Daniel Cook: Master of Choristers and Organist

Daniel Cook
Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook has been Master of the Chorister and Organist of Durham Cathedral since September 2017 and is recognised internationally as a liturgical and concert organist of the highest order. In addition, he is Artistic Director of Mousai, Curator of JAM on the Marsh, Musical Director of Durham University Choral Society, and maintains a busy schedule of recitals, concerts and recordings, both as performer and producer, as well as being in demand as a conductor, teacher and singer.

Prior to this Daniel spent four years as sub-organist of Westminster Abbey where he was the principal organist to the Abbey Choir and Assistant Director of Music to James O'Donnell. He accompanied the Abbey Choir for all major services, performed with them in concerts and on tours in Europe and the USA, as well as appearing in their famous series of recordings for Hyperion Records. He also performed with the Abbey Choir in several concerts in London, notably in Buckingham Palace and at the Royal Albert Hall, and was the organist for all of the broadcast services and concerts between 2013 and 2017.

Before moving to the Abbey, Daniel was Organist and Master of the Choristers of St Davids Cathedral and Artistic Director of the St Davids Cathedral Festival, where he was responsible for the maintenance and development of the cathedral’s musical ministry. Under his direction the Cathedral Choir made several broadcasts and recordings for BBC Radio and Television, toured in Italy and performed with the BBC singers in the City of London Festival. Before moving to St Davids, Daniel spent six years as Assistant Director of Music of Salisbury Cathedral where he was the principal organist. He has worked widely as a choral conductor and has been Music Director of the Dyfed Choir, the Farrant Singers, St Davids Cathedral Festival Chorus and the Grange Choral Society and Orchestra, with whom he directed many major choral works including Bach: Christmas Oratorio, Dyson: Canterbury Pilgrims, Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Handel: Messiah and Verdi: Requiem.

Daniel received his early musical education at Durham Cathedral with Keith Wright. Following a year as Organ Scholar at Worcester Cathedral, he moved to London to take up a place at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Nicolas Kynaston, James O'Donnell and Patrick Russill and participated in master classes with many of the world’s leading organists including Marie-Claire Alain, Lionel Rogg and Jon Laukvik. While at the Academy, he worked as Organ Scholar at Southwark Cathedral and Westminster Abbey before graduating with first-class honours in July, 2003. He was subsequently Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey from 2003 until 2005.

Daniel has twice been a finalist in the St Albans International Organ Competition. As a recitalist, he has played across the UK, Europe and Australia with performances in most of the cathedrals in Britain, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, and in the Grand Organ Festival at Westminster Cathedral. Increasingly in demand as an ensemble performer, recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the City of London Festival, BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the St Davids Cathedral Festival, Onyx Brass in The Hythe Festival and The London Mozart Players in JAM on the Marsh. His work as an accompanist has taken him all over the world and he regularly works with many of the distinguished vocal ensembles and choral groups in the UK such as the BBC Singers, both as a conductor and organist. He has made several solo organ recordings for Priory Records and is one of their most recorded organists. Other projects have included a performance of the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in six recitals to celebrate the centenary of the composer’s birth, and CD recordings of the complete organ music of Charles Stanford, Herbert Brewer, Herbert Sumsion, George Dyson, Walter Alcock and William Harris. A solo DVD from Westminster Abbey will be released in 2018.

In recent years Daniel has developed a strong commitment to new music, particularly through his work as conductor, organist and panel member for the John Armitage Memorial Trust (JAM). He regularly collaborates with leading contemporary composers and has participated in first performances of works by Judith Bingham, Neil Cox, Adam Gorb, Robin Holloway, Gabriel Jackson, Matthew Martin, Paul Mealor, Philip Moore, Tarik O'Regan, Paul Patterson, Julian Philips, Giles Swayne, Judith Weir, James Whitbourn and Jeremy Woodside. In 2009 he was soloist for a collaborative CD release of contemporary music jointly promoted by JAM and Choir and Organ magazine.

In 2013 Daniel was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), an award offered to past students of the Academy who have distinguished themselves in the music profession and made a significant contribution to it in their particular field.

Joseph Beech: Sub-Organist

Joseph Beech
Joseph Beech

Joseph took up the post of Sub-Organist of Durham Cathedral in September 2019.

As Sub-Organist, Joseph is the principal accompanist to the Cathedral Choir, playing the organ for daily services in addition to the choir's schedule of broadcasts, concerts, recordings and tours. He also assists the Master of the Choristers in his work conducting the choir, and recruiting and training the choristers.

Prior to his appointment at Durham, Joseph was Assistant Master of the Music at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, where he accompanied the Cathedral Choir in its round of daily services, on a Delphian recording of the choral works of Kenneth Leighton, and on a number of continental tours. He also conducted the choir live on BBC Radio 3. He continues to serve as Vice-President of the Edinburgh Society of Organists.

Born in Grantham, Joseph held the Organ Scholarship at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. As a prizewinning student of David Titterington, Joseph performed in London's major venues and worked under conductors Marin Alsop, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Trevor Pinnock. Concurrent with his Academy studies, Joseph successively held organ scholarships at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace; the London Oratory; and St Paul's Cathedral. He graduated with a first-class degree in 2017, also being presented one of the Academy's coveted Regency Awards for 'notable achievement'. 

Aside from his work at the Cathedral, Joseph maintains an active performance schedule, with recent and forthcoming concerts across the UK and in Germany, and also enjoys dedicating time to organ teaching.

Former organists of Durham Cathedral

Masters of the Choristers (and ipso facto organists)

1535 John Brimley
1576 William Browne
1588 Robert Masterman
1589 William Smith
1599 William Browne
1608 Edward Smith
1612 Francis Dodson
1613 Richard Hutchinson

Masters of the Choristers and organists

1661 John Foster
1677 Alexander Shaw (organist only)
1681 William Greggs
1711 James Heseltine
1763 Thomas Ebdon
1811 Charles Clarke
1814 William Henshaw
1862 Philip Armes
1907 Arnold Culley
1933 John Dykes Bower
1936 Conrad Eden
1974 Richard Lloyd
1985 James Lancelot
2017 Daniel Cook


1904 William Ellis
1919 Cyril Maude
1968 Bruce Cash
1973 Alan Thurlow
1980 David Hill
1982 Ian Shaw
1991 Keith Wright
2011 Francesca Massey
2019 Joseph Beech

Assistant organists

2009 Oliver Brett
2012 David Ratnanayagam
2016 Jason Löwe

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