James Govenlock, Organist and Director of Music at St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide from 1949 until his death in 1984, was one of the most sensitive liturgical organists of his generation in Adelaide.
Govenlock was born in 1918 and grew up in Adelaide. His first musical post, as a teenager, was as Organist of Wesley Methodist Church, Norwood, in suburban Adelaide. Later he moved to a position at Christ Church, North Adelaide. He obtained a degree in music at the University of Adelaide, undertook war service with the army in Melbourne and after the war, with a scholarship, studied at the Royal College of Music in London. He won the prestigious Limpus Prize from the Royal College of Organists.
In 1949 he succeeded his mentor Harold Wylde as organist and choirmaster of the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide and maintained an excellent choral standard. In 1968 he was appointed to a lectureship in music at the University of Adelaide.
For over thirty years Govenlock was a significant figure in the musical life of Adelaide as a teacher and examiner. In 1963 he founded the Corinthian Singers. In 1977, for services to church music, he was made a papal Knight of St Gregory the Great. Sadly he died soon after his retirement from the University.
He is remembered as a superb organist, as a conductor, composer and teacher, and as a lively companion.