Image of Benjamin Sheen will join Jesus College as Director of Music on 1 January 2023
Photo credit: Ira Lippke

New Director of Music appointed

Jesus College is pleased to announce that Benjamin Sheen has accepted the post of Director of Music at Jesus College.

Ben will join the College on 1 January 2023, succeeding Richard Pinel, who has been appointed Director of Music at St Mary’s Bourne Street in London.

Ben enjoys a distinguished career as a musician, both as an organist and conductor, currently holding the post of Sub-Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Alongside playing duties, he oversees the organ scholar programme, regularly conducts the Cathedral Choir and serves as organ tutor at the University of Oxford.

He began his musical career as a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral in London, during which time he gained a music scholarship to Eton College. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and the Juilliard School and is also a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and the 2011 recipient of the Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

As a concert organist with a growing international reputation, Ben has performed throughout Europe and the USA as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. 

Hailed as ‘brilliant’ by The New York Times, he has been awarded several prizes in international organ competitions and has performed with notable orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of London Sinfornia, the Auckland Philharmonic and Orchestra of St Luke’s (New York City), and appeared on BBC radio and television several times.

Before coming back to Oxford, he spent seven years in New York working at Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue as Associate Organist, also serving for a time as Director of Music and directing the choir on a domestic tour of the USA.

The Master of Jesus College, Sonita Alleyne, said: "We’re lucky to have a strong musical and choral tradition here at Jesus College with two acclaimed choirs and a history for nurturing exceptional musical talent. I’m delighted Ben is joining us as our next Director of Music and we are all looking forward to working with him and to all that he will bring to the musical life of the entire College.

“I’d also like to thank Richard Pinel for his outstanding contribution to our choirs and music within the College and I wish him the best for his new role.”

Ben commented: “I am thrilled to be joining Jesus College as its next Music Director early next year. I look forward to continuing and building upon the exceptional musical tradition at Jesus and being part of the thriving and vibrant College community through its next chapter.”

Director of Music bequest

The tradition of music-making at Jesus College was strengthened in 2021 by a bequest of more than £1 million that perpetually endowed the post of Director of Music. Penny Woods left this remarkable residuary legacy to the College in memory of her husband, Alan Woods (1967). She and Alan so enjoyed performances by the College Choirs, they were intent on protecting the key post that maintains and enhances the quality of Chapel music at Jesus. Any additional income generated by the endowed fund is used to promote the reputation of the College Choirs, and support their activities including tours and recordings.

Penny’s legacy identifies the College Choirs and music more broadly as centrally important to the culture of the College, such that Jesus College will always be able to attract accomplished candidates like Ben Sheen to the post.

Legacy gifts continue to play a significant role in establishing a financially sustainable future for Jesus College. Penny and Alan worked closely with the College to ensure we would be able to implement their vision – if you are considering leaving a legacy or giving an in-memory gift, please contact the Development and Alumni Relations Office.