Simon Lindley - Biography


Born in Barnehurst, Kent on the outskirts of south London, England, on 10 October 1948, Lindley was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford and at the Royal College of Music where he studied organ, piano and voice. His father, The Reverend Geoffrey Lindley, a Yorkshireman (20 September 1922 – 18 November 2010) was an Anglican priest, and his widow, Jeanne, an author, is the daughter of Belgian scholar and historian Professor Emile Cammaerts. A vice-president of the Royal College of Organists, Lindley comes from a musical family - his great grandmother, Marie Brema, was mezzo soloist in the first performance of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius at the 1900 Birmingham Festival and his sister, Ruth, a graduate of the University of Warwick who trained as a musician at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the City of London was for many years a member of the professional choir of the London Oratory.

After a 1969 début recital at Westminster Cathedral where he acted for some time as a deputy organist during the tenure of Colin Mawby as Master of the Cathedral Music, Lindley's early work included a 1975 broadcast of the Elgar Organ Sonata in G, Op 28 at the Proms. This launched a recording career that has included several CDs for Naxos Records and Chandos Records, including French Organ Music from Leeds Parish Church, Handel Concertos with Northern Sinfonia and the Khachaturian Organ Symphony, with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Fedor Gluschenko, recorded live at a concert in Leeds Town Hall. Also recorded at Leeds Town Hall are acclaimed performances with the Orchestra of Opera North including Vaughan Williams - Job: A Masque for Dancing, Walton - Belshazzar's Feast and the Coronation Marches Crown Imperial and Orb and Sceptre, and - more recently Bartók - Duke Bluebeard's Castle conducted by Opera North Music Director, Richard Farnes. Other Chandos Records releases include Christmas Music by Huddersfield Choral Society and Brian Kay, and several recordings in the series The World's Most Beautiful Melodies with cornet virtuoso Phillip McCann.

After experience in a number of London churches including Holy Trinity Sloane Street and St Cuthbert's Philbeach Gardens - Lindley came to prominence in the City of London through his work at St Olave Hart Street - the Church of diarist Samuel Pepys and St Anne and St Agnes Gresham Street and as Organ Tutor at the Royal School of Church Music's (RSCM) College of St Nicolas. During and since his student years he worked at Westminster Cathedral where he was accompanied on two gramophone recordings by the cathedral choir. After leaving London he was from 1970 to 1975, at St Albans Cathedral as Assistant Master of the Music for St Albans Cathedral Choir, where he was Peter Hurford's assistant and Director of Music at St Albans School from 1971 to 1975. The boys' choir that he developed at the school became a regular feature of the London musical scene and flourishes today as does the annual musical collaboration between St Albans School and St Albans High School for Girls.

Lindley retains close connections with the ecclesiastical and musical life of the City of London where his career began over forty years ago. He is a churchwarden of the Musicians' Church St Sepulchre-without-Newgate and chairman of the Friends of the Musicians' Chapel. Lindley is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

In 1975 he moved to Yorkshire to take up the position of Director of Leeds Minster Choir (from 1841 to 2012 known world-wide as The Choir of Leeds Parish Church being appointed Leeds City Organist a year later. In 1976, he began work as senior lecturer in Music at Leeds Polytechnic, a position he held until 1987 when he was appointed to the post of Senior Assistant Music Officer for Leeds City Council - Lindley retired from this post on 31 March 2011. Although the Church of England has questioned the compatibility of freemasonry and Christianity in a report published in 1987, Lindley served as Organist to Zetland Lodge of Freemasons from 1999 to 2005, No 1311 on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England. He is Lodge Almoner and during 2007 and 2008 served as Master of the Lodge. After his term as Immediate Past Master, he returned to the role of Organist in November 2009. Additionally, Lindley held office between April 2010 and April 2012 as Grand Organist to the United Grand Lodge of England. He was first appointed Provincial Grand Organist to the Masonic Province of Yorkshire, West Riding in May 2010 and has since, in 2011 and 2012 been re-appointed in that capacity. In March 2010 Lindley was exalted into the St Laurence Chapter No 2330 as a Companion in the Holy Royal Arch. In 2006, he received the Spirit of Leeds Award from Leeds Civic Trust and in February 2009 was elected an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club of Leeds.

During the 1970s and 80s he was Chorus Master to The Halifax Choral Society and the Leeds Philharmonic Society, and is a life vice-president of both choirs. His work as a senior Special Commissioner of the Royal School of Church Music - work undertaken for over 35 years - has included directing courses on four continents and membership of its Advisory Board.

During 2009, Lindley undertook two overseas visits on behalf of the Royal School of Church Music as Choral Course Director in Cape Town, at the South African National Summer School, and North Carolina at the Carolina Course for Girl Choristers and Adult Singers. During Easter Week he gave recitals and lectures in Russia at Kirov and Moscow at the Gnessins Academy. In spring 2010, Lindley directed the Swiss Archdeaconry Choirs' Festival Weekend at Christ Church, Lausanne and Lausanne Cathedral. He travelled to Zurich in early June 2012 for a special concert with Fine Arts Brass as part of the celebrations commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. He had, earlier in 2012, directed the music at the special service in Halifax Minster marking the start of West Yorkshire's Diamond Jubilee events; participating musicians were the Choir of Bradford Cathedral, the Choir of Leeds Parish Church and the Choir of Halifax Minster with the University of Huddersfield Brass Band, the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Marines, Rosyth, Scotland together with Minster Director of Music Christopher Brown at the organ.

Lindley remains (2012) organist at Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Minster (the longest-serving musician in almost 300 years of continual musical endeavour there). At the Minster his duties include direction of its Choir; he is also Music Director of Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds, a chamber choir founded by Harry Fearnley in 1977. He serves in addition as Music Director of Overgate Hospice Choir Halifax and Leeds College of Music Community Choral Society. He took up the posts of Conductor of Sheffield Bach Choir in autumn 2009 and in November 2010 was appointed Conductor to Doncaster Choral Society.

In the academic field, Lindley is a visiting tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music and an external examiner to the music departments of a number of universities in the North of England and to the Royal Academy of Music. He has been a member of the Examining Panel of the Royal College of Organists since 1977 and has served as chairman of all the practical examining panels in turn and of the Paperwork Examiners for the College's coveted Choirmaster's Diploma now re-styled the Dip ChD. He is a Visiting Tutor in advanced organ skills, and in church music, at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Lindley lives in the Moravian Settlement at Fulneck south of Pudsey. He gives monthly recitals at Fulneck Moravian Church and directs an annual Fulneck Baroque weekend, featuring the music of Bach and Handel with the Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds and St Peter's Chamber Orchestra. The 2012 weekend will feature sacred music by Haydn - the Nelson Mass and motets by Mozart including the Ave verum corpus and Splendente Te, Deus. In summer 2011 the Mass in B minor of J S Bach was performed on Bank Holiday Monday.

He has four children and two grandchildren.

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