Andrew Shenton


Professor of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology; James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music (joint appointment at the School of Theology)


BM, London University; MM, Yale University; AM, PhD, Harvard University; FRCO (ChM), LRAM, ARCM, DipRCM.


745 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 438


Andrew Shenton is a scholar, prize-winning author, performer, educator and administrator based in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 B.Mus. degree at London University and was an organ scholar at St. Paul’s Cathedral. After graduating he was appointed Director of Music at St. Matthew’s Church in Northampton and Lecturer in the Humanities at Leicester University. In 1991 Andrew 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 Ph.D. in musicology at Harvard University. His Master’s thesis concerns the renaissance of sacred art after 1945 in Britain, and his doctoral dissertation is a musico-linguistic study of the twentieth-century French mystic composer Olivier Messiaen.

Dr. 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; and Washington National Cathedral. He has toured extensively in Europe and the US as a conductor, recitalist and clinician, and his three solo organ recordings have received international acclaim. Shenton maintains an active performance career because he believes it is important that any scholarly engagement with the arts is not divorced from its creation and performance.

In addition to diplomas in both piano and organ Dr. Shenton holds the Choir Training diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He has pioneered contemporary music in a variety of styles and has given more than fifty world or US premieres by composers such as Geoffrey Burgon, Joe Utterback, John Tavener, Judith Weir and Arvo Pärt. He has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards including a Harvard Merit Fellowship, Harvard’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching and a Junior Fellowship from the Center for the Humanities at Boston University.

Moving freely between musicology and ethnomusicology Shenton’s work is best subsumed under the heading ‘music and transcendence.’ This is demonstrated, for example, by his recent and ongoing work in popular music, which includes an essay that analyses the acoustic ecology of rave music as a way of negotiating an ecstatic experience (Fordham University Press, 2015), and lectures and writing on how hip-hop has become a complex soundscape that signals religious identity, notably for Christians and Muslims. A subsidiary to this work is his interest in how sound studies deal with issues of cognition, and the physical and mental elements of transformation and transcendence. His ground-breaking work on Olivier Messiaen includes a monograph Olivier Messiaen’s System of Signs (Ashgate, 2008), which won the 2010 Miller Book Award; and a collection of essays which he edited entitled Messiaen the Theologian (Ashgate, 2010). More recently, his work on Arvo Pärt includes several lectures and recitals, and publications such as The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (CUP, 2012), which he edited. He recently signed a second contract with Cambridge University Press to write a monograph on Arvo Pärt’s choral and organ music, which is due for publication in 2016.

Dr. Shenton is interested in the process and practice of higher education in the twenty-first century. He engages with broad issues of pedagogy, especially those to do with technological advance, including blended and online education. He is engaged in pioneering work in ePublishing, and with strategies for student recruitment and retention. He is especially concerned with the role of the Arts in the contemporary curriculum and the particular opportunities this provides for students interested in careers in the Arts and related fields.

He works artistically and administratively as Conductor and Director of the Boston Choral Ensemble. At Boston University, Dr. Shenton holds appointments in the School of Theology, School of Music (College of Fine Arts) and College of Arts and Sciences (musicology faculty). He is an Associate Professor of Music, the James R. Houghton Scholar of Sacred Music, Director of the Master of Sacred Music program, Director of the Boston University Messiaen Project [BUMP] and Director of the Religion and Arts Initiative.

Andrew Shenton conducting Ligeti’s Lux aeterna with the Boston Choral Ensemble in the Hayden Planetarium, Boston (June 2014)

Andrew Shenton conducting Ligeti’s Lux aeterna with the Boston Choral Ensemble in the Hayden Planetarium, Boston (June 2014)