Find out more about the tutors taking part in this years Pulling Out the Stops program…
Since his debut at the age of eighteen, Colin Andrews has been recognized as a musician of great versatility, power and artistry. Born in Bristol, England, Andrews initally studied with Garth Benson of St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol. At sixteen, he entered London’s Royal Academy of Music for four years of organ and piano study under principal Professors, Douglas Hawkridge & Margaret McDonald. He later moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where he was a student of Professor Lionel Rogg at the Conservatoire de Musique. Following his return to Britain, he studied privately for two years with Dame Gillian Weir.
Colin Andrews has been the recipient of many awards, most notably, he was a prizewinner at both the 1980 and 1982 Dublin International Organ Competitions in Ireland, and, in 1993, The Royal Academy of Music, London, bestowed an Associateship upon him in recognition of his distinguished performing career.
Mr. Andrews has toured worldwide as a solo recitalist. He has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, including The Royal Festival Hall, London; King’s College, Cambridge; The Moscow Conservatoire (Bolshoi & Rachmaninov Halls), The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall & Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Russia and The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris (three appearances).
Conducting, organ performance and teaching have formed the backbone of Sarah Baldock’s career since leaving Cambridge, where she was Organ Scholar at Pembroke College, and immediately after graduating, Organist-in-Residence at Tonbridge School. Although her musical training focused on orchestral playing and chamber music as a Music Scholar in violin and piano at St Paul’s Girls’ School, an unusual opportunity emerged at the age of 23 when, despite not having had a chorister background, she was appointed founder Director of the Girls’ Choir at Winchester Cathedral. Sarah was later appointed Assistant Director of Music, accompanying the Winchester Cathedral boys and men in daily services, recordings, broadcasts and international tours.
Sarah proceeded to be Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chichester Cathedral during which time she directed two Southern Cathedrals Festivals, made a second solo organ CD and undertook several recordings and European tours with the Choir. As a conductor, Sarah has worked in New York, Kentucky, Norway and Sweden and continues to contribute to education projects. She is a former Trustee and regular course tutor for the Royal College of Organists. Collaborations with artist Sophie Hacker and composer David Owen Norris have brought an enriching dimension to her experience as a musician. Sarah performs internationally as an organ soloist, recently broadcasting with the BBC Singers and Concert Orchestra. She is the new director of the Winchester Music Club.
Tom Bell’s playing has been described as “invigorating” (Sunday Times), “compelling” (Organists’ Review) and “brilliant” (American Record Guide). Tom has built a vibrant portfolio as a performer, teacher and animateur. He has performed across Europe, in Australia, the Far East and the USA. Tom’s recordings have been broadcast and won praise internationally. His highly acclaimed recording Freak Out! (Regent 2021), was described in The American Organist as “remarkable…a masterclass”, and in BBC Music Magazine as “in equal parts brilliant and a bit bonkers”. “Beyond dispute”, continues The American Organist, “is Bell’s grand vision of organ music.”
Tom has a reputation as an innovator, collaborating with poets, dancers, visual artists and folk musicians. His work with Richard Brasier pushes the boundaries of organ duo. An ardent proponent of new music, Tom has premiered many new works including chorale preludes for the Orgelbüchlein Project and a cantata by Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon. Tom pioneered the combination of organ and beatbox, performing with Shlomo on BBC Radio 3 and at the Royal Festival Hall. In May 2019, with William Whitehead, John Scott Whiteley and Laurens de Man, Tom participated in the first complete performance of the Orgelbüchlein Project at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. The 164 pieces took four organists, and five organs, nine hours to perform. A similar marathon in London in 2023 received international press attention. Tom participated in a performance of Jean Guillou’s nine-organ epic, La Révolte des Orgues, at Westminster Cathedral; he returned to that place in April 2022 to perform Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement. Messiaen’s music is one of Tom’s two principal preoccupations at present: he has a Messiaen vlog on YouTube, and a film project – to be recorded at La Trinité in Paris – is currently being crowdfunded by Fugue State Films. By contrast, another current interest concerns a study of English nineteenth century performance practice, particularly the work of W. T. Best. This project encompasses academic writings, and pure fun in his costumed quasi-steampunk The Best Experience concerts.
International prize-winning organist Neil Cockburn is Director of Chapel Music at the University of King’s College, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Celebrated for his diverse repertoire interests and expertise, he performs an all-encompassing spectrum of solo organ recitals on a wide range of instrument types, from all-Bach recitals on historically inspired organs, to symphonic programmes on romantic instruments, and concerts of entirely new works. His most recent solo recording is of the Mass on the Sixth Tone with three Magnificat Suites by the seventeenth-century French composer, André Raison. He also performs frequently as a continuo player on organ and harpsichord.
Born in Scotland, Neil Cockburn’s musical education was at Oxford University (BA Hons, Music), the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK (MusM, Organ Performance, and the Professional Performance Diploma, PPRNCM), the Conservatoire National de Région Rueil-Malmaison, France (Premier prix de perfectionnement), and the University of Calgary (PhD, Musicology). His formative teachers and mentors include David Sanger, Margaret Phillips, and Dame Gillian Weir. He won First Prize at the 1996 Dublin International Organ Competition, and has received numerous other prestigious awards, including the W. T. Best Memorial Organ Scholarship (UK), a scholarship from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust (UK), and the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Prize — awarded by an international panel of judges.
