New director of music

The congregation of Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton welcomed David Drinkell as director of music in July. He comes among us with his wife, Elspeth. The Cathedral has valued a high standard of music in the past and we are pleased that with David’s expertise and leadership it appears that  will continue.

David comes with a long history of accomplishments and experience. He was born in Colchester, Essex in England and had his first paid job as a church organist at twelve years of age! He was paid five shillings per week! Since then, he has earned his BA, FRCO, ADCM, ARCM and has been organist and choir master at many Cathedrals in England, Ireland and for the last ten years, at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, St. John’s, Newfoundland.

A Cathedral is a Cathedral, and it must be a leader in the diocese.

1610_drinkell_choir“A Cathedral is a Cathedral,” says David, “and it must be a leader in the diocese.”

However, that does not mean it must be too serious. He has been quoted to say, “Life is too short to be serious,” Indeed, choir rehearsals are peppered with anecdotes and funny stories about the composers and the music, keeping choristers amused.

“When you play a noisy beast like a church organ, you have to have a sense of humour.” He loves to bring to life all the various sounds the organ can produce.

David’s experience is extensive.


  • Colchester Royal Grammar School
  • Bristol University,
  • Homerton College, Cambridge, England

Church posts have included:

drinkell_keyboardDavid is known for frequent organ recitals. In Ireland, he played a different program in all 31 Cathedrals, all within one week! In St. John’s, the locals were treated to weekly recitals, totaling 200 consecutive performances. Fredericton audiences will be pleased to learn that he is hoping to continue that custom at Christ Church Cathedral, beginning this year with an Advent series, and continuing each Friday thereafter. He is also hoping that there will be enough interest among youngsters, to form a children’s choir.

His interests are varied and include choral and organ music, food, wine and restaurants and architecture, especially of old churches. He is extremely knowledgeable about many church organs, and regularly posts comments on organ sites by way of the internet with details about church organs.

Accompanying him is his talented wife, Elspeth, who is from the Orkney Isles in Scotland. She has already shown her versatility as a singer, helping in the soprano, alto and tenor sections of the choir, as needed – but not all at the same time! She is looking for employment as an administrator or secretary in the Fredericton area.

Since the position at the Christ Church Cathedral is only part-time, David is also checking out the need for accompanist, adjudicator positions in the Fredericton area.

We are hope David and Elspeth will enjoy being part of our Cathedral church family for a long time.

David’s short biography can be found on the Cathedral Clergy and Staff page. A new web site feature is “Music Monthly,” a listing of choral music planned for the month ahead.

Marilyn Lewell

Photos M. Lewell and G. Hall


8 thoughts on “New director of music

  1. We are so fortunate to have this talented and accomplished man at Christ Church Cathedral. I really enjoyed this article.

  2. My husband David & I are enjoying singing with David D. He is a truly a magnificent musician and challenges the choir weekly with beautiful new music. DD is well organized & rehearsals seem to fly by. He has a terrific sense of humour & I must admit we all laugh a lot. It is a definite bonus to have Elspeth joining us as well in the choir stalls. We feel fortunate to have them as part of our cathedral musical family.

  3. It is wonderful for the choir to have David as our director and organist. He is an excellent and musical teacher who encourages us to sing ever better! I have not seen as many people staying behind just to listen to the postlude after our Sunday services.
    Welcome David and Elspeth!

  4. I was a chorister at Belfast Cathedral back in the early 90s with David as my Choirmaster/Organist. He was a superb leader of our choir and I was lucky enough to sing under his tutelage for 3 or 4 years. You’d be hard pushed to meet a nicer man and I hope that he and Elspeth are having a wonderful time in Fredericton.

  5. As a former boy chorister under the direction of Capt. C.J. Brennan between the years of 1954 and 1958 at St Annes in Belfast I first came across David at a past choristers annual dinner where he’d been captured as after dinner speaker. A memorable evening followed. I was again fortunate to join David and Elspeth at a dinner in Belfast City Hall some years later where his only function was to consume an excellent meal. He will be a very sad loss to Fredericton and the community. Deepest condolences to Elspeth.

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