The Music of St James’s Church
Organist and Director of Music
George de Voil BA (Oxon.) FRCO
As Organist and Director of Music at St James’s, Sussex Gardens, in London’s W2, George continues a musical tradition that has included such distinguished organist-composers as Dr Harold Darke and Sir George Thalben-Ball. He is also College Organist and Head of Choral Music at Wellington College, where he runs the Chapel Choir, is on the full-time teaching staff, and is an Assistant Housemaster. He is accompanist of Crowthorne Choral Society.
George is a prizewinning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, and Classic FM, and has recently given organ recitals at Westminster, Chester, Liverpool, Bristol, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Truro Cathedrals, as well as at many of London’s major churches. He fulfils series of annual engagements across the South of France.
George was a choral scholar at The London Oratory School before taking up the Parry-Wood Organ Scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford. There he gained a First Class honours degree in Music, and was solely responsible for the renowned mixed-voice choir. He also held the post of Master of the Music at Pusey House, Oxford’s famous Anglo-Catholic establishment. During his time at Oxford, George directed the musical celebrations for Exeter College’s 700th Anniversary, including performances in Westminster Abbey, Washington National Cathedral, and privately for the Queen of Spain. He led tours to Europe and the USA, and directed the world premiere recording of Charles Villiers Stanford’s Mass in G, Op. 46. The disc was praised by BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone, and led to George being named a Classic FM “Young Artist to Watch”. MusicWeb International praised his “stylish” direction, calling his recording of Parry’s Songs of Farewell “exciting and full of conviction”, while Martin Bird declared in the Elgar Society Journal, “George de Voil is something of a find… He may be young, but his innate musicianship, his feeling for line, for balance, for phrasing, for the placing of chords, is exciting…”. Choir & Organ remarked, “the fresh-voiced Exeter College Choir achieve a superb blend under their intelligent young conductor”. The disc was re-released in a second edition in May 2016.
Ben Giddens is currently Associate Organist at St Martin in the Fields, London. His duties involve accompanying the various choirs and performing at services, concerts and broadcasts. Whilst at St Martin’s, he has had the opportunity to perform with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the Brandenburg Sinfonia. Ben combines this with a portfolio of freelance work, teaching and performing, as well as holding the post of Associate Director of Music and Organist at St James’, Sussex Gardens where he regularly contributes to the liturgical life of the Church.
Between 2014-2015 Ben held the post of Organist at St Bartholomew the Great, London. Whilst at St Bart’s, Ben had the opportunity to work closely with Nigel Short and the professional choir.
From 2009-2012 Ben held the post of Sub-Organist at Magdalen College, Oxford where he featured on recordings and toured to Belgium and the Netherlands with the Chapel Choir. Prior to this Ben held the position of Acting Assistant Organist at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where he performed live on BBC Radio 3 and performed at many Royal occasions.
Ben holds a first class honours degree in Music from the University of East Anglia. Whilst studying for his degree, he held the organ scholarship at Norwich Cathedral and had the opportunity to perform live on BBC Radio 3 and toured to Malta and the USA with the Cathedral Choirs.
Ben currently maintains an active schedule of freelance performing and holds the post of accompanist at the University of Reading as well as deputising regularly at The Tower of London, St Bride’s Fleet Street and St Paul’s Knightsbridge.