Peter Holder to be Organist at Christ Church, Oxford

Tuesday, 14th May 2024

Westminster Abbey Sub-Organist: Peter Holder

Peter Holder, Sub-Organist at Westminster Abbey, has been appointed Organist and Official Student (Tutorial Fellow) at Christ Church, Oxford. He will take up his new post in the autumn.

In his current role, Peter has been the chief musical assistant to the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, playing the organ for the Abbey’s daily services and accompanying the Abbey Choir in recordings and concerts. He also serves as deputy director of the Choir and assists in training the choristers.

Peter served as principal organist at the State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II and last year's Coronation of Their Majesties The King and Queen, for which he was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. Fellowship is an honour reserved for alumni of the Academy, and Peter was one of just four musicians recognised in this way in 2024.

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

'We have been very fortunate to have enjoyed Peter’s company and to have benefitted from his wonderful music-making. At any stage in the Abbey’s remarkable history, Peter would have been a distinguished Sub-Organist, but he has been here when the eyes of the world were on us and when we had to express the sorrows and joys of nation and Commonwealth. Worship is our primary duty, and music is our pulse. In daily services, and in a State Funeral and a Coronation, Peter has served us all with style and grace. He is also a much-loved member of the Abbey community, and we will miss him. Christ Church has chosen well.  We know Peter, College and Cathedral will thrive, and we will watch with pride and pleasure.'

The Very Reverend Professor Sarah Foot, Dean of Christ Church, said:

'Peter is an outstanding musician and keyboard player and we are very fortunate to have recruited him to Christ Church. Peter is well known to a global audience, having played at the Abbey both the funeral of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Peter also has wide ranging experience in working with children and directing choirs and so is ideally suited to this role, leading our world class Cathedral Choir. We are enormously excited to welcome him to Christ Church.'

Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, said:

'Many congratulations to Peter on his magnificent achievement in being appointed to Christ Church, Oxford. There are very few Church musicians who are appointed to such a prestigious position as their first post in charge of a choir; this is a mark of the great esteem in which Peter is held. Peter has made a remarkable contribution to the great tradition of music-making at Westminster Abbey. He has been a popular, kind and wise colleague; he will be greatly missed here by us all. We will never forget his exceptional organ playing. Personally, I owe Peter a great debt of gratitude for all the support he has given me during my first few terms at the Abbey. I wish him every possible success in Oxford and I hope that he and Megan will be extremely happy there.'

Commenting on his appointment, Peter Holder said: 

'I am hugely excited to take up the post of Organist and Official Student at Christ Church, Oxford. In doing so, I inherit an exceptional legacy of musical distinction; the opportunity to continue the work of such esteemed predecessors is inspiring. At Westminster Abbey I leave behind friends and colleagues whose collective talents and collegiality have made the day-to-day extraordinary and special. I will treasure countless memories from the past seven years as Sub-Organist and much look forward to those that lie ahead at Oxford.'

More about Peter Holder

Having served for two years as Organ Scholar of Westminster Abbey, Peter was Sub-Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral between 2014 and 2017. As a recitalist, Peter performs in cathedrals and concert halls across the world. He made his BBC Proms solo debut at the 2019 First Night of the Proms performing Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass and returned in the 2021 season to perform a solo organ recital as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Peter’s solo recording, Bach ist der Vater, wir sind die Buben, produced at Neresheim Abbey, has garnered much praise. He regularly broadcasts for BBC Radio and Television and is an organ tutor at the Royal Academy of Music.

Further reading

Music at Westminster Abbey