Julie Ainscough was born in Clapham, London, and brought up in Sutton, Surrey. She was educated at the Ursuline Convent School in Wimbledon and went on to study at Trinity College of Music (in its former home in Mandeville Place, just off Wigmore Street). Whilst there, she studied piano, organ and composition, gaining the Licentiate diploma in piano teaching, the Graduate diploma (with 1st Class Honours) and the Fellowship diploma in composition. She was also awarded the College’s John Halford Composition Prize and the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for composition.

Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall
Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall

Julie then embarked on a ‘portfolio’ career as an instrumental teacher, accompanist and church organist. She was the accompanist of the New Westminster Chorus under its founder-conductor, Colin Mawby (formerly Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral), Organist and Choirmaster at St Margaret’s Church, Putney, and visiting piano teacher at the Francis Holland School, Regents Park (a post she held for nearly twelve years), whilst building up an extensive private practice, teaching piano and organ.

Julie gained the Royal College of Organists’ Associate diploma in her mid-20’s, and then undertook study at Goldsmiths’ College (University of London) for a Master’s degree in composition, whilst pursuing her other professional activities. She then studied the organ, for a number of years, with David Sanger, whom she found to be utterly inspirational, and who influenced her greatly, both as a teacher and performer, enabling her to gain the Royal College of Organists’ Fellowship diploma.

Some years later, Julie undertook Doctoral study in music composition at the University of Surrey, with Sebastian Forbes as her supervisor, winning the University’s David Lovett Composition Prize in 2005, and graduating in 2012.

Julie is presently Organist at St Augustine’s (Benedictine) Abbey, Chilworth, having been appointed shortly after gaining her Doctorate in 2012, and is Visiting Music Teacher (of organ and piano) at Hampton School, a post she has held since 1994. She is also Visiting Piano Teacher at Parkside School, Stoke D’Abernon, having been appointed in February 2022. A number of her organ pupils have gained prestigious organ scholarships including New College, Exeter, Balliol, Brasenose and University College in Oxford, plus Jesus and Magdalene in Cambridge. Some achieved the Royal College of Organists’ Associate diploma whilst still at school.

Julie is a founder member of the Society of Women Organists and was awarded their Commissioned Composer’s Prize in 2021. This resulted in a commission from Stainer & Bell to contribute a piece (‘Ubi Caritas’) to an anthology of pieces for organ, ‘Gregoriana’, by contemporary women composers, based on plainchant melodies.

Although she has undertaken a range of musical activities in the past, encompassing choral conducting, training church choirs and harpsichord performance, Julie is now keen to focus on organ playing, particularly her work at Chilworth Abbey, instrumental teaching and composition.

Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall

“Dr Julie Ainscough…..who, for some months now, has supported and enhanced our Sunday Eucharist by accompanying the monks’ plainchant with great care, sensitivity and understanding.”  

Abbot Paulinus Greenwood OSB, 2012