John Keys MA LRAM ARCM ARCO Hon. FGCM
John Keys was born and educated in Chester. On completion of his schooling, he was assistant organist at Chester Cathedral for 3 years, before becoming an organ scholar at New College, Oxford. There he was taught by Gillian Weir and Nicholas Danby.
At the organ of New College, Oxford
After graduating, he studied for 3 years at Geneva Conservatoire with Lionel Rogg, and won the 1er Prix de Virtuosité and the Prix Barblan. He was also Organist of Eglise St Jean and then Holy Trinity Church.
M. le Professeur Lionel Rogg and Mme Claudine Rogg
Having been appointed Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, Nottingham, in 1984, in the same year John won First Prize at the 4th Manchester International Organ Competition. As well as having created a flourishing musical tradition at St Mary’s, he is the University Organist at the University of Nottingham, and plays the organ extensively in Britain and abroad, primarily as a solo recitalist, but also as an accompanist and continuo player
John also teaches the organ, up to the highest levels, and acted as tutor for an Oundle / RCO “Get Ahead” day in Nottingham.
John Keys, James Parsons (Director of Oundle for Organists) and student at
St Mary's Church at the "Get Ahead" day on 29th January 2005.
John is shown below with Simon Williams, to whom John gave organ lessons throughout Simon's secondary education. Simon subsequently went on to become an organ scholar at Chelmsford Cathedral, and then an organ scholar, reading music, at Robinson College, Cambridge.
John Keys and Simon Williams
John was the President of the Nottingham & District Society of Organists from July 2005 to July 2007.
In association with the best-selling popular science writer Brian Clegg, John has produced numerous CDs containing hundreds of tracks of music for all church occasions, including organ accompaniments for hymns, voluntaries and Mass settings, as well as piano Worship Song accompaniments. These have received critical acclaim, and are all available from www.hymncds.com
Brian Clegg & John Keys, after a talk by Brian
In July/August 2006, John was a tutor at the Organ Summer School at St Andrews University. The other tutors were Herbert Richardson, Dr William Stevenson and Professor George McPhee, shown below.
In August 2006 and 2007 he was asked to take part in the final concert of the Gothenburg International Organ Academy.
"Artisten" Organ Hall, Gothenburg University
In 2009, John was nominated as an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. He is seen here with the Archbishop of Westminster, in a photograph taken by Professor John Morehen.
Guild of Church Musicians ceremony
John is one of the trustees for the Binns organ in the Albert Hall, Nottingham, and in April 2012 he was nominated as Vice Chair of the committee. Video clips of him playing a recital there can be found under the heading "John Keys organist" on www.YouTube.com
Binns organ, Albert Hall, Nottingham
For information about the organ and recitals in the Albert Hall, see the Binns web site at: www.binns.info
In 2014 an extract of John Keys' recording of "Abide with me" was used in a BBC Radio Berkshire programme on "How the Church responded to War", as part of the BBC "World War One at Home" series.
In 2015 some of his recordings were used in a short service at the end of a trip down the Thames by the ship Havengore, as part of the 50th anniversary commemorations of the death of Winston Churchill.
Since 2014, John has been represented by:
John was nominated Nottingham City Organist in 2016.
With the Mayor at a presentation in the Albert Hall, Nottingham
In 2016, Lionel Rogg, John's source of inspiration since his boyhood, wrote an organ piece, "Arborescence", especially for John's 60 birthday. After a presentation at St Mary's, Nottingham, the piece was played by Andrew Abbott, the organist of the church.
Lionel Rogg presents "Arborescence" to John Keys at St Mary's, Nottingham