University of Cambridge

Undergraduate

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Organ Scholarships

Most Colleges have two Organ Scholars (a Junior and a Senior) in residence at any one time. In all Colleges, the Organ Scholars’ duties are centred around providing music in the College chapel.

In all Colleges, the Organ Scholar receives a small financial award each year (£450 per year). In most Colleges the Organ Scholar is also given a subsidy towards organ lessons, and a piano in his/her room. Other perks, including subsidised meals and choir tours, are determined by the individual Colleges.

What is an Organ Scholar?

What is an Organ Scholar?

Most Colleges have two Organ Scholars (a Junior and a Senior) in residence at any one time. In all Colleges, the Organ Scholars’ duties are centred around providing music in the College chapel, and Organ Scholars are usually expected to commit themselves to general music-making in the College as well. In some Colleges, chapel duties include acting as an Assistant Organist to a full-time professional Director of Music - accompanying the choir in regular services, concerts, and professional tours and engagements - while the Director of Music does most of the conducting of the choir, and all of the administration. In other Colleges, duties are shared between a part-time professional Director of Music and the two Organ Scholars, with playing, conducting, and administrative duties distributed equally amongst the three, or sometimes with the two Organ Scholars doing the bulk of the work, closely overseen by the Director of Music. A few other Colleges have no Director of Music at all, and the Organ Scholars are entirely responsible for the recruitment, training, conducting, accompanying, and administration of their chapel choirs (usually in consultation with a Dean or Chaplain).

Obviously, different skills are required for the various types of Organ Scholarship, and there is a significant difference in the time commitment required as well: for example, there are seven services per week to be accompanied by the King’s and St John’s Organ Scholars, and only one service per week to be prepared for and conducted by the Fitzwilliam Organ Scholar. The roles, duties, and perks of the holder of the Organ Scholarship at each of the participating Colleges are outlined in a separate booklet available to download above or from the Co-ordinator of the Inter-Collegiate Organ Scholarship Scheme. Think carefully about your skills (organ-playing, conducting, administrative), and about your aspirations, as you draw up your preference list: there is a wealth of opportunities on offer here, and you will want to take full advantage of those that are particularly suited to your expertise. Once you have chosen the type of Organ Scholarship you are interested in, it is advisable to list as many Colleges in your preferences as you can, in order to maximise your chances of gaining a scholarship.

In all Colleges, the Organ Scholar receives a small financial award each year (£450 per year). In most Colleges the Organ Scholar is also given a subsidy towards organ lessons, and a piano in his/her room. Other perks, including subsidised meals and choir tours, are determined by the individual Colleges.

All Organ Scholars are also automatically members of the inter-collegiate Organ Scholars’ Forum (OSF). The Forum organises regular master-classes in playing and choral conducting, as well as discussion sessions with professional organists from cathedrals and other positions. More information about the OSF is available at www.mus.cam.ac.uk/about-us/music-environment/osforum.

Which Colleges have Organ Scholars?

Which Colleges have Organ Scholars?

The following Colleges offer Organ Scholarships through the inter-collegiate competition (called Organ Trials) held in September.

Christ’s Gonville and Caius Robinson
Clare Homerton St Catharine’s
Churchill Jesus St John’s
Corpus Christi King’s Selwyn
Downing Magdalene Sidney Sussex
Emmanuel Pembroke Trinity
Fitzwilliam Peterhouse Trinity Hall
Girton Queens’  

The following scholarship may also be of interest to some potential candidates: Fitzwilliam College offers a Repetiteur Scholarship for keyboard players. Further information can be found on www.fitz.cam.ac.uk.

The following Colleges DO NOT offer Organ Scholarships.

Hughes Hall Murray Edwards St Edmund's
Lucy Cavendish Newnham Wolfson

What vacancies are there for entry in 2016 and 2017?

What vacancies are there for entry in 2016 and 2017?

Organ Scholarships are available as follows for the next two years:

Please note that although the following is accurate at the time of being published online, from time to time the individual circumstances of any given college may change. Potential candidates are therefore advised to check the site regularly in case the list of scholarships change for any reason.

Christ’s
2016
---
Churchill
---
2017
Clare
---
2017
Corpus Christi
2016
2017
Downing
2016
2017
Emmanuel
---
2017
Fitzwilliam
2016
2017
Girton
---
2017
Gonville and Caius
2016
---
Homerton
2016
2017
Jesus
2016
---
King’s
---
2017
Magdalene
2016
2017
Pembroke
2016
---
Peterhouse
2016
2017
Queens’
---
2017
Robinson
---
2017
St Catharine’s
2016
2017
St John’s
2016
2017*
Selwyn
2016
2017
Sidney Sussex
2016
2017
Trinity
---
---
Trinity Hall
2016
---

* Please note that in the case of St John’s College, their official vacancy is for 2016, but the College may choose to appoint someone for 2017 instead if having a ‘gap’ year seems more appropriate for the successful candidate. Please consult Mr Nethsingha directly if you are interested in applying to St John’s.

Are there any restrictions?

An Organ Scholarship can only be held in conjunction with an academic place at the awarding College. The scholarships 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 the individual Colleges.

Most, but certainly not all, Organ Scholars, study towards a degree in Music. Some Colleges do not permit Organ Scholars to study certain subjects (usually in the sciences, as lab times often conflict with rehearsal and Evensong); for details, please see the table of subject restrictions.

Can I study any course?

Can I study any course?

Some Colleges restrict the subjects you may apply for as an Organ Scholar. Applications from potential Organ Scholars will NOT normally be considered by applicants hoping to study the following subjects.

