Who plays the organ at Westminster Abbey?

As sub-organist at Westminster Abbey, Peter Holder is the principal organist for the Abbey’s daily services and at state occasions. As such, he is likely to be performing on the Westminster Abbey organ at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. He also accompanies the renowned Westminster Abbey Choir in its concerts, recordings and broadcasts.


Holder is also the principal deputy conductor of the choir, supporting the organist and master of the choristers James O’Donnell in training the Abbey choristers.

How long has Peter Holder been at Westminster Abbey?

Holder has been in the post of sub-organist at the Abbey since 2017.

What was his career path before then?

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Holder had a previous stint at Westminster Abbey, serving as organ scholar from 2012 to 2014. He then spent three years as sub-organist of St Paul’s Cathedral from 2014, before making the move west in 2017.

While at St Paul's, Holder played an important role in developing the profile of organ performance there. His work included two Grand Organ Galas, at which he performed organ concerti by Handel and Poulenc.

Where else has Peter Holder performed?

Holder has performed organ recitals in cathedrals and concert halls around the globe. In 2019, Holder made his BBC Proms solo debut at the 2019 First Night of the Proms performing Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. BBC Music reporter Mark Savage reported that '… Holder deservedly received an ovation after untangling the labyrinthine solo'.

The organist also has a recording to his name. His solo recording Bach ist der Vater, wir sind die Buben ('Bach is the father, we are the children'), played on the 1797 organ at Neresheim Abbey in southern Germany, has been well reviewed. He also regularly features on BBC radio and television broadcasts.


Does Peter Holder have time for anything else?

He certainly does! Holder also teaches organ at his alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music, his alma mater. In 2016, meanwhile, he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.