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John Wells

Composer, Performer

Born: 1948 Website  


John Wells is a graduate of Cambridge University, where he was organ scholar at King’s College Chapel under Sir David Willcocks. He received his organ doctorate with high distinction from Indiana University after studies with Dr Oswald Ragatz. He is well-known to New Zealand audiences as a concert performer, composer, recording artist and teacher.

Tours have taken John to Australia and beyond to England, Poland, Germany, France and North America. He established the Cambridge Summer Recitals in 1979 which has now grown to become one of England’s leading organ festivals. John is the national NZ director of the Australian & New Zealand College of Organists, Organist to the University of Auckland, Patron of the NZ Association of Organists and Visiting Artist-Teacher (Organ) at the Auckland University School of Music. As City Organist, he instigated the project to rebuild the Auckland Town Hall organ; after ten years of planning and two years' construction, the new organ was inaugurated on March 21st, 2010.  

John is active as a composer: recent commissions include the Orlando Singers' suite of four NZ love poems  Wild Daisies for their 40th anniversary concert. The works were well received and have appeared on subsequent programmes performed by the Singers. A new mass is under way, dedicated to the memory of David Dunningham, and a second Organ Concerto. The first concerto was premièred in 1996 and has since been heard throughout NZ (8 performances) and in Melbourne with the Orchestra Victoria.

Other commissions include a work exploiting the particular sonorities of the Tongan choral tradition, other choral works, and his fourth and fifth organ suites for a meantone instrument (inspired by the Auckland University organ). His compositions incorporate Maori scales and rhythms and his organ concerto has been performed throughout New Zealand and in Australia. He has composed 25 prelude and fugue pairs for ‘The Well-Tempered Piano’, thirty prelude and fugues in all keys. Other compositions include works for young players and youth orchestras.

Composed (131)

A Little Birthday Suite

for organ, 7m

Ah, my dear Lord

for SSAATTBB choir, 3m

Arise and Hail

for SATB choir and organ

Benedicite Aotearoa

for unison singers with keyboard accompaniment, 3m

Blow me eyes

for SSAATTBB choir, 3m

Blythe Bells

composed by Percy Grainger, arranged for solo organ

Bumblebee Stew

for piano

Cauliflower Cheese

For piano, 1m


for solo violin


for two violins

Comes Jesus

for SATB choir and organ

Concert Overture

for orchestra


for 2 clarinets and strings


for piano

Divertissement en Forme des Variations

for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello

Drop, drop slow tears

for SSAATTBB choir

Elevation (Tierce en Taille)

by Couperin, arranged for cello and piano by John Wells and Euan Murdoch, 4m

Fanfare for a Wedding

for organ, 3m


for organ, 17m

Festival Mass

for SATB, brass and organ

Fifth Suite

for organ tuned to meantone, 19m

First Mass

for unison choir and organ

First String Quartet

for string quartet

First Suite

for organ, 10m

Five Images

for cello and piano

Five Miniatures

for violin and cello

Four Baroque Songs

for two sopranos, gamba and harpsichord

Four Short Pieces

for piano

Fourth Suite

for an organ tuned in meantone

Fun in the Summertime

for solo piano

Gloria Tonga

for SATB choir and organ (or piano), 10m

Grand Prelude Op.66 No.1

by Charles-Valentin Alkan arranged for pedal organ

Hine e Hine

arranged for voice and piano, 2m

Holy Communion (Rite A)

for unison choir and organ

Horn Trio

for horn, cello and piano

How Sweet the Name

for unaccompanied SATB choir, 2m

I Was Glad

for four-part choir and organ

I Will Sing of the Lord's Great Love

for SATB choir and piano

In Days to Come

a festive anthem for choir, trumpet and organ, 7m

Introduction and Descant "Luckington"

for SATB choir, 2 trumpets and organ

Jade and Gold

for SATB choir and piano

Just Another Millennium

for SATB choir and organ

Kokako Fanfare and March

for solo organ

Laudate Dominum

for SATB choir

Magnificat and Nuncdimittis in D Major

for double SATB choir, 8m

Magnificat and Nuncdimittis in G Minor

for SAATBB choir and organ, 8m

March Waikato

arranged for organ, 4m

Mist over Waitemata

for piano, 2m

Moving Along

for piano

Music for Holy Communion

for unison church choir with piano or organ accompaniment

Now is the Hour

arranged for SATBB choir, 2m

Organ Concerto

for organ and orchestra, 23m

Organ Concerto No. 2

for organ and orchestra, 23m

Organ Symphony in C

for organ, 33m

Piano Trio

for violin, cello and piano

Piece in Three Layers

for orchestra, 10m

Psalm 47

for SS (or SA) treble choir, baritone and organ

Psalm 66

for double SATB, brass and organ


for clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Sacerdos et pontifex

for SATB choir, brass and organ

Second Mass

for SATB choir and organ

Second String Quartet

for string quartet


for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and string quartet

Settings for A New Zealand Prayer Book

for unison voices and organ

Slovenly Peter

an operetta, 45m

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

for clarinet and piano

Sonata for Flute and Piano

for flute and piano

String Sextet No. 1

for two violins, two violas and two cellos, 6m


for cello

The Call of the Running Tide

for SATB choir and piano, 18m

The Cygnet

for cello and piano, 3m

The Kraken

for baritone, tuba and piano

The Late Song

for voice and piano

The Lord's Prayer

for SATB choir unaccompanied or with organ, 2m

The Musica Sacra Canticles (Set One)

for mixed choir and organ

The Musica Sacra Canticles (Set Two)

for unaccompanied mixed double choir

The Shepherd's Carol

for SATB Choir with piano accompaniment

Therefore we before Him bending

for SATB choir, 2m

Third Suite

for organ, 18m

Three Herrick Canticles

for SATB choir and piano duet

Three Herrick Canticles

arrangement for SATB choir and orchestra

Three Songs for Alto Voice

for alto voice and piano, 8m

Three Songs of War

for soprano and piano, 10m

Three Studies for Four Chromatic Tympani

for solo percussion with four chromatic tympani, 10m

Toccata for piano

for piano

Tuba Suite

for tuba and piano

Unfinished Business

for solo piano

Variations on Adeste Fideles

for organ pedals

Violin Sonata

for violin and piano, 10m


for orchestra

We praise the infant Jesus

for SATB choir and organ

When the Moon is Blue

for SSAATTBB choir

Wind Quintet

for wind quintet, 7m

Arranged (1)

Grand Prelude Op.66 No.1

by Charles-Valentin Alkan arranged for pedal organ

Commissioned (1)

Variations for Organ

for organ, 12m