Jonathan Lane – the master craftsman restoring the pipe organ in St George’s Cathedral, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Profile of man

Jonathan Lane is the master craftsman charged with the challenging task of restoring the historic pipe organ in St George’s Cathedral, Freetown, Sierrra Leone.

Early years

He was born in Surrey and lived in Surrey, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire in his childhood.

From the age of two he was fascinated with the pipe organ, playing along on the pew at church. At age nine he joined the local church choir at St Nicholas, Thames Ditton, one of the best all male church choirs in Surrey, singing as a treble then tenor. Jonathan’s first studies in the organ were in his teens, later studying with prestigious teachers in London and Birmingham.

His studies

After studying for a degree in Communications Engineering, Jonathan went on to study for a music degree at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, and later studied for a master’s degree at the University of Hull. In addition, Jonathan studied for the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists attaining the Associate Diploma (A.R.C.O.), Choral Directing Diploma (Ch.D.) and Organ Teaching Diploma (Dip.TCR) becoming only the second person to take and pass this exam.

A passion for music

While a tenor at St. Nicholas, Jonathan became assistant organist and then went on to be Organist at All Saints, Wandsworth; Organist and Director of Music at St. Andrew’s, Rugby, where he recorded an acclaimed CD with the parish choir; Organist and Master of the Choristers at Londonderry Cathedral; Organist and Director of Music at St Thomas-on-the Bourne, Farnham.

In 2001 Jonathan formed the choral group Ex-Andreas, which regularly visited Cathedrals in England until 2012 and less frequently since. During this time Jonathan has directed more than 50 services at Hereford Cathedral, the Cathedral becoming a place of pilgrimage for him.

Jonathan emigrated to France in 2014 and since 2017 has been Organiste Titulaire at Collégiale Saint-Cerneuf de Billom, where he plays the organ most Sundays.

Whilst at school Jonathan began his fascination with the workings of the pipe organ and was given the two volumes of George Ashdown Audesley’s ‘The Art of Organ Building’ for his 12th birthday by his parents. These volumes are still an almost daily point of reference. The fascination with the pipe organ’s workings led him to explore work with organ builders and gain some understanding of the workings ‘hands on’ however his studies in Communications and Music led him to playing the organ, directing choirs, teaching the organ, piano and singing, and writing and editing music for the next several decades.

Becoming an organ builder

In 2004, after finishing work in Northern Ireland, Jonathan worked with an organ builder before starting his own company in 2006. In 2010 the company was incorporated and trades today as Jonathan Lane & Associates Ltd. In 2022 Jonathan formed an additional company in, Jonathan Lane, Facteur d’Orgues, France to cope with the impossibility of the UK company trading in the EU after Brexit. He hopes to form an organ building company in Freetown to service the West African churches.

Jonathan’s passion for music, the organ, and teaching continues to this day, and part of the work in Freetown has enabled him to educate future organ builders and musicians in Sierra Leone.

To donate to St George’s pipe organ restoration fund

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