Date Posted... Mar 2nd 2023

New Director of Music at Truro Cathedral

We are delighted to share the announcement that James Anderson-Besant has been appointed as Truro Cathedral’s new Director of Music. He will move from his current role as Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral to take up his new post at the Cathedral in June this year.

Truro Cathedral’s Interim Dean, Simon Robinson said: “I am confident that we have, in James, a worthy successor to Christopher Gray as he leaves us for St John’s College, Cambridge after 22 years here. From an extraordinarily strong field of applicants, James shone as someone with the musicianship, vision, and personal qualities to lead the music here at Truro Cathedral which means so much to the community in Cornwall, as well as to people all over the country and abroad. He takes over at a time when the music of the cathedral is flourishing, with gifted organists, choristers and adult professional singers whose development he will soon steward. I am also delighted that our Assistant Director of Music, Andrew Wyatt, will be Acting Director of Music until James arrives.”

Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, acted as External Musical Adviser to the cathedral’s appointing panel, he said: “‘I am delighted to congratulate James Anderson-Besant on his appointment at Truro Cathedral. It is a very special place indeed, full of wonderful people and with a very fine choir. Christopher Gray’s work in Truro has been inspirational. Chris will be a hard act to follow, but James’s appointment is extremely good news for Truro”.

Andy Johnson Head of Truro School said, “Truro School are thrilled by the appointment of James Anderson-Besant and look forward to working with James, building on the excellent partnership that exists between Truro Cathedral and Truro School”.

Since September 2021, James Anderson-Besant has been the Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral, where he acts as the principal accompanist to the cathedral’s liturgy and works with the Director of Music, Timothy Noon, to train the choristers. He also directs the St Peter’s Singers, the cathedral’s auditioned voluntary choir and is active as a freelance organ recitalist and conductor.

Prior to this, James was Organ Scholar, then Assistant Organist, at St John’s College Cambridge, where he graduated in 2020 with a double starred first degree in Music. With the College Choir, he accompanied services, broadcasts, recordings and tours under the direction of Andrew Nethsingha, and assisted in the training of the choristers. James has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and his playing for St John’s appears on many acclaimed CD releases, including The Psalms which was recently Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine.

At university, James organised and directed performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and St John Passion. He recently gave organ recitals at King’s, Queens’ and St John’s Colleges in Cambridge as well as St Albans Cathedral, and looks forward to upcoming engagements at Stockholm Cathedral and Trinity College, Cambridge. James won second prize at the 2019 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, and was also Organ Scholar for the Charles Wood Festival in Armagh under David Hill. He has held other Organ Scholar positions with the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford, and at Gloucester Cathedral, and his organ teachers have included James Brown, Stephen Farr and James McVinnie.

James said, “I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed Director of Music at Truro Cathedral. Truro has an extraordinary choir, musical tradition, and reputation; it will be a privilege to take over from Christopher Gray, whose inspirational and tireless work over many years I have admired for a long time. I greatly look forward to working with Dean Simon Robinson, choir colleagues, and others in the cathedral, school and the wider community; everyone I met at the interview was extremely kind and welcoming. I do also feel very sad to be leaving Exeter Cathedral where I have learnt so much and made many lifelong friends, but feel grateful to be staying fairly close by in the South West, even though I’ll have to relearn how to eat my scones!”