Simon Lindley

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Simon Lindley (born 10 October 1948) is a British organist, choirmaster, conductor and composer. Organist Emeritus of Leeds Minster 2016-. He has been City Organist since 1976 [and remains so on retirement from the Minster] and was Master of the Music and organist of Leeds Minster (the Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds) from April 1975 until retirement in September 2016.

Senior Lecturer in Music at Leeds Polytechnic from 1976 to 1987, Lindley held the post of Senior Assistant Music Officer for Leeds City Council from 1987 to 2011. He was president of the Royal College of Organists from 2000 to 2003, and of the Incorporated Association of Organists from 2003 to 2005. He has been secretary of the Church Music Society since 1991. He served on the editorial panel for New English Praise (2006), a supplement to the New English Hymnal and was, with Michael Fleming, responsible for much of the musical compilation of the supplement. He has been chairman of the Ecclesiastical Music Trust from 2004 – the trustees all being directors of the English Hymnal Company – and Chairman of the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama from 2006 to 2013. Lindley was in 2008 elected as President of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir in succession to Dr John Sanders. In 2009, Lindley was elected a trustee of the Halifax 900 Trust at Halifax Minster. In April 2012, Lindley was appointed Chairman of the Music Planning Group of Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and in summer of that year was elected a Trustee of Leeds Philharmonic Society.

Lindley is a much recorded as organ soloist or orchestral organist with orchestras and the Huddersfield Choral Society, and as accompanist to cornet virtuoso Phillip McCann, trumpeter Murray Grieg and violinists David Greed and Marat Bisengaliev.


Born in Barnehurst, Kent on the outskirts of south London, England, on 10 October 1948, Lindley was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford and at the Royal College of Music where he studied organ, piano and voice. His father, The Reverend Geoffrey Lindley, a Yorkshireman (20 September 1922 – 18 November 2010) was an Anglican priest, and his mother, Jeanne, (17 June 1923 - 6 October 2014)an author, was the daughter of Belgian scholar and historian Professor Emile Cammaerts. A vice-president of the Royal College of Organists, Lindley comes from a musical family – his great grandmother, Marie Brema, was mezzo soloist in the first performance of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius at the 1900 Birmingham Festival and his sister, Ruth, a graduate of the University of Warwick who trained as a musician at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the City of London was for many years a member of the professional choir of the London Oratory.

After a 1969 début recital at Westminster Cathedral where he acted for some time as a deputy organist during the tenure of Colin Mawby as Master of the Cathedral Music, with Nicolas Kynaston as Organist and Assistant Master of Music, Lindley's early work included a 1975 broadcast of the Elgar Organ Sonata in G, Op 28 at the Proms. This launched a recording career that has included several CDs for Naxos Records and Chandos Records, including French Organ Music from Leeds Parish Church, Handel Concertos with Northern Sinfonia and the Khachaturian Organ Symphony, with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Fedor Gluschenko, recorded live at a concert in Leeds Town Hall. Also recorded at Leeds Town Hall are acclaimed performances with the Orchestra of Opera North including Vaughan WilliamsJob: A Masque for Dancing, WaltonBelshazzar's Feast and the Coronation Marches Crown Imperial and Orb and Sceptre, and – more recently BartókDuke Bluebeard's Castle conducted by Opera North Music Director, Richard Farnes. Other Chandos Records releases include, with Huddersfield Choral Society, Christmas Music by and Brian Kay, Choral Music by Sir Arnold Bax and several recordings in the series The World's Most Beautiful Melodies with cornet virtuoso Phillip McCann.

After experience in a number of London churches including Holy Trinity Sloane Street and St Cuthbert's, Philbeach Gardens – Lindley came to prominence in the City of London through his work at St Olave Hart Street (the Church of diarist Samuel Pepys), St Anne and St Agnes, Gresham Street, and as Organ Tutor at the Royal School of Church Music's (RSCM) College of St Nicolas. During and since his student years he worked at Westminster Cathedral where he was accompanied on two gramophone recordings by the cathedral choir. After leaving London he was from 1970 to 1975, based at St Albans Cathedral as assistant to the then Master of the Music Peter Hurford. As well as his work with St Albans Cathedral Choir, he was Director of Music at St Albans School from 1971 to 1975. The boys' choir that he developed at the school became a regular feature of the London musical scene and flourishes today as does the annual musical collaboration between St Albans School and St Albans High School for Girls.

Lindley retains close connections with the ecclesiastical and musical life of the City of London where his career began over forty years ago. Lindley is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He held office at the Musicians' Church St Sepulchre-without-Newgate; from 2003 to 2014, serving as chairman of the Friends of the Musicians' Chapel and, in addition, from 2007 to 2014, as a churchwarden.

