Jonathan Lilley is an organist by profession, a general keyboard accompanist by vocation, and an occasional solo pianist for recreation.
He trained as an organist and church musician at the Royal Academy of Music, and while still a first-year was Organ Scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and passed the Fellowship diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He held Assistant Organist posts at Leeds Parish Church and then at Ely Cathedral, whilst being active as accompanist to local choirs and educational establishments in both cities. He is now Director of Music at Waltham Abbey Church, again whilst developing a freelance career.
At Ely Cathedral he was principal accompanist to the cathedral choir of boys and men, and integral to the training of the boy choristers and the running of the music department. King’s [School] Ely along with Ely Choral Society and Ely Consort kept him busy as piano and organ accompanist. At Ely he achieved his first concerti – Poulenc’s organ concerto with the City of London Sinfonia under Stephen Layton, broadcast from Ely Cathedral by BBC Radio 3, and Mozart’s A major piano concerto as part of a concert by Ely Choral Society. In 2013 he made his first forays into silent film accompaniment, presenting The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The General in the cathedral, to wide acclaim. He appeared as both organist and pianist on the Ely choir’s recordings and broadcasts, and in recital in the cathedral.
Jonathan attributes his musicianship to the many serendipitous, inspirational musical experiences which have occurred throughout his career, much more than to formal study at its outset. As an excellent sight-reader he has been in demand as an accompanist since school days, thus becoming closely acquainted with music ranging from chamber music and the staples of the violin and flute student’s repertoire, through the orchestral parts of oratorio and opera, to Cole Porter and Dixieland jazz. He professes no real specialism, instead relishing and being proud to embrace the eclecticism which in his view enhances the effectiveness of the church musician, the employability of the accompanist, and the job satisfaction of both.