Choral Awards, Choral Exhibitions, Choral Studentships, and Choral Scholarships all indicate the same thing - the music award held by a student in a Cambridge chapel choir, who is usually referred to as a 'Choral Scholar'. There are various different official names for Choral Awards depending on the history and statutes of the individual College concerned. Most Cambridge choirs consist of a combination of Choral Award-holders and volunteers.
Choral Award-holders are required to sing in the choir of their College chapel, attending regular rehearsals and services. Most Colleges also expect Choral Award-holders to play an active role in College music-making in general. The responsibilities of Choral Award-holders vary greatly from College to College and are outlined on the relevant College websites (a list of links to individual College choir websites can be found below).
Thorough research into the commitments and expectations should be carried out when you are considering your application. You should consider how many hours a week you are willing and able to devote to your singing, and how that fits around the subject you will be studying.
Some College choral schedules may fit less comfortably with the timetable demands of some courses, so you need to be organised in order to satisfy both your study and Award obligations. Some Colleges restrict students on particular courses from applying for a Choral Award (see the table of subject restrictions).
In all Colleges, Choral Award-holders receive a small financial award each year, currently £100. In most Colleges, Choral Award-holders also receive a subsidy towards singing lessons. Other forms of support, such as subsidised meals and choir tours, are determined by the individual Colleges.
A booklet outlining the responsibilities of Choral Award-holders and the opportunities available to them in each of the participating Colleges is available to download above or from the Co-ordinators of the Inter-Collegiate Choral Awards Scheme (see Further enquiries below).
You can apply for a Choral Award at a number of Colleges, which you will list in an order of preference on your Choral Award Application Form. However, your first-preference College will be the College which has offered you an academic place.
The following Colleges offer Choral Awards through the inter-collegiate competition (called Choral Trials) held in March. If you wish to be considered for one of these Choral Awards you must submit a Choral Award Application Form by 15 February 2014 (see How do I apply?).
|Corpus Christi||King's||St John's (men only)|
|Fitzwilliam||Newnham (women only)||Sidney Sussex|
|Gonville and Caius||Queens'||Trinity Hall|
The following Colleges do not offer Choral Awards through the inter-collegiate competition, but do offer Choral Awards to their students. See the relevant College website for details.
The following Colleges do not offer any Choral Awards.
|Hughes Hall||St Edmund's||Wolfson|
Most Cambridge College choirs are composed of a mix of Award-holders (determined through the application process outlined below) and Volunteers.
Volunteers in a particular College choir are sometimes students at another College and may include graduate students as well as undergraduates.
Some Colleges have sufficient Award-holders (and in some cases Volunteers) to fill their choir vacancies from their own student body, but when places remain it is possible to volunteer and be auditioned after you have arrived in Cambridge.
A Volunteer is not eligible to transfer Colleges but will participate fully in the activities and life of their choir.
A Choral Award can only be held in conjunction with an academic place at the awarding College. You cannot obtain an Award at more than one College. The Awards are primarily geared towards, and held by, undergraduates, but some Colleges will accept applications from potential postgraduate students (details should be sought from Directors of Music in individual Colleges).
You may list as many or as few Colleges as you like on your application form. Only list Colleges for which you are eligible: St John's has a male-voice choir; Newnham is a women's College and so only women should list Newnham (although Newnham Choral Awards are held in Selwyn College's mixed choir). King's has both male-voice and mixed choirs.
Some Colleges will not consider Choral Award applications from students on particular courses, as detailed below.
UK/EU students may first signal an interest in applying for a Choral Award on the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). Overseas students may first signal an interest in applying for a Choral Award on the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA).
However, all applicants to Cambridge who receive an academic offer in January (whether or not they indicated an interest in their SAQ/COPA) will be asked if they wish to apply for a Choral Award, and there is no disadvantage to declaring an interest at this later stage.
No Choral Award applications can be made or will be considered before the academic assessment of applicants has been completed.
Applicants wishing to be considered for an Award should complete and submit the Choral Award application form for receipt by 15 February 2014. Some Colleges may use an earlier deadline - please see College websites for details. Late applications will not be considered.
You will be considered for Choral Awards according to the order of College preference which you express on your Choral Award application form.
If you are not successful chorally at the College at which you hold an academic offer but chose to list other Colleges on your Choral Awards application form, and are accepted to a choir in one of these other Colleges, you may be transferred to that other College as a result of the Choral Trials, subject to the approval of both Colleges.
In some cases a transfer may not be possible. In such circumstances, a candidate may be awarded a full place in the choir that wishes to have them (as a 'Volunteer') but will remain a member of the College from which they originally received an academic offer.
Your first-choice College (which must be the College that has made you an academic offer) may call you for auditions (Choral Trials) anytime between the Choral Awards application deadline and mid-March.
For those who are auditioned and are not made a Choral Award offer by their first-preference College, and for those whose Colleges do not hold early auditions, further auditions will be held in Cambridge in March 2014. Those holding offers for deferred entry in 2015 will be auditioned at the same time as the 2014 entry applicants and not during the following academic year.
We anticipate that each applicant's audition will be completed in a single day. Should you need to travel a significant distance to get to Cambridge and will therefore require overnight accommodation, please contact your first-choice College.
Some applicants are offered an academic place at Cambridge as result of being selected through the winter pool in January. In these cases, Choral Award candidates cannot be transferred back to their original College (which placed them in the pool) through the March auditions.
However, if a candidate wishes to be considered for a 'Volunteer' place at the College to which they originally applied, they should contact the Director of Music at that College for further advice before the 15 February deadline.
Candidates who are awarded an academic place in January by a College which does not participate in the inter-collegiate Choral Awards scheme should also contact the Director of Music of their original College for further advice.
All applicants for Choral Awards are auditioned. At the auditions, you will be asked to sing a piece of your own choice, which should be something that demonstrates the suitability of your voice to the traditional choral repertoire. The piece can be sacred or secular but should not exceed five minutes in length. An accompanist will be provided.
You will also be asked to undertake some sight reading and ear tests. Sight reading will most likely include sixteenth-century polyphony (probably in Latin) and the ear tests will consist of exercises such as recognising intervals, singing the middle note of a given chord, singing back a short melody, and other similar exercises.
If you would like to prepare for these, you can try our sample tests.
Open days for vocal guidance
There will be an opportunity this September to visit Cambridge and obtain advice before applying to the University. The Directors of Music at certain Colleges will be available to offer informal advice on the suitability of your voice for their choirs. They will hear you sing and provide guidance intended to assist you in selecting an appropriate College to apply to in advance of the 15 October application deadline. See Open Days for Vocal Guidance for more information.
Choral Award Open Day
The Choral Awards Open Day has already taken place for this year. Next year's event will be held in April 2014 (date to be confirmed). Further details will be announced in due course.
Students applying for 2014 entry (or deferred entry in 2015) should contact the Director of Music at their preferred College for more information. Colleges may also be able to offer advice and guidance to prospective Choral Award applicants at their other open events throughout the year (for which booking is required). Dates of forthcoming College open days can be found here.
Information from the Colleges
Please download the Information about Organ and Choral Scholarships booklet for guidance from the participating Colleges.
College choirs and chapel have their own websites that you may find of use:
Do you still have any questions? Please contact the Directors of Music at the individual Colleges if you have questions about specific College Choral Awards. If you have any further questions about the inter-collegiate competition, please contact either one of the Co-ordinators of the Inter-Collegiate Choral Awards Scheme, below.
Ms Sarah MacDonald
Tel: 01223 335877
Dr Geoffrey Webber
Tel: 01223 332448