Patrick Russill

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Patrick Russill (born 9 September 1953) is an English choral conductor, organist and music conservatoire teacher.

He is currently Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, London (since 1997), where he is also a professor of organ (since 1999), Director of Music of the London Oratory (since 1999), Visiting Professor of Choral Conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig (since 2001) and Chairman of The Church Music Society (since 2019)[1].


Educated at Shaftesbury Grammar School, Dorset (1965–1972), he was organ scholar (1972–1975) at New College, Oxford, where he gained a first class honours degree in music. He studied organ with Nicholas Danby and at the age of 23 was appointed organist of the London Oratory in 1977 in succession to Ralph Downes.[2] Between 1984 and 2003 he was also Director of the London Oratory Junior Choir. During this time the choir appeared at The Proms, at the Royal Opera House and participated in recordings of J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion and Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 on the DG Archiv label with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir.

Russill was appointed Head of Church Music by the Royal Academy of Music in 1987, in order to found Britain's first conservatoire church music department.[3] In 1997 he was appointed Head of Choral Conducting at the Academy, leading the UK's first specialist postgraduate choral conducting course. He has given choral conducting masterclasses for the Royal College of Organists, the Cathedral Organists' Association, the Assistant Cathedral Organists' Association, the Conference of Catholic Directors of Music, and the Music Masters' and Mistresses' Association. He has also been a guest professor at the conservatoires in Stockholm, Helsinki, Düsseldorf and Strasbourg.

He was appointed Director of Music at the London Oratory in 1999. With its professional Choir of the London Oratory he has recorded a number of CDs on the Herald label and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

As an organ recitalist he has played at major venues in the UK including York Minster, Westminster Cathedral, St Alban's Abbey and Birmingham Town Hall, as well as in Europe and Asia. He made his Royal Festival Hall organ recital debut in 1986. In 2007 he introduced the reconstructed Tudor organs of the Early English Organ Project to London's South Bank, in an acclaimed Queen Elizabeth Hall recital.[4] He was Chief Examiner of the Royal College of Organists 2005-2017.

He has also been an organ consultant, most importantly (with Nicholas Thistlethwaite) for the rebuilding of the Harrison and Harrison organ at Ely Cathedral (1999–2001).

As a scholar he has published articles on subjects mainly focussing on the English and Catholic traditions - early Tudor liturgical organ music, Howells's Latin church music and Dupré's Vespers - as well as editing choral music by Sweelinck and Howells for Novello and the Church Music Society (published by Oxford University Press). He was an invited speaker at Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music in 1998[5] and the Hungarian Church Music Association in 2001. He was Musical Editor of the Catholic Hymn Book (1998) and has contributed to the revised New Grove, The Cambridge Companion to the Organ (1998),[6] and Geschichte der Kirchenmusik (Laaber-Verlag, 2011 and 2013).

In 2015, Russill was honoured by the Association of British Choral Directors with their annual Chair's Award for Choral Leadership.[7]


  • Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London (Hon RAM), 1993[8]
  • Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians (Hon FGCM), 1997
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (Hon FRCO), 2002
  • Vice-President, Herbert Howells Society, 2007
  • Honorary Member, Cathedral Organists Association, 2012
  • Founding Patron, London Youth Choirs, 2012[9]
  • Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music (FRSCM), 2017


  1. ^ "The Church Music Society - Contact Us". Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  2. ^ "The London Oratory - Music Staff". Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  3. ^ "Royal Academy of Music – Patrick Russill". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  4. ^ Hall, George (2007-02-03). "Patrick Russill/The Sixteen Queen Elizabeth Hall, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  5. ^ Russill, Patrick (2001), "Tomorrow's Church Musician: Artisan or Artist? The View from an English Conservatoire" (PDF), Yale Studies in Sacred Music, Yale: The Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University: 23–26
  6. ^ Thistlethwaite, Nicholas (Editor); Webber, Geoffrey (Editor) (1999). The Cambridge Companion to the Organ. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 204–218. ISBN 0521575842.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Patrick Russill receives ABCD Chair's Award". Association of British Choral Directors. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (Hon RAM)". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  9. ^ "London Youth Choir - Who's Who". Retrieved 2013-07-06.