Biography

Jamie Hitel was born in Southend on Sea, Essex, England, to a British mother and a Hungarian father.

Jamie’s early musical education began with piano lessons at the age of 6. At the age of 14 he became Organist and Choirmaster of St Alban’s Church, Westcliff, a post he held for 4 years.

After leaving school Jamie won an Organ Scholarship to Robinson College, Cambridge University, where he studied organ with David Sanger, James O’Donnell and Peter Hurford. As Director of Chapel Music, his responsibilities included directing the Chapel Choir, conducting orchestral concerts, and leading several international choir tours. He also appeared regularly as a pianist with the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society.

After graduating, Jamie Hitel went to Norway to work as organist and choir trainer in the Norwegian Church. His first parish, Sandøy, consisted of four small islands in the Norwegian Sea. Travel between the islands was by boat, usually in appalling weather. Jamie’s second job in Norway was divided between the parishes of Ørskog and Stordal, two communities situated close to the most visited fjord in Western Norway.

It was during his time in Norway that Jamie wrote and recorded two musicals, That Pig, Morin, and A Stranger Love.

In 1992, Jamie Hitel became Director of Music at Waltham Abbey, where his eminent predecessors included English composer Thomas Tallis. During this time, he developed and expanded the music program, maintaining a full schedule of services, concerts, broadcasts and recordings. After so long away from Essex, Jamie once again became involved with the local community, serving both as an elected town councilor and as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

In 1999, returning to his ancestral roots, Jamie won a place in the finals of the prestigious Franz Liszt International Organ Competition in Budapest, Hungary, during which his performance of the Poulenc Organ Concerto was broadcast on Hungarian radio.

In November 2000, Jamie was appointed Organist and Choirmaster at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio, where he directed the Choir of Men & Boys and the St Cecilia Choir of Girls. During this time he developed a full schedule of tours, workshops and recordings, founding a new mixed-voice auditioned choir, and produced several commercial CD recordings. The combined choirs traveled to England, performing at Hereford Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Exeter Cathedral, and Waltham Abbey.

During his time in Ohio, Jamie released an acclaimed solo organ CD, on the Lammas record label. Sounds Messianic, featuring the work of Olivier Messiaen and César Franck, was the first commercial CD of the organ at St Paul’s Episcopal Church. It is currently one of the few available recordings of Messiaen’s complete cycle, Les Corps Glorieux.

In 2008, Jamie was appointed Director of Music at Christ Church Greenwich, Connecticut, where he directs the Choir of Men & Boys, the St Cecilia Choir of Girls, and several other ensembles. Jamie is founding director of the Christ Church Scholars, comprising advanced auditioned teens and professional men. Other groups under his supervision include the St Nicholas Choir (for children in grades K-2), the Christ Church Bell Choir, and the Christ Church Compline Choir.

In his spare time, Jamie enjoys long-distance running, having completed two full marathons and three half marathons. More recently, a growing appreciation for the great outdoors resulted in a fifteen mile trail run, across the deserted peaks of Vermont.

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