Born in London in 1970, he attended Harrow School, and was educated at the University of Durham.
While at Durham, he held four scholarships, which included being both a choral scholar and the organ scholar at Durham Cathedral under James Lancelot. He directed the University Chamber Choir and, with Professor Jeremy Dibble, founded the Durham University Consort of Voices. After graduating, he was appointed University Organist and Tutor in Music at Durham.
After two years as College Organist at Sidney Sussex College in the University of Cambridge, he moved to become University Organist and Director of the Chapel Choir at the University of Glasgow. While at Glasgow he spearheaded a campaign to raise £500,000 to rebuild the University’s historic Henry Willis III chapel organ, which had been played by Marcel Dupré. During 2001 he was responsible for the music at the various ceremonial occasions to celebrate the University’s 550th jubilee, which included giving the premier of Sally Beamish’s Caprington Doubles, a fanfare commissioned for HRH The Prince of Wales’s honorary graduation ceremony at the University. Under Dr Brightwell’s direction, Glasgow University Chapel Choir regularly undertook broadcasts on BBC radio and television and an annual foreign tour. In 2002, the choir was invited to sing at the Glasgow Cathedral service in the presence of HM The Queen to celebrate Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee.
After posts at St Paul’s K Street, Washington DC and Immanuel on the Green in historic New Castle, Delaware, he returned to the UK in 2009 for family reasons and took up the post of Organist and Assistant Director of Music at the twelfth-century Civic and Parish Church of St Mary le Tower, Ipswich, where there is a vibrant men and boys choir, an adult chamber choir and an international concert series. In addition to his work at St Mary le Tower, he taught the piano, singing, organ and theory, and his pupils gained the highest marks in the examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Since 2010 he has been a member of the Council of the Guild of Church Musicians. I
n addition to his work as organist, choral conductor and singer (tenor), Giles Brightwell’s academic interests include British music of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, English cathedral and church music, and institutional history.
He has published articles and reviews with Ashgate Press, in the SCM Canterbury Press Dictionary of Hymnology, The Book Collector, in Notes the Journal of the Music Libraries Association of America and in the Grolier Encyclopedia of the Victorian Era.
Having completed an MA in 1998, he completed a PhD in 2006, supervised by Professor Jeremy Dibble on the history of London’s Royal College of Music.
He is in the process of preparing a critical edition from autograph manuscripts of the sacred choral and organ works of the Victorian organist and composer, Thomas Attwood Walmisley (1814-1856).
He is looking forward very much to working with Fr. David Browder and the people of St Thomas’ Episcopal Church and School in his new role.