Andrew Nethsingha is the Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. But what does his job entail, and what else has Andrew Nethsingha done in his musical career? Read on...


Who is Andrew Nethsingha?

Andrew Nethsingha has served as Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey since January 2023. He replaced James O’Donnell, who left the Abbey at Christmas 2022 for a new position at Yale in the US.

The role means that Andrew Nethsingha is the Abbey’s director of music and principal conductor of the Abbey Choir. He is the head of the Abbey music department and is responsible for all musical aspects of the Abbey’s work.

Andrew Nethsingha's responsibilities include organising the music for the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 6 May 2023. He will also be directing the music during the service.

How old is Andrew Nethsingha?

Andrew Nethsingha was born on 16 May, 1968.

What did Andrew Nethsingha do before working at Westminster Abbey?

Before coming to Westminster Abbey, Nethsingha served as director of music at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he was a huge success in his 15 years in post.

Taking over from David Hill in 2007, Nethsingha took the Cambridge choir from strength to strength, with a string of highly acclaimed recordings ranging from familiar works by Mozart and Vaughan Williams to lesser-known repertoire and composers from the present-day – commissioning new music has been a hallmark of Nethsingha’s time in charge.

Before taking up his appointment at Westminster Abbey, Andrew spent 15 years as Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge. Under his direction the acclaimed Choir of St John’s toured extensively, including in North America, South Africa, the Far East and throughout Europe, and released over 25 recordings.

At Westminster, he took over at a choir that is in equally fine fettle. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most able choirmasters, James O’Donnell was at Westminster Abbey from 2000, when he made the short journey over from Westminster Cathedral.

The choir’s recordings for the Hyperion label, not least of British music from the Renaissance and early-20th century, have also enjoyed rave reviews. High-profile occasions to have taken place under his watch include the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

As a conductor Andrew Nethsingha has worked with many leading orchestras in the UK and further afield including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Britten Sinfonia, Orchestra of St Luke’s (New York), Aarhus Symfoniorkester and BBC Concert Orchestra. He has performed at venues and festivals across the world including the BBC Proms, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Verbier Festival, Tokyo Suntory Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin and Singapore Esplanade.

Commenting about his new appointment, Nethsingha, who was previously at Gloucester and Truro cathedrals, said that ‘it will be a great privilege to contribute to the worship in a building of such beauty and historical significance. Following the work of his eminent predecessors, James O’Donnell has created a choir of enormous distinction’.

What is Andrew Nethsingha's role in the Coronation of King Charles?

The Coronation of Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort at Westminster Abbey will feature performances of 12 newly commissioned pieces of music, showcasing musical talent from across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

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We're promised a range of musical styles and performers that will blend tradition, heritage and ceremony with new musical voices of today, reflecting The King’s life-long love and support of music and the arts.

His Majesty The King has personally commissioned the new music and shaped and selected the musical programme for the Service.

Sir Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera House's music director, will be conducting the specially formed Coronation Orchestra, made up of musicians drawn from orchestras under the patronage of the former Prince of Wales. As Prince of Wales, Charles was an enthusiastic patron of classical music.

Six orchestral commissions, five choral commissions and one organ commission have been specially composed for the occasion by a range of world-renowned British composers. Commissioned works include a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, a new commission for solo organ embracing musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth by Iain Farrington plus new works by Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J. Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams, and Debbie Wiseman.

Soloists will include bass-baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel; soprano, Pretty Yende and baritone, Roderick Williams. The organ will be played by sub-organist, Westminster Abbey, Peter Holder, and Assistant Organist, Westminster Abbey, Matthew Jorysz.

The official Royal Harpist Alis Huws will perform as part of the Coronation Orchestra in recognition of The King’s long-standing and deeply held relationship and affiliation with Wales. One of the liturgical sections of the ceremony will also be performed in Welsh.

At the request of His Majesty, in tribute to his late father His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Greek Orthodox music will also feature in the Service performed by the Byzantine Chant Ensemble.

The Service will be sung by The Choir of Westminster Abbey and The Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, together with girl choristers from the Chapel Choir of Methodist College, Belfast and from Truro Cathedral Choir. The Ascension Choir, a handpicked gospel choir will also perform as part of the Service and The King’s Scholars of Westminster School will proclaim the traditional ‘Vivat’ acclamations.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists in a pre-Service programme of choral music. A small group of singers from The Monteverdi Choir will also join the main choral forces for the Service.

What has Andrew Nethsingha said about organising the music for the Coronation?

Andrew Nethsingha says: 'All Coronation Services are a mixture of deep-rooted tradition and contemporary innovation. As was the case in the four twentieth-century Coronations, the choice of music reflects the cultural breadth of the age in which we live. Coronations have taken place in Westminster Abbey since 1066. It has been a privilege to collaborate with His Majesty in choosing fine musicians and accessible, communicative music for this great occasion.'


Image by Ben Phillips


Jeremy PoundDeputy Editor, BBC Music Magazine

Jeremy Pound is currently BBC Music Magazine’s Deputy Editor, a role he has held since 2004. Before that, he was the features editor of Classic CD magazine, and has written for a colourful array of publications ranging from Music Teacher to History Revealed, Total Football and Environment Action; in 2018, he edited and co-wrote The King’s Singers: Gold 50th anniversary book.