Alexander Binns is an organist, conductor, accompanist and teacher based in London, the Midlands and Yorkshire, UK, and was described by the Organ Magazine as ‘one of our finest young players’. In 2019 he took up the position of Director of Music at Derby Cathedral and is the youngest Cathedral Director of Music in England. At the Cathedral he is responsible for the operation of the flourishing Music Department and for directing the Cathedral Choir for five to six choral services each week as well as for concerts, broadcasts, recordings and tours. Since his arrival, he has established a professional ‘back row’ of Lay Clerks and launched a Music and Choral Outreach project, which takes the Cathedral’s tradition of musical excellence into the community. Particular highlights of his work in Derby have been directing the music for the installation of the Right Reverend Libby Lane as eighth Bishop of Derby and the Friends of Cathedral Music National Gathering. Outside of the Cathedral Alexander is Musical Director of the Derventio Choir in Allestree, is Area Team Leader of RSCM Derbyshire and is the Vice Chair of the Derby and District Organists’ Association.
Prior to moving to Derby Alexander was Assistant Director of Music at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, where he was the principal organist for Cathedral services, director of the St Edmundsbury Singers and organiser of the lunchtime concert series. Alexander premiered the new work Before Action by David Fawcett (winner of the 2018 Composition Competition) with James Thomas and St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir for the Suffolk Commemoration of Armistice and can be heard on St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir’s latest CD, ‘Make we Merry’, a recording of Christmas music on the Priory label. Whilst at St Edmundsbury Alexander also held the positions of Musical Director of the Hedingham Singers and Accompanist of Phoenix Singers and was Secretary to RSCM Suffolk and a council member of the Suffolk Organists’ Association.
Alexander holds BMus(Hons) and MA degrees from the Royal Academy of Music, from where he graduated with distinction in July 2015. At the Academy he studied the organ with Susan Landale and David Titterington, improvisation with Gerard Brooks, conducting with Paul Brough, choral conducting with Patrick Russill, harmonium with Anne Page, piano with Michael Young and continuo with Terence Charlston. Whilst studying at the Academy he performed in masterclasses under Olivier Latry, Bine Bryndorf, Eric Lebrun, Jon Laukvik, Loïc Mallié, Lionel Rogg, David Ponsford, Jean-Baptiste Dupont and Naomi Matsui, and attended study trips to Paris, Hamburg and Bordeaux. Alexander received numerous prizes from his studies including the Eric Thiman Prize, the Gwen and Eric Windo Organ Award, the Stephen Bicknell Award, the Paton Award and the Joyce Rhoda Danzelman Award, and performed in many high profile projects including a performance of Britten’s War Requiem with the Academy Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain under the direction of Marin Alsop at the Royal Festival Hall on Remembrance Sunday 2014, two commercial recordings on the harmonium with the Academy Soloists Ensemble under the direction of Trevor Pinnock, the first performance of ‘Compline’ from ‘The Hours’ by Diana Burrell, a solo performance in the Academy’s celebrated Bach Cantata Series, and a performance in the inaugural recital of the Academy’s new Kuhn organ in the Duke’s Hall. Alexander also holds the Associateship diploma from the Royal College of Organists. In 2014 Alexander won a grant from the Eric Thompson Trust to study the works of Messiaen, Alain and Duruflé with Susan Landale at the Cathédrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides in Paris, which concluded with a recital at St Lawrence Jewry in London in October 2015.
Alongside his studies at the Academy, Alexander held the position of Organ Scholar at Southwark Cathedral, where he accompanied the Cathedral Choir in daily services and concerts, and regularly directed them for services. At Southwark Alexander played for many high profile events including the London Service of Celebration for the 400th Anniversary of the Death of William Shakespeare, the Celebratory Evensong for the 60th Anniversary of the Friends of Cathedral Music, the Game of Thrones Opening Gala as part of Advertising Week UK, and toured with the Cathedral Choir to Iceland and Poland. Alexander also held the positions of Accompanist and Acting Music Director of East London Chorus, Accompanist of Barnet Choral Society and the Vivace Choir, Acting Organist and Director of Music at St Mary’s Church Merton Park, and was Piano Tutor at St Marylebone School for five years. During his time in London he also held the Organ Scholarships at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and St Marylebone Parish Church, where he accompanied and conducted two of London’s finest professional choirs. During his gap year, he held the Organ Scholarship at St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, where he regularly accompanied and conducted the world famous Chapel Choir and played for many members of the British Royal Family, including at the celebrated Garter Day Service.
