Lichfield Cathedral has taken the unusual step of appointing not one but two people to the post of director of music. And, what’s more, the two happen to be married to each other.
From September, Ben and Cathy Lamb will be taking over the running of the Cathedral Choir from Philip Scriven, who is moving to a new post at Cranleigh School. Importantly, although both are fine organists in their own right, they will, unlike their predecessors, focus entirely on choral training duties. Martyn Rawles has been appointed to the post of cathedral organist.
With the relatively recent development of girl choirs, plus the appointment of female directors of music – such as Sarah Baldock at Chichester and Katherine Dienes at Guildford – these are times of change in Britain’s cathedrals.
Anticipating possible harrumphs of dissent among the purists over the Lambs’ appointment, Lichfield precentor Canon Wealands Bell has explained that ‘I know that, despite its historic pedigree, some in the cathedral world remain unconvinced by the practice of appointing choir trainers and singers to the Number One job, but it is clearly the right thing to do here.’
Cathy Lamb has been assistant organist at Lichfield since 2007, while Ben Lamb comes to the Midlands following posts in Bournemouth and Salisbury. Whether they discuss Byrd, Tallis or Howells at the breakfast table has not yet been clarified.