Tom Bell was born in Liverpool and raised in Lancashire. He studied with Kevin Bowyer at the Royal Northern College of Music, with Ann Elise Smoot in London, and with Jacques van Oortmerssen in Amsterdam. One of the leading performers of his generation, Tom has performed extensively across mainland Europe and the USA. His repertoire is broad, but a love of new music means that many of Tom’s performances have been innovative firsts. Tom is Artistic Director to the London Organ Day, teaches the organ for the Royal College of Organists and the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk, and has led or participated in many outreach projects, including Heritage Lottery-backed schemes in the City of London, Wimbledon and Southall, and the long-running Organworks project at Eton College, which works with schools in Slough. Tom is Royal College of Organists Director for the North of England, North Wales and the Isle of Man.
Harry Wakefield Bramma is a British organist and composer of Anglican church music. He was educated at Bradford Grammar School, studying organ with Melville Cook, organist of Leeds Parish Church. He read theology and music at Oxford University, studying as Organ Scholar of Pembroke College. He graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1958 and a Master of Arts in 1960. Harry Bramma initially started a career in teaching, spending two years at King Edward VI Grammar School in East Retford. In 1963 he moved to Worcester to be Assistant Organist at the Cathedral and to teach at The King's School, becoming Director of Music in 1965. His students at King's included a number of noted musicians, among them Nicholas Cleobury, Stephen Cleobury, Andrew Millington, Jonathan Nott, Adrian Partington and Geoffrey Webber. In 1976 he became Organist and Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral, and in 1989 moved on to become Director of the Royal School of Church Music. He was Director of Music at All Saints, Margaret Street from 1989–2004, where he planned the organ restoration.
Katherine Dienes-Williams is now the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral. It all began age 10 in Helsinki Cathedral when she heard an instrument of such beatuy that she refused to leave the building...born in Wellington, New Zealand, she began playing the organ at the age of 17 and a year later was Organ Scholar at Wellington Cathedral. She also began her double BMus and BA degrees in Music (performance organ), French and German. David Hill encouraged her to come the UK for further study, and in 1991 she was appointed to Winchester Cathedral as Organ Scholar. Since then, Katherine has been Assistant Organist at both Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Norwich Cathedral, and Director of Music at St. Mary's Collegiate Church, Warwick. She has given regular recitals in the UK and abroad (USA, Singapore, Bermuda, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary and Germany) and concerto performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Hallé and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She loves teaching the organ and is also a Trustee of the RCO and the Organists Charitable Trust.
Sarah MacDonald is a Canadian organist, conductor, and composer, living in the UK, and she holds the positions of Fellow and Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. She has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. She studied in the Glenn Gould Professional School in Toronto and at the University of Cambridge. Her teachers included Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, John Tuttle, and David Sanger. She leads a busy international career directing, writing, recording, and composing.
Based in London, Cecilia McDowall is perhaps best known for her choral works, though her output extends far beyond this and into the realm of organ music. She has won many awards including the British Composer Award Choral category in 2014 for her haunting work, Night Flight. McDowall’s distinctive style fuses fluent melodic lines with occasional dissonant harmonies and rhythmic exuberance. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs and artists, including the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, Oxford and Cambridge choirs, ensembles, and at festivals worldwide. One of her most recent CDs has been recorded by William Fox on Naxos of her entire organ catalogue. In 2021 the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, release a CD of her choral and organ music on Hyperion. In December 2020 McDowall was presented with the Ivor Novello Award for ‘outstanding works collection’ for a ‘consistently excellent body of work’. This was a 'gift' from The Ivors Academy.
(photo: Karina Lyburn)
William McVicker is Organ Curator at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Director of Music at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich. He is Chairman of the Association of Independent Organ Advisors, Professor of Organology at the Royal Academy of Music, Organs Adviser to the Diocese of Southwark and to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE).
He has performed at numerous prestigious venues, including the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey, and King’s College, Cambridge. Concert highlights have included solo appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and, with Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria, he has performed Saint-Saëns’s Third Symphony (three times), Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass. Recent recital and consultancy work has taken him to New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Nigeria, and Penang in Malaysia. An Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology, William was recently elected an Honorary Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.
We are immensely sad to report the death of SWO patron Catherine Ennis on Christmas Eve 2020. Catherine joined SWO at its outset and we were proud to have the support of such a positive force in the organ world. Catherine’s energy, warmth, musicality, and leadership skills made her a shining example to all organists, especially to SWO members. She will be sorely missed, both professionally and personally.
It is particularly painful to record Catherine’s death after we lost another valued patron, Jennifer Bate OBE, earlier in 2020.