James O‘Donnell honoured in New Year list

Monday, 2nd January 2023

James O'Donnell smiling along with King Charles outside Westminster Abbey

Former Organist and Master of the Choristers James O’Donnell has been made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in The King’s first New Year’s Honours list.

The Royal Victorian Order recognises distinguished personal service to the British monarch and the monarch’s family.

During his time as Organist and Master of the Choristers at the Abbey, James O’Donnell has been responsible for the music at royal, state and national occasions, including the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 29 April 2011, and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 9 April 2002.

More recently he oversaw the music and conducted the choirs at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September last year.

James O’Donnell left his position at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day after 23 years of service. He will take up a new position as a Professor in the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music later this month. James O'Donnell will also be Organist Emeritus at Westminster Abbey.

'Breath-takingly distinguished service'

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle said:

'We are delighted to see the work of our friend and colleague, James O’Donnell recognised in the New Year Honours. In 23 years of breath-takingly distinguished service he has sustained the highest standards in our daily offering of worship and overseen the music at services profoundly in the public gaze. His reputation as a conductor of choral music and as organist is, quite simply, world class. James now leaves us to take up a Professorship in the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University and goes with our thanks and best wishes.'