New Year honour for well-known musician

Friday 9th January 2015 12:00 am
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A well-known musician has been hitting the high notes after receiving a BEM in the New Year's Honours List.

Director of music at St. Mary's Church, Tenby, for the last 40 years, Dr. John Harrison was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to music in the town.

Music has always been in John's blood as his parents Vida and Wilfred and sisters Miranda and Anna were all talented musicians too.

John was educated locally at St. Stephen's School and Greenhill School. His earliest music teachers included Kenneth Hewlings, Albert Bevan, Pauline Allen and Beti Adams. As a sixth former, John studied organ at St. David's Cathedral with Peter Boorman.

John went on to study music at Aberystwyth University and gained a B.Mus with first class honours and subsequently a PhD.

During the 1970s, John was assistant organist at Holy Trinity Church, Aberystwyth, taught for a time at the university and was conductor of the University College of Wales Choral Union from 1972-74.

He made his TV debut in 1969 on Songs of Praise, his Radio 3 debut in 1971 and has broadcast on numerous occasions.

As an organist, John has played at many venues in the UK and overseas.

Since returning to his native Tenby in 1974, John has led a busy life as conductor, organist, accompanist, teacher, composer and arranger.

From 2004-2008, he was musical director of The Griffon Choir. He currently plays the organ for Tenby Male Choir, as well as being one of their honorary vice-presidents.

In 2010, John received the Archbishop of Wales Award for church music, and in September, members and friends of St. Mary's celebrated John's 40th anniversary as organist and director of music at the church with a special service and presentation.

News of the accolade has 'astonished and thrilled' John who was quick to pay tribute to all the people he has worked with over the years.

"I have worked with some wonderful people and this wouldn't have happened without them," he said.

Added Rector, Canon Andrew Davies, who has been friends with John since they both studied music together at Aberystwyth University: "John's life has been music, and helping other musicians. He is so committed to serving the church through his music, and this is a most appropriate honour. It is tremendous for John and wonderful for St. Mary's and Tenby."

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