In 1975 he moved to Yorkshire to take up the position of Director of Leeds Minster Choir (from 1841 to 2012 known world-wide as The Choir of Leeds Parish Church being appointed Leeds City Organist a year later. In 1976, he began work as senior lecturer in Music at Leeds Polytechnic, a position he held until 1987 when he was appointed to the post of Senior Assistant Music Officer for Leeds City Council – Lindley retired from this position on 31 March 2011. Although the Church of England has questioned the compatibility of freemasonry and Christianity in a report published in 1987, Lindley served as Organist to Zetland Lodge of Freemasons from 1999 to 2005, No 1311 on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England. He also served a lengthy term Lodge Almoner and during 2007 and 2008 was Master of the Lodge. After his term as Immediate Past Master, he returned to the role of Organist in November 2009, holding that post until re-appointment as Master of the Lodge in November 2014. Additionally, Lindley held office between April 2010 and April 2012 as Grand Organist to the United Grand Lodge of England. He was first appointed Provincial Grand Organist to the Masonic Province of Yorkshire, West Riding in May 2010 and has since, in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and, most recently been re-appointed in that capacity in 2016; at the Provincial Investiture in May 2015, Lindley was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Warden, whilst retaining active rank as Provincial Grand Organist. In March 2010 Lindley was exalted into the St Laurence Chapter No 2330 as a Companion in the Holy Royal Arch – he is Assistant Organist to the Chapter. Lindley is also Organist to the Richard Gill Chapter of Rose-Croix Freemasons. In 2006, he received the Spirit of Leeds Award from Leeds Civic Trust. In February 2009 was elected an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Leeds and in February 2016 to Honorary Life Membership of Leeds Organists' Association. In September 2016 the "Leeds Award" from Leeds City Council was conferred upon him by Councillor Judith Elliott at a special ceremony in Leeds Town Hall.

During the 1970s and 80s he was Chorus Master to Halifax Choral Society and the Leeds Philharmonic Society, and is a life vice-president of both choirs. His work as a senior Special Commissioner of the Royal School of Church Music – work undertaken for over forty years – has included directing courses on four continents and membership of its Advisory Board.

During 2009, Lindley undertook two overseas visits on behalf of the Royal School of Church Music as Choral Course Director in Cape Town, at the South African National Summer School, and North Carolina at the Carolina Course for Girl Choristers and Adult Singers. During Easter Week he gave recitals and lectures in Russia at Kirov and Moscow at the Gnessins Academy. In spring 2010, Lindley directed the Swiss Archdeaconry Choirs' Festival Weekend at Christ Church, Lausanne and Lausanne Cathedral. He travelled to Zurich in early June 2012 for a special concert with Fine Arts Brass as part of the celebrations commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. He had, earlier in 2012, directed the music at the special service in Halifax Minster marking the start of West Yorkshire's Diamond Jubilee events; participating musicians were the Choir of Bradford Cathedral, the Choir of Leeds Parish Church and the Choir of Halifax Minster with the University of Huddersfield Brass Band, the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Marines, Rosyth, Scotland together with Minster Director of Music Christopher Brown at the organ. Dr Lindley was much involved in the planning of the major North of England Festival organised by the Royal School of Church Music at Leeds Town Hall under the direction of Dr Gordon Stewart – the first such RSCM festival held in Leeds since 1961. In late October 2014, Lindley paid a short visit to Johannesburg, South Africa for two organ concerts and the direction of a choral workshop for the Royal of Church Music South Africa at St George's Anglican Church, Parktown.

Lindley remains (2016) organist at Leeds Town Hall and is Organist Emeritus of Leeds Minster (having retired in September 2016, having been the longest-serving musician in almost 300 years of continual musical endeavour there). At the Minster his duties included direction of its Choir; he is also Music Director of Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds, a chamber choir founded by Harry Fearnley in 1977. He serves in addition as Music Director of Overgate Hospice Choir Halifax – a post held since 1997 – and from 1999 to 2013 was Conductor of Leeds College of Music Community Choral Society. He took up the posts of Conductor of Sheffield Bach Choir in September 2009 and in November 2010 directed his first performance as Conductor of Doncaster Choral Society; Lindley remains actively engaged in both these significant conducting positions and as Music Director of Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds.

In the academic field, Lindley has served as an external examiner to the music departments of a number of universities in the North of England and to the Royal Academy of Music. He has been a member of the Examining Panel of the Royal College of Organists since 1977 and has served as chairman of all the practical examining panels in turn and of the Paperwork Examiners for the College's coveted Choirmaster's Diploma now re-styled the Dip ChD. Until summer of 2016, Lindley was a Visiting Tutor in advanced organ skills, and in church music, at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Lindley lives in the Moravian Settlement at Fulneck south of Pudsey. He gives monthly recitals at Fulneck Moravian Church and directs an annual Fulneck Baroque weekend, featuring the music of Bach and Handel with the Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds. The 2012 weekend featured sacred music by Haydn – the Nelson Mass and motets by Mozart including the Ave verum corpus and Splendente Te, Deus. In summer 2011 the Mass in B minor of J S Bach was performed on Bank Holiday Monday. 2013, Israel in Egypt, found the spectacular oratorio by Handel as the work of choice on Monday 27 August. On Monday 9 December, Messiah was given for the second consecutive year in the season of Advent under the auspices of a generous private sponsor. The late summer Bank Holiday concert on 25 August 2014 was Samson by Handel with Principals of the National Festival Orchestra. The same forces on 31 August 2015 presented two major Handel works - The Foundling Hospital Anthem of 1749 and the earlier Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne along with two of the four Coronation Anthems - Let thy hand be strengthened and My heart is inditing. Handel was again the composer of choice for Fulneck Baroque on late summer Bank Holiday Monday 28 August 2016, when the regular forces gave the Anthem on The Peace, Chandos Anthem IX - O praise the Lord with one consent and I will magnify Thee, O Lord. A further Fulneck Concert, in November 2016, presented Bach's Zion hears the watchmen's voices, the Vivaldi Gloria and Magnificat and Part 1 of Handel's Messiah with Principals of the National Festival Orchestra.

