James O'Donnell (organist)
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James O'Donnell Organist
James O'Donnell
Born (1961-08-15) August 15, 1961 (age 59)
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
InstrumentsOrgan, harpsichord
LabelsHyperion Records

James O'Donnell KCSG, FRCM, FRSCM, HonRAM (born 1961) is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. He has held this position since 2000.[1]

Early life and education

O'Donnell was born in Scotland but moved to England and attended Westcliff High School for Boys and the Royal College of Music and later attended Cambridge University, where he was Organ Scholar of Jesus College.


He graduated from university in 1982 to be appointed Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, succeeding as Master of Music in 1988. He was Professor of Organ at the Royal Academy of Music from 1997 to 2004, and is now Visiting Professor of Organ. In July 2010, O'Donnell began his term of office as President Elect of the Royal College of Organists. He served as President Elect until January 2011, and served as President until June 2013, being succeeded by Catherine Ennis.

Awards and honours

He has received several awards and honours. In 1998 his Hyperion disc of Martin and Pizzetti Masses with Westminster Cathedral Choir received the Gramophone Award for Record of the Year and Best Choral Record. In 1999 Westminster Cathedral Choir under his direction was given the Royal Philharmonic Society Award, the first time a choir had been so honoured. Upon leaving Westminster Cathedral in December 1999, he was awarded the papal honour of Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great (KCSG).[2]

He was subsequently elected:

  • Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music (FRSCM)
  • Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (HonRAM)
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Music (FRCM)


  1. ^ "James O'Donnell (conductor)". Hyperion Records. Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ G. Stack, James O'Donnell Bows Out With Papal Award, article in: Oremus. The Magazine of Westminster Cathedral, February 2000, p. 13
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Martin Baker
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey

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