AS a child growing up in Bolton, all Mark Williams ever wanted to do was to play the church organ.
Now, aged 30, the musician has achieved one of the country’s most prestigious jobs — as director of music at a Cambridge University college.
Mark, from Harwood, has come a long way since playing the organ in Bolton’s Christ Church, and in September he will begin work at Jesus College, Cambridge. Founded in 1496, the college is renowned for its musical achievements.
Mum, Elizabeth Williams, a retired teacher, of Appledore Drive, Harwood, said: “It is a very prestigious appointment and we are very proud of Mark. He never expected to get the job because he was up against musicians from Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, so he’s done incredibly well.”
Mark attended Christ’s Church School, Harwood, and was awarded a music scholarship to Bolton School at the age of 10.
He was a chorister at Manchester Cathedral at nine years old and by the time he was 12 he had fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming the church organist. Mrs Williams said: “He told the school’s careers teacher he wanted to be a cathedral organist and they said it wasn’t a real job. But all he wanted to do was play the organ in church and since then he has been living the dream.”
One of his most memorable experiences was singing on stage with Take That as part of a backing group for Never Forget when he was 16 years old.
Mark was an organ scholar at Truro Cathedral before completing a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge. Then in 2000, aged 21, he became the youngest ever assistant organist of St Paul’s Cathedral in London and director of music at St Paul’s Cathedral School.
Two years ago, Mark became principal conductor of the English Chamber Opera. Mrs Williams said: “Cathedral music was always Mark’s first love but he wanted to try new things while he was still young. He has been doing all sorts, travelling to Zambia to work with church choirs and spending each summer in America teaching children to sing.”
Since then Mark has worked regularly with Hayley Westenra, All Angels and Natasha Marsh.
Mrs Williams added: “The nicest thing about Mark is that despite all his success from an early age, he is extremely humble. He just lives for his music.”