The Yorkshire Evening Post announced, on the afternoon of Advent Sunday, 29 November 2015, that after more than 40 years' devoted service to Leeds Minster, Lindley had decided to retire. His last engagement as Master of Music, according to a statement from the Rector-Designate, the Reverend Canon Sam Corley, would "be the service to mark the 175th anniversary of the dedication of the present church, to be held at 4pm on Saturday, 3 September 2016". The appointment of Lindley’s successor, Mr Paul Dewhurst, Director of Music at St Giles’, Pontefract, was formally announced in the Weekly Bulletin on Sunday 6 August 2016, to take effect from November.

Dr Lindley has four children and three grandchildren.


Lindley's published compositions include a number of carol arrangements, most notably "Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain" (Banks Music Publications). He has alleged to have produced more Easter carol arrangements than any other living British composer. These include "Now the green blade riseth", "On Easter morn, ere break of day", "Jacob's Ladder" (all published by Banks Music Publications), "The Bell Man's Song" (published by Encore Publications), "Cedit hiems enimus" (from Piae Cantiones, 1582) and "Mary, weep not, weep no longer" (Collaudemus). "Now the green blade riseth" is included with the Oxford University Press anthology "Ash Wednesday to Easter for Choirs" edited by Lionel Dakers and John Scott and has received many recordings and broadcasts, the most recent being by the Choir of Chester Cathedral on Easter Day, Sunday 5 April 2015.

He has produced several anthems including "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house" Royal School of Church Music and very widely sung "Ave Maria" available in two versions; the original for upper voices (Banks Music Publications – this had appeared originally under the imprint of Basil Ramsey, Publisher of Music – this version is found in the RSCM's "The English Anthem Collection, Volume Two") and an SATB setting Royal School of Church Music. "Ave Maria" has been recorded and broadcast by numerous choirs, including a notable performance by soprano Katherine Jenkins on her album Sacred Arias. This work was also sung during a Mass attended by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the United Kingdom in 2010.

Honorary, voluntary and other positions[edit]

  • Special Commissioner (1975) and Area Music Representative Ripon and Leeds area, the Royal School of Church Music – accredited Examiner, RSCM Choristers' Awards
  • Chairman of the Friends of the Musicians' Chapel at the Musicians' Church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in the City of London (2003–2014); Churchwarden of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate (2007–2014)
  • Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Music Trust, founded by Ralph Vaughan Williams and other directors of the English Hymnal as the charitable arm of the English Hymnal Company Limited (2004–) (Trustee from 1998)
  • Chairman of the Trustees, Yorkshire College of Music and Drama (2006–2013)
  • President of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir (2008–)
  • Chairman, Cavaillé-Coll Steering Group, Sheffield Cathedral (2009–2011)
  • Trustee, Halifax 900 Trust at Halifax Minster (2009–)
  • Founder-trustee of the Sir George Thalben-Ball Memorial Trust
  • Trustee of the John Pilling Trust (1999–)- now (2016) the senior serving member of the Trustee body
  • Member of the Royal Society of Musicians
  • Director of The English Hymnal Company Limited (1995–)
  • Music Compiler – joint with Michael Fleming – of New English Praise, a supplement to The New English Hymnal (2006)
  • President of the Royal College of Organists (2000–2003); Vice-President (2003–); Vice-Presidential Member of the College's Trustee Council (2012)
  • President of the Incorporated Association of Organists (2003–2005)
  • Secretary of the Church Music Society (1991–)
  • Trustee of the Friends of the Music of Leeds Parish Minster (1996–)
  • Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians (2006–)
  • Honorary Life Patron, Doncaster Choral Society (2006–)
  • Honorary Life Member, Colne Valley Male Voice Choir (2011–)
  • Chairman, Music Planning Group, Leeds Philharmonic Society (2012–)
  • Patron, The White Rosettes Ladies Barbershop Chorus (2012–)
  • General Secretary, The Guild of Church Musicians (2013–2013)
  • Adjudicator, Leeds Got Talent (20th April 2016)

Academic awards, honours and distinctions[edit]

External links[edit]