Andrew Shenton

Associate Professor of Music, James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music
(617) 353-3057
B.M. London University
M.M. Yale University
A.M. Harvard University
Ph.D. Harvard University

Certificates and diplomas

Certificate, Yale University Institute of Sacred Music
FRCO (Fellow of the Royal College of Organists)
CHM (Royal College of Organists’ Choir-training diploma)
Certificate of Advanced Study, Royal College of Music
Dip RCM (Diploma of the Royal College of Music)
LRAM (Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music)
ARCM (Associate of the Royal College of Music)
ARCO (Associate of the Royal College of Organists)

Andrew Shenton was born in England. His first professional music training was at The Royal College of Music in London, where he studied under a scholarship from The Royal College of Organists. While at the RCM he read for a BMus degree at London University and was an organ scholar at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Professor Shenton moved to the US to study for a Master’s degree at the Institute for Sacred Music, Worship and the Arts at Yale University and then for a PhD in musicology at Harvard University. As a student at the ISM, he prepared for a ministry involved with the arts (with music as a primary focus), as he is interested in all aspects of spirituality and the arts. This is reflected in his Master’s thesis, which concerns the renaissance of sacred art in post-war Britain, and in his doctoral dissertation, which is a musico-linguistic study of the twentieth-century French mystic composer Olivier Messiaen.

Professor Shenton has a Master’s degree in organ performance from Yale, and holds the Fellowship diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He has given recitals in such venues as King’s College, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (New York debut), and Washington National Cathedral. He has toured extensively in Europe and the US as a conductor, recitalist and clinician, and his two solo organ recordings have received international acclaim. In addition to diplomas in both piano and organ, Professor Shenton holds the Choir Training diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He is the Artistic Director of The Boston Choral Ensemble [insert link to:], one of the areas leading choral groups.

Professor Shenton has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards including a Harvard Merit Fellowship, Harvard’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, a Yale AlumniVentures Award and a Junior Research Fellowship from the BU Humanities Foundation. In 2012/13 he will be a Religion Fellow as part of a venture sponsored by The Boston University School of Theology and the Institute on Religion, Culture & World Affairs (CURA). Throughout his studies he has been particularly concerned with issues of historically informed performance practice. In addition, he has made an extensive study of voice production and vocal technique, and frequently acts as a repetiteur, coach and accompanist for singers. He has pioneered contemporary music in a variety of styles and has given more than fifty premieres by composers such as Geoffrey Burgon, Joe Utterback, John Tavener and Judith Weir.

Professor Shenton’s first monograph Olivier Messiaen’s System of Signs: Notes Towards Understanding His Music (Ashgate, 2008) has received critical and popular acclaim and was awarded the Miller Book Award. Professor Shenton has also written numerous articles, including most recently essays for collections on Messiaen published by both Ashgate and Cambridge University Press. He is editor of the collection Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate, 2010) and The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (CUP, 2012). His research interests include Messiaen, Pärt, jazz, the church and the arts, music and language, music and spirituality, performance practice, music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and music of the world’s religions.

At Boston University Professor Shenton directs the Master of Sacred Music program and the Boston University Messiaen Project [BUMP]. In addition to his position at the School of Theology, Professor Shenton also serves on the faculties of the School of Music (CFA) and CAS/GRS.


Olivier Messiaen’s System of Signs: Notes Towards Understanding His Music (New York: Ashgate, 2008).
Winner of the 2009 Miller Book Award

Messiaen the Theologian (edited by Andrew Shenton), (New York: Ashgate, 2010).

The Cambridge Conpanion to Arvo Pärt (edited by Andrew Shenton), (Cambridge: CUP, 2011).

The Choral and Organ Music of Arvo Pärt, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2015).

Selected articles / book chapters

“The Essential and Phenomenal Arvo Pärt,” in The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (Andrew Shenton, editor), (Cambridge: CUP, 2011).

“Five Quartets: The Search for Stillness and Reconciliation in the War Quartets of Olivier Messiaen and T. S. Eliot,” in Messiaen the Theologian (edited by Andrew Shenton), (New York: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 145-161.

“Composer as Performer, Recording as Text: Notes Towards a ‘Manner of Realization’ for Messiaen’s Music,” in The Cambridge Messiaen Companion (edited by Robert Sholl), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 168-187.

“Observations on Time in Olivier Messiaen’s Traité,” in Olivier Messiaen: Music Art, Literature, (edited by Christopher Dingle & Nigel Simeone), (New York: Ashgate, 2007), pp. 173-189.

“Speaking with the tongues of men and angels: Messiaen’s ‘language communicable,’” in Messiaen’s Language of Mystical Love (edited by Siglind Bruhn), (New York: Garland Publications, 1998), pp. 225-245.

“An Approach to Orchestration and Performance of Marcel Dupré’s ‘Symphonie-Passion, Op. 23,’” in The Organ, Vol. 76, No. 299, winter 1997, pp. 9-14.