Alexander grew up in Yorkshire where he started his musical education as a chorister at Halifax Parish Church, learning the organ with Philip Tordoff and the piano with Margaret Whiteley. He held the Organ Scholarships at Halifax and Leeds Parish Churches, and the positions of Organist at St Luke’s Church Norland, Assistant Organist at All Saints Church Elland and Conductor of the Halifax Chamber Choir. He was educated at the North Halifax Grammar School, where he accompanied many of the school’s choirs on a daily basis under the direction of Graham Ellin. His previous organ teachers include Daniel Moult, Simon Lindley, David Houlder and Darius Battiwalla. Other early musical adventures include conducting and organising a performance of Stainer’s The Crucifixion with a ‘come and sing’ choir of around one hundred singers as part of Holy Week 2008 at Halifax Parish Church, a Future Heroes award from Northern Orchestral Entreprises Limited, and a sponsored play of eight hours at St Mary’s Church Luddenden to raise money for the refurbishment of their organ.
Alexander has performed at many prestigious venues both in the UK and abroad including Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, the cathedrals of Southwark, St Edmundsbury, Derby, Canterbury, Wells, Gloucester, Salisbury, Chichester, Norwich, Coventry, St Albans, Chester, Peterborough, Liverpool, Manchester, Rochester, Bradford and Wakefield, the Ritz Hotel, the Chapel Royal at St James’ Palace, Westminster Central Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St John’s Smith Square, Snape Maltings, Pembroke College Cambridge, St Catharine’s College Cambridge, Queen’s College Cambridge, Reading Town Hall, Rochdale Town Hall, Christchurch Priory, St Mary Redcliffe, Ealing Abbey, Concertgebouw Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Hallgrímskirkja (Iceland), Skalholt Cathedral (Iceland), Bayeux Cathedral (France), Abbaye aux Dames à Caen (France), Dominican Church Kraków (Poland), St Peter and St Paul Church Kraków (Poland), Armagh Cathedral (Northern Ireland), Nuovo Teatro Communale Bolzano (Italy), Stadtstheatre Darmstadt (Germany), Neresheim Abbey (Germany), Palazzo dei Congressi Stresa (Italy) and Auditorium Salla dei Piazza Rimini (Italy). Performances at festivals include the Cambridge Summer Music Festival, Totally Thames Festival (in which he premiered a work by Lloyd Coleman), Halifax Festival, Bury St Edmunds Festival, Melbourne Festival, Proms at St Jude’s, Bloomsbury Organ Day, Halifax Minster Festival and St Albans International Organ Festival. Alexander has perfromed on RTE Television (Ireland), BBC Radio Derby and BBC Radio Suffolk.
As an orchestral player, Alexander has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, has toured Europe with the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda, and has played continuo with the Wren Players, Monteverdi String Band, Chameleon Arts Orchestra, Musica Donum Dei and the Suffolk Handel Players, and as an orchestral conductor, he has directed the Heart of England Orchestra. He has premiered works by Diana Burrell, Simon Lindley, Alison Willis, David Fawcett, Zoltán Gárdonyi and Lloyd Coleman, and has performed as a soloist on the piano in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor with the Misbourne Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 Alexander co-founded the Apollon Violin and Organ Duo with violinist Dora Chatzigeorgiou, a new duo which explores the repertoire for this seldom heard combination. In October 2016 Alexander performed a choreographed version of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb at Snape Maltings with Aldeburgh Voices and the Richard Alston Dance Company as part of a Britten Weekend. As a composer, Alexander’s works have been performed in St Edmundsbury Cathedral by the St Edmundsbury Singers.
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