I have had a profound love of the organ since my early teenage years, when, one Saturday afternoon, I was introduced to the instrument at the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Sutton, Surrey, by one of the assistant priests (a keen amateur organist and LRAM pianist). I was, at the time, a passionately keen Grade Six pianist, and there was a need for an organist to play for the 10 am Sunday Mass. I soon began working through the organ works of J.S.Bach, inspired by the recordings, borrowed from the local library, of Helmut Walcha, Lionel Rogg and others.

Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall

Whilst at the Ursuline Convent School, in Wimbledon, I had the amazing experience of practising on the magnificent organ at the Sacred Heart Church in Edge Hill. I studied piano, organ and composition at Trinity College of Music in London and, subsequently, studied the organ for a number of years with David Sanger whom, like many of today’s cathedral organists and recitalists who studied with him, I found to be utterly inspirational; he had a profound effect on my playing, enabling me to gain the Fellowship Diploma of the Royal College of Organists, and on my teaching.

Since those early days at Our Lady of the Rosary, I have held a number of parish church positions, both Roman Catholic and Anglican, including St Margaret’s, Putney, SS Peter & Paul RC Church in Mitcham, Stoke d’Abernon Parish Church (1975 Frobenius organ) and Ewell Parish Church (1889 ‘Father’ Willis organ). I have held the position of Organist at St Augustine’s Abbey, Chilworth, since August 2012. The Abbey church is remarkable for its serene beauty, its fine acoustic and its glorious setting in the Surrey countryside. The Lewis organ, installed in the church in 1915, has a lovely tone, is surprisingly versatile and is perfect for accompanying the monks’ Gregorian chant.

I give recitals occasionally, when they can be fitted in around my teaching commitments and my duties at Chilworth Abbey. I have given recitals at various churches in the local area, including Godalming Parish Church and Chilworth Abbey, and also in London, including St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, and Christ’s Chapel in Dulwich. I also gave an impromptu recital of Spanish Baroque music in Salamanca Cathedral, in Spain.

My repertoire encompasses Early English, French and Spanish Baroque, Sweelinck, Buxtehude and Bach, 19th and 20th century French composers from Franck and Widor to Messaien, plus British composers from Elgar and Howells to Giles Swayne. 

Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall

“Beautiful Abbey and moving Mass. The organist is very special and the calm and simplicity of the service in English and Latin was deeply spiritual.”  

First time visitor to the Abbey