Music at Buckfast Abbey

Music plays an important role in the life of the Abbey, whether it be Gregorian Chant sung by the Monastic Community at the Daily Office, or choral music sung by the Abbey Choir at the Solemn Mass. The Abbey is a centre of musical activity in Devon, with a popular series of concerts and organ recitals.

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Music Lists

Music Lists

A current music list is available to download here.

An archive of previous music lists is available to view below:

Lent Term 2022
Advent Term 2021
Trinity Term 2021
Lent Term 2020
Advent Term 2019
Trinity Term 2019
Lent Term 2019
Advent Term 2018
Trinity Term 2018

Abbey Musicians

Philip Arkwright — Organist & Master of the Music

Philip Arkwright is Organist & Master of the Music at Buckfast Abbey. Born in St Helens, Merseyside, Philip began his musical career as Organ Scholar at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and was subsequently appointed as Sub-Organist and Director of the Cathedral Girls’ Choir. Philip graduated with a combined honours degree in theology and religious studies, with music, from Liverpool Hope University, and afterwards with a Master’s Degree in Sacred Music. During his tenure at Buckfast Abbey, Philip has overseen the expansion of the music department to include the new Ruffatti organ, the formation of new choir of choristers, a thriving concert and organ recital series in addition to the establishment of the Abbey’s own record label.  In 2018, Philip directed the Abbey Choir at a number of high profile services and events to celebrate 1000 years since the monastery’s foundation, including a televised broadcast of Midnight Mass – the first such broadcast from a Roman Catholic Abbey.

Matthew Searles — Assistant Master of the Music

Matthew Searles is Assistant Master of the Music at Buckfast Abbey. In this role Matthew shares in the accompaniment of the Abbey Choir and monastic community in the Opus Dei, and has particular oversight of the Abbey’s new provision of choristers. In 2018, at the conclusion of Buckfast’s millennium celebrations, Matthew played for Midnight Mass, which was televised live on BBC One. Prior to this, Matthew spent two years as Sub-Organist of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Matthew studied at Royal Holloway, University of London, where as organ scholar he graduated with First Class Honours and the Driver Prize for ‘outstanding musical performance’. Matthew continued his studies, in both the organ and the harpsichord, at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Poitiers, France. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

David Davies — Organist

David Davies is Organist of Buckfast Abbey and Organist at the University of Exeter. He trained as an organist, pianist and conductor at Eton College, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University. David held church and cathedral appointments both in the USA and the UK, most recently as Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral and Sub-Organist and Director of the Girls’ Choir at Guildford Cathedral. He has given concerts across the USA, Japan, South Africa and in several European countries. He also tutors on organ academy courses and lectures frequently on the intersection of the arts and liturgy.

Abbey Choir

The Abbey Choir

The Abbey Choir in its present form was founded in 2009. The choir has since developed a wide repertoire, specialising in the early polyphonic music of the sixteenth century – ranging from the English school of composers such as Taverner, Byrd, and Tallis, as well as composers of the continental schools such as Palestrina, Victoria and Philips. Complimenting this early music, the choir also sings a repertoire from the French romantic tradition by such composers as Widor, Vierne, Langlais and Duruflé. In addition, the choir enjoys the challenge of performing the contemporary music of the modern Roman Catholic composers James MacMillian, Roxana Panufnik, and our composer in residence, Dom Sebastian Wolff OSB.

The choir has continued to develop and attracts semi-professional singers from across the region and beyond. The choir recorded its first commercial disc in 2014 on the Priory label, singing the beautiful and ancient Gregorian chant office hymns in use by the Monastic Community at Buckfast. In 2018, at the conclusion of Buckfast’s millennium year, the choir sang Midnight Mass, which was televised live on BBC One. In addition to singing at the weekly Solemn Mass and on feast days, the choir gives three concert performances per year. The choir is composed of eight sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses. Prospective applicants for the choir should contact Philip Arkwright (Organist & Master of the Music) 



In 2018, Buckfast Abbey celebrated 1000 years since its foundation. As a lasting legacy, the Abbey now offers the opportunity for boys and girls aged between 7 and 14 to be part of our Choral Foundation in partnership with St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

The choristers rehearse before school three mornings per week and after school on a Thursday, in preparation for singing the 17:00 Conventual Mass in the Abbey Church. The choristers also join the Abbey Choir from time-to-time to sing for Sunday Solemn Mass/Vespers, and for other liturgies and concerts throughout the year.

Each chorister receives a scholarship from the Abbey for individual vocal and piano tuition. Each chorister also works towards exams in singing and piano for the Associated  Board of the Royal School of Music.

For more information about Choristerships at Buckfast Abbey, or to make an informal inquiry, in the first instance parents of children who attend St Mary’s School are encouraged to contact Matthew Searles (Assistant Master of the Music), who is always happy to receive enquiries from parents of potential choristers.



The Abbey is a centre for the arts (and particularly sacred music) in the South West, hosting a busy and successful Saturday evening concert series. As well as the Abbey Choir, which gives two concerts annually, the Abbey is used as a base by a number of local choirs. The Abbey has sublime acoustics and is an inspiring building in which to make music.

Our Concerts & Organ Recitals 2022 brochure is available to download here.

Forthcoming concerts:

Abbey Choir & Orchestra: Mozart Requiem

Saturday 21st May 2022, 19:30 | £15.00

The Abbey Choir & Orchestra presents an all-Mozart programme, including his celebrated setting of the Requiem Mass, which remained uncompleted at his death in 1791. Alongside the Requiem will be an Epistle Sonata and his well-known setting of Ave verum corpus...


Grand-Orgue Recital: David Davies

Saturday 11th June 2022, 19:30 | £15.00

Buckfast Abbey Organist, David Davies, presents a dynamic and colourful programme to explore the range of the Ruffatti organ.

David Davies organ


For a full list of concerts at Buckfast Abbey, please click here.

Ad Fontes

Ad Fontes

Ad Fontes is a record label founded by Buckfast Abbey dedicated to presenting recordings of the finest sacred music. Given its roots within the Roman Catholic Benedictine tradition, the label specialises in choral and organ music drawn from that rich heritage, with a focus on the Choir of Buckfast Abbey and the new Ruffatti organ. The name of the label is taken from the Abbey’s motto, Psalm 41: Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus (Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God). For more information, visit