Westminster Abbey Organist to Perform at Downtown Church

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The same kind of grand organ music that filled Westminster Abbey during the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton can be heard at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Wednesday evening when James O’Donnell, organist and master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, performs a solo organ concert.

The free concert kicks off O’Donnell’s annual United States tour and starts at 7 p.m. St. Mark’s is located at 315 E. Pecan St. Included in the program are works by William Walton, César Franck, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Charles-Marie Widor.

O’Donnell, who has been called “one of the elect” of organists, has served Westminster Abbey, the official church home of Britain’s Royal Family, since 2000. In his position, he is responsible for music played at state occasions such as coronations and royal funerals. He arranged several of the hymns the royal couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, chose for their wedding and conducted the Choristers in the ceremony.

Before being selected for the Abbey position, he served as master of music at Westminster Cathedral.

O’Donnell has appeared in the popular BBC Proms and at many other festivals and tours worldwide. Most recently he performed Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall as well as recitals in the United States, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands.

In 1997, he was appointed Professor of Organ at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also lectures in church music studies. He has served on the Council of the Royal College of Organists for 10 years and was president until 2013. He has won many prizes and made numerous recordings. Upon leaving his post at Westminster Cathedral in 1999, he was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by the Vatican.

O’Donnell’s visit is made possible by the St. Cecilia Guild of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Disclosure: Nancy Cook-Monroe attends services at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. 

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