John Scott

Categories: IPYA Winners

John Scott (1956 – 2015) was born in Wakefield, England, and received his earliest musical training as a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral where he later served as Assistant Organist. While still in school he gained diplomas from the Royal College of Organists. From 1974-1978 he was Organ Scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he served as assistant to George Guest. He also studied with Ralph Downes and Dame Gillian Weir. Upon leaving Cambridge, he was appointed Assistant Organist at London’s two Anglican Cathedrals, St. Paul’s and Southwark. During this time he was awarded the First Prize of the Manchester International Organ Competition and in 1984 he became the first British musician ever to win the prestigious International J.S. Bach Organ Competition in Leipzig, Germany.

Since the late 1980’s Mr. Scott performed two recital tours each year in North America and received numerous invitations to perform organ dedication recitals in the U.S. He had performed in the U.S. with the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Choir of Southwark Cathedral as Organist and toured here twice with the St. Paul’s Choir as its Director.

John Scott enjoyed a long association with St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, first serving there as Assistant Director of Music and Sub-Organist for five years under Christopher Dearnley; in 1990 he was appointed Organist and Director of Music. Among the highlights of his work there was serving as soloist in the organ voluntaries and accompanist to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. In addition to his duties at St. Paul’s, John Scott served as Professor of Organ at the Royal Academy of Music and as Accompanist of the Bach Choir under Sir David Willcocks.

Mr. Scott was appointed Organist and Music Director of Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, beginning in September 2004. He succeeded Gerre Hancock.

As a concert organist, he was particularly known for his performances of large-scale romantic and 20th century repertoire and has premiered many works written for him by Petr Eben, Kenneth Leighton, and William Mathias, among others. In addition, he performed the earlier organ repertoire and appeared as soloist with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Tallis Scholars and the King’s Consort. In 1977 he became the youngest organ soloist to appear at the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall and performed his second Prom recital in August 1996. He performed with the Royal Philharmonic under Sir Charles Groves and the London Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas. His career as a solo recitalist took him to the U.S., nearly every European country, Canada, Australia, the Far East, and South America. In November 1989 he inaugurated the new Rieger organ in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and in 1990 was invited to concertize in Washington National Cathedral to celebrate its completion.

He has many award-winning recordings to his name on the Guild, Hyperion, Nimbus and Priory labels, including the organ music of Elgar, Mathias, Dupré, and the complete organ works of Duruflé and Mendelssohn. A recent recordings was a compact disc of 20th century music on the Priory label recorded on the Mander organ at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York City. John Scott also recorded frequently for the BBC Radio 3.

John Scott’s recital for the International Performer of the Year Award was presented on 20 October 1998 at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity.

Click here to listen to performances by John Scott and conversation with Michael Barone on Pipedreams.

John Scott died suddenly of cardiac arrest in New York City on August 12, 2015.