Durham Cathedral Choir Association

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Durham Cathedral’s Master of Choristers & Organists


Durham Cathedral benefits from having four exceptional organists in James Lancelot (Master of the Choristers & Organist), Francesca Massey (Sub Organist), Jason Löwe (Assistant Organist)

The Organs

Former Organists of Durham Cathedral

Masters of the Choristers (and, ipso facto, Organists)

1535 John Brimley

1576 William Browne

1588 Robert Masterman

1589 William Smith

1599 William Browne

1608 Edward Smith

1612 Francis Dodson

1613 Richard Hutchinson

Masters of the Choristers and Organists


1661 John Foster

1677 Alexander Shaw (Organist only)

1681 William Greggs

1711 James Heseltine

1763 Thomas Ebdon

1811 Charles Clarke

1814 William Henshaw

1862 Philip Armes

1907 Arnold Culley

1933 John Dykes Bower

1936 Conrad Eden

1974 Richard Lloyd

1985 James Lancelot


1904 William Ellis

1919 Cyril Maude

1968 Bruce Cash

1973 Alan Thurlow

1980 David Hill

1982 Ian Shaw

1991 Keith Wright

2011 Francesca Massey

Assistant Organists

2009 Oliver Brett

2012 David Ratnanayagam

2016 Jason Löwe

Francesca Massey took up the post of Sub-Organist of Durham Cathedral in September 2011.  Prior to this, she was for four years Assistant Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral, where in addition to the daily provision of music for services, she regularly accompanied the cathedral choir in concerts, tours, broadcasts and recordings, including the live televised-broadcasts of Midnight Mass and Christmas Day Eucharist in 2008.  Concert venues with the choir included the cathedrals of Amiens, Bourges, Blois and Orléans.  Born in Birmingham, Francesca was educated at Cambridge University and the Royal Northern College of Music (as an ABRSM Scholar) and has held Organ Scholarships at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (also Acting Precentor for a term) and Manchester Cathedral as well as being Assistant Organist at Great St. Mary's Church, Cambridge.

At the age of 19, Francesca gained all of the top prizes in the FRCO diploma and has since been awarded the WT Best Memorial Scholarship and Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and the Musicians Benevolent Fund’s Ian Fleming Award.  She has studied with Jeremy Filsell, Kevin Bowyer, David Goode and Andrew Fletcher.

Francesca’s recital venues have included many major concert halls, cathedrals and churches in the UK, and she has also performed throughout South Africa, Sardinia, Sweden and Denmark with Caius College Choir, with whom she recorded a number of acclaimed CDs.  Francesca has worked as a tutor for Cambridge University Faculty of Music, and on various courses hosted by Oundle for Organists and the RSCM, as well as performing extensively as an organ accompanist, continuo player, pianist, violinist and singer.  She is currently the rehearsal accompanist for The Durham Singers.

Francesca Massey, Sub-Organist

Jason Löwe’s musical career began at age 13 with piano lessons, broadening a year later when he began to undertake organ lessons with Robert Birbeck of Warrington Parish Church. He became Organ Scholar of the Parish Church in 2003, and from 2005 studied Organ at the Royal Northern College of Music with Darius Battiwalla where he also received tuition from Dr Simon Lindley.

During his time at the RNCM, Jason took part in masterclasses given by Jeremy Filsell, Kevin Bowyer and Thomas Trotter and in 2009, as part of the College’s ‘Raising Sparks’ event, he gave a performance of James MacMillan’s le Tombeau de Georges Rouault which was met with great acclaim by the composer.

He was Sub-Organist of St Paul’s Church, Withington, from December 2007 until Easter 2009 and a finalist in the RNCM’s 2008 Organ Recital Prize.

Jason graduated from the RNCM in December 2009 with the B-Mus (Hons) degree, and from September 2009 to August 2011 was Sydney Nicholson Organ Scholar of Manchester Cathedral, where he developed a particular interest in psalm accompaniment. He took up his post at Giggleswick School in September 2011 where, in addition to playing for the many rehearsals and chapel services and teaching music theory, he is responsible for the upkeep and care of the school’s fine Father Willis Organ. In July 2012 he accompanied the school tour party on their Quincentenery ‘Music and Sport’ tour to Australia, where he played the piano in the Concert Band and accompanied the Concert Choir for concerts given in Queensland, Brisbane, Tamworth and Sydney.

Particularly interested in solo recital work, Jason has given recitals in Liverpool, Manchester and Blackburn Cathedrals, and in the Churches of St. Elphin, Warrington, and St. Ann, Manchester. In his capacity as Organist of Giggleswick School he has given first performances of works by Cecilia McDowall and Darren Everhart, and recently appeared as the organist for ITV’s 2013 Christmas Eve broadcast of ‘Carols from the Dales’ from St Michael’s Church, Kirkby Malham.


He has a wide ranging musical taste which includes music from all periods, but he is especially interested in the music of the German Symphonic school; in particular the works of Max Reger and Franz Schmidt. In his spare time he enjoys reading, traditional West Country cider, 1960s cult Television, and the Gainsborough Pictures films starring Will Hay.

Jason Löwe, Assistant Organist

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