The Organist: Katherine Dienes

Katherine Dienes-Williams

Photograph of Katherine Dienes-Williams

Organist & Master of the Choristers


01483 547866

Guildford Cathedral

Katherine Dienes-Williams, MA, BMus, FRCO, Hon ARSCM, Hon GCM was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral in January 2008 following six years as Director of Music at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick. She was the first-ever female member to be elected to the Cathedral Organists' Association, and on her appointment to Guildford, became the first ever woman to hold such a post in the Church of England.

Katherine was born and educated in Wellington, New Zealand and studied for a BA in Modern Languages and a BMus at Victoria University, Wellington. Katherine was Organ Scholar at Wellington Cathedral from 1988 to 1991 when she was appointed Assistant Organist there.

She is active as a composer, and one of her compositions was performed in the presence of the Queen in Auckland, New Zealand in 1990. Treble Clef Music Press publishes much of her treble voice repertoire in the United States. Other choral compositions, such as her setting of ‘Jesu dulcis memoria', have been performed widely both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Recent commissions have included a Christmas carol ‘Nativity' commissioned by ‘Choros', a work for violoncello and piano for the Warwick Festival 2003, and a baptismal anthem for SATB entitled ‘Malachy' for Bryan Sharpe. On 7 May 2006, ‘Hannah's Song', a major work for women's chorus and chamber orchestra, was premiered in Washington DC. Future projects include three unaccompanied choral works for "Anon" - a New Zealand chamber choir. Her composition ‘Ave verum', performed recently in Exeter College, Oxford by the New Zealand Graduate Choir, was described by one reviewer as follows: "But most moving of all was an Ave Verum Corpus from Katherine Dienes, now music director at St Mary's, Warwick."

Katherine has won several awards for her organ playing, including the prestigious New Zealand Gillian Weir Waitangi Scholarship. Katherine came to England in 1991 to take up the post of Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Organist at Winchester College. She is a sometime guest tutor for the Royal College of Organists and is regularly asked to be a guest workshop leader for the Royal School of Church Music both in the UK and the USA.

During the past sixteen years, Katherine has given several organ recitals in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, U.S.A., Bermuda, the Netherlands, Australia and Singapore. She has performed as organ soloist with both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hallé.

Katherine has studied choral training with David Hill, Chorusmaster to the Bach Choir in London and Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, and Patrick Russill at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she took part in the Church Music Studies Course. She holds a Master of Arts in Music and Liturgy from Leeds University.

Other interests include languages (her BA is in French and German), travel, reading and swimming. She is a Knight of the Grand Order of Vitéz and a Knight of the Order of St. Ladislau (Hungary).

Katherine is married to Patrick Williams, Librarian to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. Katherine and Patrick have a daughter, Hannah.