James Lancelot

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James Lancelot
Born (1952-12-02) 2 December 1952 (age 66)
GenresChoral music
Occupation(s)Organist, Choral Conductor

James Bennett Lancelot (born 2 December 1952) was Master of the Choristers, and Cathedral Organist at Durham Cathedral from 1985. He retired in 2017[1] and was appointed Canon Organist Emeritus by the Bishop of Durham.

Lancelot was educated at St Paul's Cathedral School and Ardingly College. At 16 he was the youngest of his generation to attain the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists. He went up to King's College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar from 1971-74.[2] Lancelot spent the next ten years as Sub-Organist of Winchester Cathedral prior to his move to Durham.

Lancelot's time at Durham Cathedral was a period of expansion: in 1997 he founded Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers, a Cathedral voluntary choir made up of singers from the town and the University. The Consort quickly gained a reputation as one of the leading chamber choirs in the region. The Cathedral Choir itself was expanded with the introduction of girl choristers, in addition to the boys. The girl and boy choristers usually sing separately, but have an equal workload and parity of status.

The commissioning of new music was a feature of James Lancelot's tenure. Notable works include John Tavener's Ikon of St Cuthbert, James MacMillan's Missa Dunelmi and several important pieces by John Casken.

He has been a member of the Royal College of Organists Council since 1988, and most recently of its Executive and Library Committees. He also conducted for the Durham University Choral Society.

In 2008 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music[3]

In 2013 he was appointed President of the Incorporated Association of Organists [4]

He has released several acclaimed recordings, including a DVD of Elgar's Organ Sonata and a CD of J.S. Bach's Orgelbuechlein.

In his spare time, James Lancelot is a steam railway enthusiast.

He is currently acting as Interim Organist and Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral.


In 2014 Lancelot was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Durham.[5]

In 2016, the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded him the Cranmer Award for Worship "for his contribution to cathedral worship through excellence in the practice of music within the liturgy".[6]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Richard Lloyd
Master of the Choristers and Organist Durham Cathedral
Succeeded by
Daniel Cook


  1. ^ "James Lancelot". Retrieved 2009-04-10.
  2. ^ Gibbs, David (2008). A School with a View: A History of Ardingly College 1858-2008. James & James Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-903942-83-3.
  3. ^ http://www.rscm.com/info_resources/news/HonAwards08_14122007.php
  4. ^ http://www.iao.org.uk
  5. ^ 'Durham University to honour leading international figures' , Durham University News (16 April 2014), online resource accessed 1 July 2017.
  6. ^ "The Archbishop of Canterbury's Awards: Lambeth Palace" (pdf). Archbishop of Canterbury. 31 March 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2017.