The Cathedral Organists
Organist & Master of the Choristers
Christopher Stokes is the Organist & Master of the Choristers of Manchester Cathedral. Prior to that he worked in London, having held posts in two of London’s leading churches: as Organist & Master of Music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and Director of Music at St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey. He was a pupil at the Royal Masonic School in Bushey, where his interest in music was first stimulated and nurtured, before becoming a student at Trinity College of Music.
As a conductor in London, he directed the professional choirs at St. Martin's and St. Margaret’s. He also founded The Baroque Soloists of St Martin-in-the-Fields, (a group of leading baroque players and singers in London). In Manchester he directs the Cathedral Choir, which, in addition to the essential Opus Dei, makes frequent television and radio broadcasts and tours regularly in Europe and the USA. The choir has recorded a number of CDs, which have received excellent reviews. In 1995 he founded Manchester Baroque, a group specialising in the performance of music of the 17th and 18th centuries. He has also conducted Manchester Camerata and the Northern Chamber Orchestra on many occasions.
Broadcasting has always been a central feature of Christopher’s life and he has over 3,000 broadcasts to his credit. He has conducted and played for many Songs of Praise for BBC1 and is a director and organist for Daily Service on BBC Radio 4.
As a soloist, Christopher has performed extensively both in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the USA. He has appeared as concerto soloist with many orchestras including the Manchester Camerata, the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Golden Age. He has performed widely in Germany and has made a live concert-recording of Handel’s great G minor organ concerto with the German Radio Orchestra in Leipzig’s Gewandhaus. This was followed by another concerto appearance, this time with the Halle Händel Festspiele Orchestra. His solo recordings of Elgar, Stanford and Howells’ organ music have received critical acclaim in the world’s press.
As a continuo player, Christopher has always been busy. He has performed, toured, broadcast and recorded with most of Britain's leading orchestras including the Hanover Band; the London Mozart Players, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Bach Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and the Northern Chamber Orchestra. He has also performed and recorded with the Salzburg Bach-Chor and the German Radio Choir. Christopher also works extensively as a piano accompanist.
Teaching young organists is a very important factor in Christopher’s work: whilst in London, he was senior professor of organ at Trinity College of Music and in 1994 he was invited to become Head of Organ Studies at Chetham’s School of Music. Students from both institutions have gone on to hold key positions in the musical world.
He has served as a Council Member of the Royal College of Organists and was the Artistic Director of the College’s Performer of the Year 2000 competition. He is also a diploma examiner for the College.
Geoffrey Woollatt began his musical career as a chorister at Southwell Minster. Subsequently he attended Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. In January 2007, Geoffrey was appointed as Junior Organ Scholar at Manchester Cathedral, a post which he held for eighteen months.
In September 2008, he became the Organ Scholar at Chester Cathedral. A year later, Geoffrey commenced his studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. At the same time he was appointed Assistant Organist at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, where he played regularly for the choir and was involved in broadcasts, recordings and many performances while he was there.
In September 2012, he returned to Chester Cathedral as Assistant Organist, and in March 2015, he moved to Manchester Cathedral as Sub-Organist where he accompanies the Cathedral Choir and directs the Cathedral Voluntary Choir.