Durham Cathedral Music

The Organists, past and present

Armes centenary

James Lancelot


James Lancelot, with his wife Sylvia, arrived in Durham when he was appointed Master of the Choristers and Cathedral Organist in 1985. Prior to this he was successively a chorister of St.Paul's Cathedral, Organ Scholar at King's College, Cambridge, and ten years Sub-Organist of Winchester Cathedral. He studied with Ralph Downes, Gillian Weir and Nicholas Danby, taking ARCO aged 15 in 1968, FRCO in 1969 and CHM in 1971. 

At Durham he takes responsibility for the cathedral's musical ministry, the centuries-old tradition of music at the centre of cathedral worship, which naturally takes most of his working time and energy. At its heart are the services sung daily  in term-time by the cathedral choir. James is responsible for the choir's  training, as well as that of the Consort of Singers, established in 1997. He has taken the cathedral choir on tour to Holland, Scandinavia, Germany, Brazil, the USA and France, and with them worked with the Northern Sinfonia, the London Festival Orchestra, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, the BT Scottish Ensemble, the BBC Philharmonic, and Stan Tracey and his orchestra.  In 2005, together with the cathedral choirs of St. Albans and Winchester, the choir took part in the St. Albans International Organ Festival, . The choir has also recorded  for Priory and made numerous broadcasts. James is also conductor of Durham University Choral Society. 

In addition, James is much in demand as a recitalist in Britain and abroad. Recent years have seen visits to Holland, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Denmark, the USA, France, Russia, Norway and Sweden, as well as many British venues.  There are several recordings available. As well as those previously on sale, including Vierne and Alain works, his recording of the complete organ works of Hubert Parry on the Durham Cathedral organ was a Gramophone Critics' Choice in 2000. His most recent recording is a DVD of Elgar’s Organ Sonata made in conjunction with the Durham Media Academy. 

James Lancelot is a Past-president of the Cathedral Organists Association, and in 2002 became a Lay Canon of Durham Cathedral, also receiving an Honorary Fellowship of the Guild of Church Musicians.  He received Honorary Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music in 2008.

He can be contacted e-mail: organist@durhamcathedral.co.uk, by fax 0191-386-4267, or by traditional post at: 6 The College, Durham DH1 3EQ.


Playing the St.Sulplice organ, on YouTube:


Forthcoming appearances:

Francesca Massey
Francesca Massey

Francesca Massey took up the post of Sub-Organist of Durham Cathedral in September 2011.  Prior to this, she was Assistant Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral for four years, 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 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 and much in demand around the North East as an organ teacher. 

Francesca can be contacted via e-mail,
                                                    or by post: c/o The College, Durham DH1 3EQ.

Forthcoming appearances:

Assistant Organist:
David Ratnanayagam

Previous Organists

The Cathedral Website

includes the diary of events and service music list.

The Chorister School

The Cathedral Choir

A History of Durham Choristers

Durham Cathedral Choir Association

* Shortcuts to *
A brief history of the Cathedral's organs
Father Smith gallery
The organ stoplist today
Forthcoming recital details

Maintained by Richard Hird [www.duresme.org.uk]
Last updated 6 June 2014