World-renowned musician James Kennerley will join the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary in Falmouth as a music minister this fall. Contributed / James Kennerley

Falmouth’s Episcopal Church of Saint Mary soon will have an internationally acclaimed organist as its music minister.

James Kennerley will be the church organist and lead the congregation in song starting in September, Rector Nathan Ferrell said. Kennerley will also oversee special musical performances at the church for the wider community.

Kennerley is Portland’s municipal organist for the city’s famous Kotzschmar organ and has also served as music director for three Episcopal churches in New York and Connecticut, and most recently at St. Paul’s Choir School and Parish in Harvard Square.

“James is a musical genius, and he’s an internationally-renowned musician,” Ferrell said. “To have someone like that here in Falmouth is remarkable.”

Kennerley is looking forward to bringing his music to the Falmouth congregation. Music is powerful, he said, especially church music.

“People are always looking for something, and music is often that gateway,” he said. “I would like to think that when I make music, and the people I make music with, that there’s always that tangible sense of a higher purpose than just entertainment.”


Hearing live music is incredibly important for everyone, Kennerley said. It’s not just about entertainment, but finding a purpose and “going deep.”

Music has always been an incredibly important part of his life, he said. Growing up in England, his family had a piano and he would spend hours making up melodies and plunking away at the keys.

“My parents thought I was trying to sound like Elton John, but not in a good way,” he said, laughing.

When they realized their son had musical potential, his parents signed him up for piano lessons and he became more disciplined about practicing and playing correctly.

At age 8, Kennerley joined his town’s cathedral choir and immediately became fascinated with the pipe organ.

“It has these big, thundering low notes and these loud, trumpet-like notes,” Kennerley said. “It’s totally thrilling.”


Immediately, he decided he wanted to learn to play it and started asking around about how he could make that happen. He was told that first he’d have to grow more.

“You have to play with your feet, so your legs have to be a certain length,” he said.

As a teenager, when his legs were long enough, he began organ lessons. He went on to study music at the university level in England and then at The Juilliard School in New York City.

Kennerley made it his mission to follow his passion of performing, making music and entertaining people.

“I never looked back,” he said.

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