Julie Ainscough at the Frobenius organ of All Saints' Parish Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey (U.K.).

Julie Ainscough at the Frobenius organ of
All Saints' Parish Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey (U.K.).

Photograph: © Copyright 2000 Michael Harrold Artist Management.

Church Choirmaster & Organist

The choral repertoire which I encompass can range from plainsong, the polyphonic era (the Spanish masters in particular), via the North German Baroque and the Viennese classical school, to the leading English composers of the Twentieth Century (Elgar, Howells, Berkeley, Britten).  My Cathedral experience includes provision of church choirs to Guildford for their summer recess and for the Guildford & Winchester "Inter-Diocesan West Africa Link" festival service (with two Archbishops, forty-eight bishops plus retinues and a nave filled to capacity), plus St. George's, Southwark (summer recess) and organ assistance at Wells Cathedral (in conjunction with Hampton School Choir).

Until my entirely amicable resignation from the post of Organist & Director of Music at Christ Church, London SW20 (after five years' service), I was involved there in a regular routine of choir-training and accompaniment plus playing of services with voluntaries.  A typical year would see me turn out something of the order of three hundred-plus pieces of organ music in my own church (for regular services plus weddings, funerals and other one-off events), together with a variable number of anthems, motets and other choral items (given the vagaries of an amateur choir's availability...), plus music for special services elsewhere.  I directed performances, with the Christ Church choir, of such works as the Victoria Tenebrae Responsories and an interpolation of Bach chorales with related organ chorale preludes in Passiontide, while the Christmas Carol Service embraced a quality and range of choral music which elicited most favourable responses, both from within the congregation and from visitors.

I took charge - from Advent Sunday 2002 - of a fine, three-manual "Father" Willis organ, having commenced a new appointment as Director of Music at the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Ewell, near Epsom, Surrey.  This instrument is of closely similar tonal specification and quality to the renowned organ of Truro Cathedral (built two years earlier by the same distinguished Company).  One of my predecessors at Ewell was Sir William Harris KCVO (composer of such well-known anthems as "Faire is the heaven" and "Holy is the true light"), who went on to be Organist & Choirmaster of St George's Chapel, Windsor from 1933 until 1961.  Burgeoning demand for my services as a teacher of organ and piano, together with an increasing commitment to composition, and with changes at the church, rendered my tenure of the post at Ewell impracticable.  My resignation took effect from September 2007.

Having been committed heavily to working on my Doctorate at the University of Surrey and to the demands of my teaching career, I spent some years only deputising occasionally as a church organist.  However, with effect from Sunday 26th August 2012, I took up the position of Organist at St. Augustine's Abbey, Sample Oak Lane, Chilworth, near Guildford, GU4 8QR.  This community of Benedictine monks, under their Abbot, the Right Reverend Dom Paulinus Greenwood O.S.B., moved into the former Franciscan Friary and Novitiate house in November 2011, having been resident previously at Ramsgate in Kent.  The beautiful, F.A. Walters-designed, Abbey church is open to the public for private prayer, meditation and attendance at the Daily Office, which commences in the early morning with Vigils and ends in mid-evening with Compline.  Mass is sung daily, normally at 9 a.m. on weekdays and at 10 a.m. on Sundays.  The Abbey offers mainly Gregorian plainchant, the ancient, traditional music of the Roman Catholic Church;  the organ, which dates from 1915, was the gift of Wonersh resident Mr. John Courage, the famous brewer and owner of London organ builders Lewis and Company.

"Take it from me:  I've been coming to this church for the past forty years or so, but we have never had a Carol Service as good as this before."
(Parishioner, Christ Church, London SW20).

"Thank you very much for all your help on Saturday at the IDWAL service.  Your choir was splendid and the anthem was just right for the occasion.  I am so glad that St. Mary's choir will be singing the morning services at the Cathedral on Sunday 28th August.  I myself will be away on holiday, and so it is a relief to know that the music will be in good hands".
(CANON ADRIAN LEAK, formerly Præcentor of Guildford Cathedral, now retired).

"Dr. Julie Ainscough ... has supported and enhanced our Sunday Eucharist by accompanying the monks' plainchant with great care, sensitivity and understanding."
(The Right Reverend Dom M. A. Paulinus Greenwood OSB, Abbot of Chilworth, 16th November 2012).

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