Cambridge organist Anna Lapwood appointed MBE

A renowned organist and conductor who spoke out against sexism in his music industry said being appointed an MBE for services to music was a “huge privilege”.

Anna Lapwood, 28, director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, said her inclusion in the New Year’s Honors list was “still sinking in”.

Through TikTok he introduced the organ to a new audience gaining more than 690,000 followers.

“It feels like a huge privilege,” he said.

Ms Lapwood was the first female organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, in its 560 year history and is currently associate artist at the Royal Albert Hall in London and also conductor at Pembroke College at Cambridge University.


On being appointed an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), he said: “It’s absolutely crazy. When the letter arrived, I think I just screamed and ran around a bit.

“It feels like a huge privilege in this search to try and give that organ even more importance. It feels like there’s one more tick in that box. It’s really exciting.”

Ms Lapwood regularly plays at the Royal Albert Hall and has collaborated with artists including Alison Balsom, Raye, Bonobo and Benedict Cumberbatch.

He started playing the organ as a teenager because his father was a minister “so I was in church a lot growing up,” he said.

“I didn’t fall in love with it straight away. At first I found it very, very difficult, but that made me even more determined to try to figure out how to play it,” he added.

‘Play like a man’
She founded the women’s choir at Pembroke College, which she said was “a big part of who I am as a musician”.

Ms Lapwood recalled being encouraged to “play like a boy” during an organ competition as a student and the experience encouraged her to advocate for girls and women in music.

“I think we all hope that one day we won’t have to talk about a musician’s gender anymore because it shouldn’t make a difference, but the reality is that the number of organists at the top – the number of male versus female organists – is not even,” he said .

“Until we get to the point where the numbers are out, I think we still have to, in inverted commas, kick the gender agenda up a bit and make sure that the next generation sees real role models.”