This noted organist, choral and orchestral conductor, and musical scholar was born in London and raised in Rhodesia. He received his basic education in Munich and then entered Oxford University, where he was an organ scholar at New College. Moving to the States, he studied at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and continued his musical training at the New England Conservatory. His doctoral dissertation was on the organ music of nineteenth-century American composer John Knowles Paine, who, like Somerville, served at Harvard University as organist and choir master.
He then directed the choir at the St. James Church in West Hartford, CT, and went on to direct the choir at the Cathedral of St. Luke in Orlando, FL. There he served as music director of the Bach Festival at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, and founded the Orlando Deanery Boychoir. He was also chorus master to the Florida Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Orlando Opera Company.
In 1987, Somerville was named an associate of the Royal School of Church Music in Britain in honor of his work as a church and Cathedral musician. In 1990, he became Harvard's sixth university organist and choirmaster. Since then, he continues to perform organ recitals across three continents. He conducts major symphony orchestras and serves as guest choral conductor, as well as leading workshops.