Biographical details about the senior members of our Music Department

Peter Wright - Cathedral Organist / Director of Music

Peter Wright was born in Hertfordshire. He was educated at Highgate School and then spent two years as Organ Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music, studying with Richard Popplewell (Organ) and Angus Morrison (Piano) and gaining various prizes and diplomas. In 1973 he went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as Organ Scholar where he continued his organ studies with Dame Gillian Weir and with Flor Peeters in Belgium.

Following this Peter Wright became Sub-Organist at Guildford Cathedral and, since 1989, has been Organist and Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral. In March of 2014 the Bishop of Southwark awarded him an Honorary Lay Canonry to mark his 25 years in the post. Under his direction, the Choir has recorded many CDs and undertaken three tours to the USA and several in Europe.  They have sung at the BBC Proms andbroadcast regularly on television and radio.

Peter is much in demand as an organ recitalist and choral conductor, both here and abroad, and enjoys a wide and varied repertoire. In addition, he plays regularly with the country’s leading orchestras, both solo and continuo and has performed widely in Europe, Japan, South Africa, USA, Bermuda, Australia and New Zealand. 

In May 2011 Peter Wright was awarded the prestigious FRSCM, in recognition of his work at Southwark and for church music in general, and he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. Now a Vice-President of the Royal College of Organists, Peter Wright became a member of the Council in 1990 and was Chief Examiner from 1997 before becoming President (2005-2008). 

Stephen Disley - Assistant Organist / Director of the Girls' Choir

Stephen Disley won a joint Foundation Scholarship to the Royal College of Music and London's Temple Church.

As a recitalist and accompanist, Stephen appears frequently at the Royal Albert Hall, and has performed and broadcast with ensembles such as the Budapest Radio Choir and the BBC Singers including a recording of “Choir Book for The Queen”, conducted by Stephen Cleobury. Other performances include Janacek's Glagolitic Mass in the Montepulciano Festival, Italy, and Regular Organ Galas with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has performed with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alessandro d’Agostini, also performing as a soloist in Warsaw, Cologne, and at the Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit.

Stephen is Assistant Organist at Southwark Cathedral and founding Director of its Girls’ Choir. 

He has also performed and recorded premieres of music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Bingham, Bob Chilcott, Gabriel Jackson, Tarick O’Regan and others. Stephen is also involved with the JAM (John Armitage Memorial) Trust and is organist to the City of London School.

Further details can be obtained from his website here

Emily Elias - Director of the Merbecke Choir

Emily was Organ Scholar at St Peter’s College, Oxford where she read music, sang and directed choirs.

Shortly after graduation, she moved to Paris where she pursued a career as a singer, was Assistant Conductor of the Paris Choral Society and took the boys at the Maîtrise of St Louis en Ile.

As a singer she has worked with and learnt much from many brilliant conductors and hope that the Merbecke Choir will feel the benefit of their collective wisdom.

Emily now lives in South London with her husband and three children and combines performing with singing teaching and choir directing in several secondary schools and, of course, directing the wonderful Merbecke Choir.

Vacant - Harry Coles Organ Scholar

The Harry Coles Organ Scholarship was founded in the year 2000 and later endowed following the death of Harry Coles, a former chorister and organ scholar at the Cathedral who died in 2006. Organ scholars are appointed for one or two years in their role and many past scholars have gone on to become Organists and Directors of Music at other Cathedrals and Chapels.

Merbecke Choir (c) Southwark Cathedral