From 2000 until 2015 he was Head of Organ Studies at Mount Royal Conservatory, where he worked alongside Simon Preston on the International Summer School (2000-2009), and was Artistic Director of the Calgary Organ Festival (2010-2015). He was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award (Credit Free) by Mount Royal University in June 2014. He became Director of Music at the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary in 2015 – a position he held until 2022.
Ann Elise Smoot
Ann Elise is the Director, Creative Oundle for Organists, as well as recitalist, and teacher.
Ann Elise Smoot performs throughout the United States, Great Britain and Europe, with a repertoire that ranges from the 14th century to the present day, and has received wide critical acclaim for her ability to move between musical eras, styles and genres with sympathy and flair. After completing two degrees at Yale, where she won several prizes for scholarship and for organ playing, she moved to England, where she studied organ and harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music, and privately with Peter Hurford and Dame Gillian Weir. Three critically acclaimed recordings have been issued by the JAV label.
Ann Elise has also contributed several articles as a freelance writer to publications such as Music Teacher Magazine, Classical Music, Organists’ Review, Choir and Organ, and the RCO Journal, and currently holds the post of Education Editor at Organists’ Review.
Steven Grahl is a sought-after conductor and keyboard player. He took up the post of Organist (Director of Music) and Tutor in Music at Christ Church, Oxford in 2018. From January 2024, he will take up the post of Director of Music at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also an Associate Professor of Music at Oxford University, Conductor of Schola Cantorum of Oxford, and Musical Director of Benson Choral Society. Steven served as Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral from 2014 to 2018, where he was responsible for training the Cathedral Choir, and for the re-pitching of the Hill Organ, on which instrument he has recorded a solo CD. Peterborough Cathedral Choir’s recording of Cheryl Frances Hoad’s EvenYouSong, made under Steven’s direction, was released to critical acclaim in December 2017.
For seven years, Steven was Assistant Organist at New College, Oxford, and he combined this post with that of Organist and Director of Music at St Marylebone Parish Church, London. He has also been musical director of The Guildford Chamber Choir, Peterborough Choral Society, and The Stamford Chamber Orchestra. Conducting engagements include: Bach Mass in B minor with Schola Cantorum and Instruments of Time and Truth; Verdi Requiem with Peterborough Choral Society and Cathedral Choirs; Bach Magnificat and Handel Coronation Anthems with the Guildford Chamber Choir and Instruments of Time and Truth; and works by Escaich, Copland, Maw, and Whitacre with Cambridge University Symphony Chorus. Steven has worked with numerous other ensembles, including The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Guildford Philharmonic, New London Chamber Choir, Prime Brass, and Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra.
Based in Edinburgh, John Riley is a freelance musician. His varied career has included music retailing, Piano-Director of a German spa orchestra, and working in schools with children of a very wide range of abilities, including many years as teacher in charge of music and computing studies at a special needs school. As a flexible musician, John is experienced in working in a range of styles and contexts. John is particularly noted as a performer and teacher of organ improvisation. He is also an exponent in the neglected art of classical piano improvisation.
John has acted as guest tutor on two of the annual London Organ Improvisation Courses, (LOIC). He has given classes on improvisation to various organists’ associations and schools across the UK, also several for Cambridge and Oxford Universities as part of the organ scholars awards schemes, most recently for Cambridge University in March 2023. In June 2019, John gave a recital on the famous Princess Amalia Organ in Berlin, together with an improvisation class for Berlin church cantors. In 2021, he acted as tutor for the RCO-SCOTS organ training day at Dunblane Cathedral, and in May 2022, gave a presentation on organ improvisation to the annual conference of the Scottish Federation of Organists.
John’s recitals invariably contain improvisations on submitted themes or pastiches on ‘hidden melodies’ and he has performed at a number of major venues and festivals. These include:- Bavokerk, Haarlem, (Haarlem International Organ Festival); Örgryte Nya Kyrka, (Gothenburg International Organ Academy); Chester Cathedral; Liverpool Anglican Cathedral; Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Benjamin Sheen, currently Director of Music at Jesus College Cambridge, is an established concert artist on both sides of the Atlantic. Hailed as a “brilliant organist” by the New York Times, he is the 2013 winner of the Pierre S. du Pont First Prize in the inaugural Longwood Gardens Organ Competition, and that same year received Second Prize and the Jon Laukvik prize at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and the Juilliard School, is a prize- winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and the 2011 recipient of the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medal.
As a concert organist, Mr. Sheen has performed throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Singapore, and South Africa. He has also made concerto appearances with the Auckland Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City. Prior to Cambridge he held the post of Sub-Organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and before that he spent eight years at the famed Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue in New York City as Associate Organist and as Acting Director of Music after the death of John Scott in 2015. In 2021, he released the inaugural recording on the new Dobson organ at Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue featuring organ works and transcriptions from Great Britain.
As Fellow and Music Director at Jesus College, he directs the internationally renowned College Choir and boy choristers who have recently collaborated with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in a performance of Handel’s Messiah, and toured to Sweden and the Channel Islands. His first recording with the choir, featuring music for Christmas and Advent, will be released later this year. He is also a supervisor in Music and organ tutor at the Unviersity of Cambridge.