, Philip Moore, Tarik O'Regan, Paul Patterson, Julian Philips, Giles Swayne, Judith Weir, James Whitbourn and Jeremy Woodside. In 2009 he was soloist for a collaborative CD release of contemporary music jointly promoted by JAM and Choir and Organ magazine.
In 2013 Daniel was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), an award offered to past students of the Academy who have distinguished themselves in the music profession and made a significant contribution to it in their particular field.
Francesca Massey took up the post of Sub-Organist of Durham Cathedral in September 2011. Prior to this, she was for four years Assistant Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral, where in addition to the daily provision of music for services, she regularly accompanied the cathedral choir in concerts, tours, broadcasts and recordings, including the live televised-broadcasts of Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Eucharist in 2008. Concert venues with the choir included the cathedrals of Amiens, Bourges, Blois and Orléans. Born in Birmingham, Francesca was educated at Cambridge University and the Royal Northern College of Music (as an ABRSM Scholar) and has held Organ Scholarships at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (also Acting Precentor for a term) and Manchester Cathedral as well as being Assistant Organist at Great St. Mary's Church, Cambridge.
At the age of 19, Francesca gained all of the top prizes in the FRCO diploma and has since been awarded the WT Best Memorial Scholarship and Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and the Musicians Benevolent Fund’s Ian Fleming Award. She has studied with Jeremy Filsell, Kevin Bowyer, David Goode and Andrew Fletcher.
Francesca’s recital venues have included many major concert halls, cathedrals and churches in the UK, and she has also performed throughout South Africa, Sardinia, Sweden and Denmark with Caius College Choir, with whom she recorded a number of acclaimed CDs. Francesca has worked as a tutor for Cambridge University Faculty of Music, and on various courses hosted by Oundle for Organists and the RSCM, as well as performing extensively as an organ accompanist, continuo player, pianist, violinist and singer. She is currently the rehearsal accompanist for The Durham Singers.
Jason Löwe’s musical career began at age 13 with piano lessons, broadening a year later when he began to undertake organ lessons with Robert Birbeck of Warrington Parish Church. He became Organ Scholar of the Parish Church in 2003, and from 2005 studied Organ at the Royal Northern College of Music with Darius Battiwalla where he also received tuition from Dr Simon Lindley.
During his time at the RNCM, Jason took part in masterclasses given by Jeremy Filsell, Kevin Bowyer and Thomas Trotter and in 2009, as part of the College’s ‘Raising Sparks’ event, he gave a performance of James MacMillan’s le Tombeau de Georges Rouault which was met with great acclaim by the composer.
He was Sub-Organist of St Paul’s Church, Withington, from December 2007 until Easter 2009 and a finalist in the RNCM’s 2008 Organ Recital Prize.
Jason graduated from the RNCM in December 2009 with the B-Mus (Hons) degree, and from September 2009 to August 2011 was Sydney Nicholson Organ Scholar of Manchester Cathedral, where he developed a particular interest in psalm accompaniment. He took up his post at Giggleswick School in September 2011 where, in addition to playing for the many rehearsals and chapel services and teaching music theory, he is responsible for the upkeep and care of the school’s fine Father Willis Organ. In July 2012 he accompanied the school tour party on their Quincentenery ‘Music and Sport’ tour to Australia, where he played the piano in the Concert Band and accompanied the Concert Choir for concerts given in Queensland, Brisbane, Tamworth and Sydney.
Particularly interested in solo recital work, Jason has given recitals in Liverpool, Manchester and Blackburn Cathedrals, and in the Churches of St. Elphin, Warrington, and St. Ann, Manchester. In his capacity as Organist of Giggleswick School he has given first performances of works by Cecilia McDowall and Darren Everhart, and recently appeared as the organist for ITV’s 2013 Christmas Eve broadcast of ‘Carols from the Dales’ from St Michael’s Church, Kirkby Malham.
He has a wide ranging musical taste which includes music from all periods, but he is especially interested in the music of the German Symphonic school; in particular the works of Max Reger and Franz Schmidt. In his spare time he enjoys reading, traditional West Country cider, 1960s cult Television, and the Gainsborough Pictures films starring Will Hay.