In common with so many of my fellow organists, I was attracted to the organ because of its huge capacity, range and variety of colours, combined with a fascination for the mechanics, science and craft that allows for almost endless opportunities for interpretation and creativity.

Whilst my studies were based in the ecclesiastical confines of sacred music – the area in which my life was firmly rooted – I am equally at home in large concert venues, enjoying the opportunities offered by a variety of repertoires, in the company of audience rather than worshippers, and equally enjoying the exhilaration and challenge of playing a wide variety of instruments in some very big spaces, as well as more modest instruments in chamber environments. It is this diversity, this permanent discovery and constant adaptation to new realities that drives my passion for this most stimulating instrument.

Taking part in international events feeds yet another of my great pleasures: travel, meeting people and enjoying the similarities and differences in the cultures that make up our world.  But always with that one thing in common: to make the best sound I can out of a challenging lot of piping!

I will always remember a very cold evening in December 2012, when I was due to give a recital in Westminster Cathedral, London. Unknown to me at the time, Dame Gillian Weir was giving her own final recital there the very next day. When I climbed up to the organ loft I found a note from her asking very nicely if I’d be so good as to leave the marked memory registrations intact once I had finished. A fitting demonstration of the trust and esprit de corps that exists amongst organists, and one I wish to emulate.


João Santos has a degree in Sacred Music from the School of Arts of the Portuguese Catholic University – Porto (2005).

João Santos has excelled in the areas of Organ and Composition, both nationally and internationally, making contact with famous organists such as T. Jellema, W. Zerer, M. Bouvard, J. Janssen, F. Espinasse, O. Latry, D. Roth, L. Scandali, et al.

He has participated in prestigious international organ competitions and he regularly performs concerts nationwide and abroad, namely Westminster Cathedral (London 2012), Orgel Festival Rhür (Germany, 2014), Notre Dame de Paris (2015). He was soloist with the Madeira Classical Orchestra during the International Organ Festival of Madeira, in 2014, among others.

As a composer, João Santos’ works have been internationally recognized, with a number of consequent publications. His transcription for six organs of the Allegretto of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony won the first prize in the international composition competition “Organs of Mafra”, 2017. In the same event, on the 2019 edition, he won again this prize but in the A category with an original composition “Magnificat”. He receives commissions from several music institutions ranging from the commercial to the sacred and liturgical.

Harmoniumist under formation, João Santos has been developing since 2020 a pioneering investigation into the harmonium in Portugal, with a special focus on the “Harmonium d’Art”. In order to bring about the rebirth of this instrument in his country, in 2023 he created the “fort’Expressivo, atelier de música”, whose collection already includes a Mustel “Orgue Expressif” from 1899.

João Santos is accompanying pianist for the ENCANTO counter-tenor duo, with whom he has regular concerts all over Portugal, as well as touring abroad, namely France, Switzerland, Brazil, United States, Belgium, England, Germany and Slovakia.

From 2010 to 2018, João Santos was the principal organist at the Sanctuary of Fátima. Since 2018, he is a permanent member of the team responsible for the ‘Six Organs Concerts’ at the Mafra National Palace Basilica.

João Santos conducts de Carlos Seixas choir (Coimbra) since its inception and he is principal organist of the Cathedral of Leiria since 2007.

Awards and distinctions

2020, selected work – Call Nuova Musica Corale per la Liturgia SIMC2020
2019, 1st prize, International Competition Award for the six historic organs of Mafra, Category A
2019, Finalist, Japan Internation Choral Composition Competition
2019, Honorable mention, 1st Composition Award “Pedro de Araujo”, Braga
2017, 1st prize, International Competition Award for the six historic organs of Mafra, Category B
2014, Finalist, Musica Ficta Internacional Competition for Choral Composition, Italy
2010, Finalist, Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition, USA
2010, Semi final, Paul Hofhaimer Organ Competition, Austria
2009, Semi final, Silbermann Organ Competition, Germany
2007, 2nd prize, Concurso Nacional de Órgão do IGL, Portugal
2007, 1st round, International Schnitger Organ Competition, The Netherlands
2004, 1st prize (young composers), Composition Award “Maestro Silva Dionísio”, Portugal (Inatel)
2002, 3th prize, Composition Award from the “Associação de Coros da Área de Lisboa”, Portugal