“‘The Still Point of the Turning World’: John Tavener’s Numinous Choral Music,” in The Journal of the Music Graduate Society of McGill, Volume IV, March 1995, pp. 23-38.

Papers / presentations

“Enhanced resonance: classification of dissonance and consonance as structural device and text expression in Pärt’sPassio (1982),” Keynote address, Pärt Conference at The Southbank Centre, London, England, September 2010.

“Arvo Pärt’s Organ Music,” in The American Organ Magazine, September 2010.

“Negotiating Rapture: Tekno, Teknival and T. A. Z.: the Temporary Autonomous Zone,” read at the fall meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society at the University of Connecticut, October 2009.

“Mendelssohn’s Organ Music,” lecture-recital for the annual meeting of the Merrimack Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, March 2009.

“The Secrets of Glory: Cataloguing Messiaen’s Theologia Gloriae,” read at Southern Methodist University, TX, September 2008 and The University of Chicago, IL, October 2008.

“All Noise is Waste: Messiaen’s Imaginative use of the Leitmotif,” read at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory, Nashville, TN, November 2008.

“Messiaen in America,” read at The University of Delaware, DE, November 2008.

“For the end of Time: Messiaen’s Quatuor in context,” read at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, December 2008.

“Interpreting Messiaen’s Organ Music,” lecture-recital given to the Merrimack Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Methuen Hall, Methuen, MA, and at Holy Name Parish, West Roxbury, MA, April, 2008.

“Five Quartets: The Search for Stillness and Reconciliation in the War Works of Olivier Messiaen and T. S. Eliot,” read at Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, England, June 2008.

“For Whom the Bells Toll: Arvo Pärt and the Appealing Promise of his Passio,” read at the Southbank Centre, London, England, February 2008.

“Musical settings of the Passion texts,” read at Middlebury College, VT, January 2008.

“Messiaen the Theologian: Exegesis and Enterprise in La Nativité du Seigneur,” read at The Forum on Music & Christian Scholarship, Yale University, New Haven, CT, March 2007.

“Introducing Olivier Messiaen: the Composer and his Music” (with Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone), read at Boston University, September 2006.

“Observations on Time in Olivier Messiaen’s Traité,” read at The American Musicological Society New England Chapter spring meeting at U-Mass Amherst, April 2006.

“Mozart’s Organ Music,” read at the annual meeting of the Merrimack Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, North Andover, MA, February 2006.

“Sublime Simplicity: Text Setting and the Creative Process in the Tintinnabula Music of Arvo Pärt,” read at The Lyrica Society Session of the American Musicological Society Annual Meeting in Washington DC, October 2005 and an extended version read at the Musicology Colloquium Series at Boston University, September 2005.

“The Musical Legacy of Terezin,” read at The Embassy of Austria, Washington DC as part of the Symposium The Art of Defiance, (Catholic University of America), April 2004.

“Monty Python and the Search for the Numinous in Music,” read at St. Philip-in-the-Hills, Tucson, AZ, February 2004.

“Singing the Psalms: Let Me Count the Ways,” read at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ, February 2003.

“Introduction to Baroque Performance Practice,” read at The American Guild of Organists Biennial Convention, Philadelphia, PA July 2002.

“The Intolerable Wrestle with Words and Meaning in Messiaen’s ‘Langage communicable,’” read at Sheffield University, Sheffield, England, June 2002.

“Asylum in Exile: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time as Spiritual Refuge,” read at the University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, April 2001.

Selected Recordings

A Christmas Collection. Boston Choral Ensemble. Oasis Records (forthcoming, 2014).

Organ Music by Twentieth Century British Composers. Oasis Records (forthcoming, 2014).

Utterbackanalia. Jazz-inspired music for organ by Joe Utterback. Solo organ CD recorded on the Mander organ in St. Ignatius Loyola, NYC. Oasis Records.

So Longeth my Soul: Choral Music by Herbert Howells and William Harris. The Choir of Men & Girls, Trinity Church, Princeton, NJ. Oasis Records.

Virtuoso. Solo organ CD recorded on the Skinner/Mander organ in the Princeton University Chapel. Ethereal Records, 119.

Langlais Double Fantasie pour 2 Organistes. Recorded with Simon Lole on the organs in the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Warwick. Abbey Recording Company, APS 377.

On Wings of Song. Daniel Ludford-Thomas (BET/RSCM Choirboy of the Year 1986/7), Choir of St. Matthew’s, Northampton. Abbey Recording Company, APS 378.

Classics from the BET Choristers. Award winners from the BET/RSCM Choirboy of the Year 1986/7 competition. Guild Records.

Sing Nowell. Christmas Music with the Choir and Congregation of St. Matthew’s, Northampton. Priory Recording Company, PRC 256.

Twice Were Angels. Griffin, GCCD 4065, CD.

Once Were Christmas Angels. Griffin, GCCD 4057, CD.

Once Were Angels: The Tradition of Boy Trebles, Griffin GCCD 4040, CD.