JOHN SCOTT

Obituary
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  • "Our prayers are with you Lily, as you have two incredibly..."
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SCOTT--John Gavin.

John Scott, LVO, D.Mus honoris causa, June 18, 1956-- August 12, 2015. The Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, on behalf of the parish, announce the death of their beloved Organist and Director of Music (2004-- 2015). He is survived by his wife, Lily Ardalan Scott; his children, Emma and Alex, and their mother, Jane Lumsden; and his sisters Judith Schatunowski and Helen Church. Lily Scott is expecting their first child in September 2015. John was born in 1956 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK, where he became a Cathedral chorister. While still at school he gained the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists and won the major prizes. In 1974, he became Organ Scholar of St. John's College, Cambridge under Dr. George Guest. John made his debut in the 1977 Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, playing Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm. He was the youngest organist to appear as a soloist in the Proms. On leaving Cambridge, John was appointed Assistant Organist at London's two Anglican Cathedrals: St. Paul's and Southwark. During this time he won first prizes from Manchester and Leipzig J.S. Bach International Organ Competitions in 1978 and 1984 respectively. In 1985, John became Sub-Organist of St. Paul's Cathedral, and in 1990 he succeeded Dr. Christopher Dearnley as Organist and Director of Music. During his 26 years at St. Paul's, he was responsible for the nine weekly choral services, concerts, and for the music at a number of high profile events including the service to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 for which he wrote the anthem, Behold, O God Our Defender, based on Psalm 84. He also directed the music at the memorial service at St. Paul's after 9/11. John was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, a personal gift from the Queen, in recognition of his work at St. Paul's Cathedral. In the summer of 2004, John was appointed Organist and Director of Music at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, where he directed the Choir of Men and Boys until his death. John worked tirelessly with the boys of Saint Thomas Choir School, the only choral boarding school in North America. An exceptional choral trainer, John was monumental in shaping the lives of young choristers and generations of church musicians. His Missa Dies Resurrectionis has been performed each Easter at Saint Thomas since its premiere in 2011. John conducted the Choir of Men and Boys in numerous recordings including Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah and Faure's Requiem. In 2015, John and the Choir of Men and Boys began a major collaboration with Resonus Classics which recently produced a new recording of Motets by J.S. Bach. At Saint Paul's John played a complete cycle of the organ works of J.S. Bach in 2000 and followed this in subsequent years with the organ symphonies of Vierne and Widor, as well as the complete works of Franck and Buxtehude. At Saint Thomas, he performed complete cycles of the organ works of Buxtehude in 2007, Messiaen in 2008, and the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne in 2009. His most recent solo recital at Saint Thomas took place in June, 2015 with a program of works by J.S. Bach that was based on a recital by Mendelsohn at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig in 1840. John was equally renowned for inspiring church musicians to his impeccable standards. For the last several years, John has spearheaded Saint Thomas Church in one of its most ambitious projects to date: the building of a new pipe organ by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, IA. The new organ, which is expected to be completed in 2018, has already been named the Irene D. and William R. Miller Chancel Organ in honor of Dr. John Scott. He insisted that Bach's motto, Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone) be carved in the new organ case of the Miller-Scott Organ as a reminder of the importance of liturgical music. As an organist, John performed on five continents, premiered many new works written for him, and worked with various specialist ensembles. In recent years he performed recitals at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig; Notre Dame, Paris; Disney Hall, Los Angeles; Merton College, Oxford; and Royal Albert Hall, London. He once said "I envy other musicians who can take their instrument with them when they travel. For me, it's a new instrument each time". In addition to his work as a conductor and organist, John has published many choral compositions and arrangements and has jointly edited two compilations of liturgical music for the Church's year published by Oxford University Press. His numerous organ recordings include the sonatas of Elgar, organ music by William Mathias, Durufle and Mendelssohn, as well as two discs of Dupre. He also recorded the solo organ part in Janacek's Glagolitic Mass with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The funeral service will be at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; the date and time will be posted at saintthomaschurch.org. Donations may be made in John Scott's memory to the MillerScott Organ Fund. Please make checks payable to Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; 1 West 53rd Street; New York, NY 10019-5496. The Reverend Canon Carl F. Turner, Rector Kenneth F. Koen, Warden Kazie Metzger Harvey, Warden

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St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue
1 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
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Published in The New York Times on Aug. 15, 2015