[Most relevant]

2022, Intimidade, for soprano and wind ensemble
2022, Se o amor quiser voltar, song for soprano, tenor and theorba
2021, Diptyque Mariale, for vocal ensemble and organ
2020, Quadros Pedagógicos para uma Escola, for different pedagogic groups
2020, Verso, for vocal ensemble and organ | ava202141 | (premiere)
2019, Magnificat, for six organs | (premiere)
2019, Nativity Poem, for concert band
2019, Interchange Suite, for wind trio (fl, ob, sax)
2019, Regina Caeli, for TTBB and organ
2018, Magnificat VII toni, for vocal ensemble a cappella | ava181856
2017, Allegretto, L. v. Beethoven (transcriptions for six organs) | (premiere)
2011, Jesu Dulcis Memoria, for vocal ensemble a cappella | Edition Ferrimontana 3882
2011, Triptych, for vocal ensemble a cappella | Edition Ferrimontana 3883
2002, Alli Lejos, for mixed choir | Cancioneiro Antológico II, ACAL (2008)

Composition for liturgy

[Most relevant]

2023, JMJ Lisbon, psalm Povo do Senhor (M. Luís), for symphonic orchestra | opening mass
2023, Nós somos as pedras vivas (F. Santos), arrangement | Salicus 14
2023, Somos a Igreja de Cristo (M. Faria), arrangement | Salicus 14
2022, Nós vimos a sua estrela (F. Santos), arrangement | Salicus 12
2022, Virão adorar-vos, Senhor (M. Luís), arrangement | Salicus 12
2021, Missa dos Arcanjos | Salicus 11
2021, Na fria lapinha (F. Silva), arrangement | Salicus 10
2021, Nasceu-nos um Salvador (M. Silva), arrangement | Salicus 10
2020, Maria, fonte da esperança (M. Luís), arrangement | Salicus 9
2020, Tomai e recebei (H. Faria), arrangement | Salicus 8
2019, Eu sou o pão da vida (B. Sousa), arrangement | Salicus 7
2018, Recebemos do Senhor (M. Luís), arrangement | Salicus 5
2018, Formamos um só corpo (C. Silva), arrangement | Salicus 4
2018, O Senhor vos abençoe (M. Luís), arrangement | Libellus 7
2016, Ditosa Virgem sois vós, Maria | Libellus 6
2015, Eis a escrava do Senhor (C. Silva), arrangement | Libellus 4
2015, Eu sou a verdadeira vide (C. Silva), arrangement | Libellus 3
2014, Cantemos à porfia (C. Silva), arrangement | Libellus 2
2014, Bebei, se tendes sede (C. Silva), arrangement | Libellus 1


2005, Santo Agostinho: o cantor da sede de Deus (CD2)
SAMP choir
João Santos, organ
Jorge Narciso, conductor
(Summa Augustiniana by João Santos)

2007, Avé Maria
Luís Peças, counter-tenor
João Santos, organ and keyboards

2010, Um coração bonito
Schola Cantorum Pastorinhos de Fátima
Alberto Roque, sax
João Santos, organ
Paulo Lameiro, conductor

2013, Avé Fátima
Schola Cantorum Pastorinhos de Fátima
João Santos, organ
Rita Pereira, conductor assistant
Paulo Lameiro, conductor

2021, Dois Séculos de Música
Organs from Mafra Municipality (Triple CD)
Sérgio Silva, André Ferreira, João Santos, Margarida Oliveira, Diogo Pombo, Daniela Moreira, organs
(Allegretto from the 7th Simphony by Beethoven, transcriptions for six organs by João Santos)