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Acclaimed Choir Director, Organist and Composer Appointed Director of Music at Saint Paul’s Parish

James Kennerley to Lead Renowned Harvard Square-Based Boys Choir

CAMBRIDGE, MA, JULY 1, 2019 – SAINT PAUL’S PARISH AND SAINT PAUL’S CHOIR SCHOOL (SPCS) in Harvard Square has announced the appointment of Mr. James Kennerley as Director of Music, effective September 2019.

An internationally known organist, vocalist and music director, Mr. Kennerley is rooted in the English choir school tradition, having sung as a chorister under Graham Elliott and Barry Rose at Chelmsford Cathedral. He later served as Organ Scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge, and at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Most recently he served as Music Director at three influential Episcopal churches in the United States. Additionally, he has provided professional leadership as Dean of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and as Director of the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus.

Mr. Kennerley’s appointment concludes a rigorous search process that considered more than 25 applicants from around the world. An 11-person Search Committee—composed of respected musicians, educators, parishioners, Choir School parents, and parish and school staff—participated in reviewing candidates and in selecting finalists.

“We were looking for a candidate of deep faith and fine character, all of which Mr. Kennerley brings to this position,” said Rev. William T. Kelly, Pastor of St. Paul’s Parish. “He was unanimously forwarded as the top choice. This assessment was fully in line with the rehearsal feedback of the Men’s Choir and the Choristers as well.”

SPCS Advisory Board Chair Paul Haley credited the search committee for yielding “such a terrific candidate.” “I want to thank the Search Committee for its outstanding service. Each committee member brought unique perspective and genuine commitment to ensure that St. Paul’s would have an excellent music program,” he said.

Search Committee member Richard J. Clark, Boston’s Archdiocesan and Holy Cross Cathedral Music Director, commented, “James Kennerley brings to St. Paul’s exceptional gifts as an educator, conductor, and performer. With his family’s return to New England, I am thrilled to have such a high standard of excellence in the Archdiocese of Boston.”

James Kennerley has frequently given solo organ concerts throughout the U.S. and Europe. As a composer, he has enjoyed a particularly fruitful period in the last few years. His setting of Adam lay ybounden sold hundreds of copies internationally since its first performance in 2016. His hymn arrangements for choir, brass, and organ have been performed in the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom, and his upper voices Evening Canticles, composed in 2013 for the Choir of Ely Cathedral, are now in the repertory of choirs in the U.K.

“Having been raised in the English Cathedral Choir tradition, I know firsthand how transformative a boy chorister education can be,” said Kennerley. “There’s nothing like it, and the tradition at Saint Paul’s Choir School is justly renowned. I’m looking forward to working with Father Kelly, Dr. Haferd, and the school and church communities in continuing Theodore Marier’s founding vision and John Robinson’s superlative work over the past decade to make Saint Paul’s an extraordinary educational, religious, and musical experience for boys throughout Greater Boston. My wife, Emily, and our two-week-old son, Noah, are excited to make the move from New York to Boston in the coming months.”

Dr. Thomas Haferd, Head of Saint Paul’s Choir School, remarked, “James worked magic with the boys during their rehearsal. Within moments he had moved the boys to full engagement and elevated their voices to their fullest potential. I was truly impressed in our personal interview and have great expectations for our collaboration—and for our school.”


St. Paul’s Parish was founded in 1875 and has continued to be a center of Catholic life in Harvard Square and beyond. Along with being the home of the Harvard Catholic Center and St. Paul’s Choir School, St. Paul’s parishioners participate in a place where intellectual, liturgical, spiritual and pastoral care outreach define its life.


Founded in 1963, Saint Paul’s Choir School (SPCS) prepares boys in grades 3-8 to succeed in the strongest secondary schools, become confident and virtuous leaders, and grow as compassionate, caring adults. Embracing the great cathedral school tradition, SPCS unites a classical academic and musical curriculum with the Catholic moral tradition. Within this community of faith, friendship and high expectations, students build the habits of mind and heart to rise to all of life’s demands and thrive in a world characterized by constant change. At SPCS, classes are small and motivation is high among both students and teachers, making for a focused, energetic, and creative classroom environment. As a school for boys, we share an appreciation for the intensity and complexity of boyhood, and we celebrate and value everything it means to be a boy. This unique educational experience takes place in the heart of Harvard Square, one of the world’s great centers of learning, ideas, and diversity.



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