College Restrictions
Christ’s Architecture
Churchill Land Economy, Theology and Religious Studies
Clare No subject restrictions
Corpus Christi Architecture, Land Economy, Education, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
Downing Education
Emmanuel Land Economy
Fitzwilliam No subject restrictions
Girton Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
Gonville and Caius No subject restrictions
Homerton Architecture, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
Jesus Education, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
King’s Veterinary Medicine, Architecture, Medicine, Education, Land Economy
Magdalene No subject restrictions
Pembroke Education, Geography
Peterhouse Education, Geography, Veterinary Medicine
Queens’ No subject restrictions
Robinson No subject restrictions
St Catharine’s Architecture, History of Art
St John’s Veterinary Medicine
Selwyn No subject restrictions
Sidney Sussex Education
Trinity Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
Trinity Hall No subject restrictions

If you are wishing to apply for Medicine please note that you cannot apply for a Scholarship at both Cambridge and Oxford.

Please also note that no Organ Scholarships will be awarded to Medicine or Veterinary Medicine students until after BMAT results have been received and interviews conducted.

How do I apply?

How do I apply?

Applicants for an Organ Scholarship must complete a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA), as well as a UCAS application. It should be noted that Organ Scholarship applicants should wait until they have the results of their Organ Trial before submitting their UCAS application. However, applicants will need to register with UCAS and acquire a UCAS Personal ID number in order to complete and submit the COPA. A draft version of a candidate's UCAS Personal Statement is also required as part of the COPA application process. Applications for Organ Scholarships should be accompanied by both an academic reference and a declaration of musical ability. Both academic and musical referees  are required to send their reference to the applicant's first-choice College both as an electronic email attachment and as a 'hard' copy (with an original signature) in the post by 11 September 2015. The reference(s) should describe the applicant's academic and musical abilities and, in the case of the latter, their fitness to hold an Organ Scholarship. Applicants must provide all of their referees with a completed declaration coversheet which should then be attached to all references.

The deadline for entry in 2016 and deferred entry in 2017 is Monday 1 September 2015. Late applications will not be considered.

You will be considered for Organ Scholarships according to the order of preference on your COPA. In the past successful applicants have typically listed between eight and 10 Colleges.

If you are unable to submit a final version of your UCAS personal statement or reference with your COPA, a working draft can be submitted. If this is your intention please make it clear and ensure that the final version/s are sent to the appropriate College as soon as possible to enable the College to make their assessment at the Organ Trials which take place towards the end of September.

Please note that the Colleges will not continue to consider your application for an award if they judge that you are below the appropriate academic standard for normal admission. If your previous academic record is poor, and there are no mitigating circumstances, you may be excluded from consideration before the final stage of the competition. If you are uncertain whether or not to pursue your application, you should consult the Admissions Tutor of your first preference College who will be able to offer you advice.

Once the results of the Organ Trials are known, UCAS applications should be submitted by the usual deadline of 15 October. Once the UCAS application has been received by the University this triggers an automated email directing the candidate to complete the SAQ.

When do the auditions and interviews take place?

When do the auditions and interviews take place?

The Organ Trials in 2015 will take place from Wednesday 23 to Saturday 26 September.

The schedule below is subject to confirmation, but gives a general idea of the programme during the auditions. Please note that we co-ordinate the Trials closely with Oxford, so it is possible for candidates who are applying to both Cambridge and Oxford to travel between the two universities without missing any appointments.

Wednesday 23 September (starting mid afternoon) Practice times on various organs
Possible College interviews
Early evening: ear tests (for all applicants)
Evening: meeting for all applicants
Thursday 24 September Morning: harmony test (for all applicants applying to read Music)
Organ playing auditions
College interviews and Second Auditions
Friday 25 September Conducting auditions (short choir practice)
Further interviews and Second auditions
Saturday 26 September

Possible further auditions / interviews during the morning. Following the Formal Elections meeting, held in the late morning, those results which can be will be announced (though some results may be dependent on the results of the Oxford Trials).


As indicated above, as well as the musical tests and auditions, all applicants will be interviewed academically during the Trials, both at their first-preference college and by other subject-specialists from within the University. It is likely, therefore, that you will be asked to submit copies of school work to your first-choice College before your arrival in Cambridge. In some exceptional cases, applicants may be required to return in December for academic interviews (most likely with those who are applying to study a subject other than Music), but it is hoped that this will not be required.

Accommodation and meals for the audition period will be provided in your first-choice College, in most (but not all) Colleges free of charge.

Forecast dates for Organ Trials over the next few years, as follows:

2015: 23-26 September
2016: 18-21 September
2017: 20-23 September
2018: 16-19 September
2019: 25-28 September

What will happen at the audition?

What will happen at the audition?

The audition will involve:

1. EAR TESTS (to be taken by all applicants):

  • dictation of a melody
  • dictation of a four-part chorale (the soprano part will be given throughout)
  • recognition and correction of mistakes of pitch and rhythm in a score heard three times.

Download a specimen set of aural tests.

2. HARMONY TEST (to be taken by those applicants applying to read Music):

  • harmonisation of a Bach chorale (the soprano part given throughout) without the aid of a keyboard

3. ORGAN-PLAYING AUDITION (a page turner will be provided)

  • prepared piece: applicants are required to play one of the following trio movements (please note that the third and fourth trios listed are new options):
    • J S Bach Trio No. 1 in E flat major - BWV 525 (first movement only)
    • J S Bach Trio No. 4 in E minor - BWV 528 (first movement only)
    • J S Bach Trio on Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend - BWV 655
    • J S Bach Trio on Nun komm der Heiden heiland - BWV 660
  • sight-reading: on three staves, some simple registration changes may be required
  • transposition: hymn-like passage on two staves, up or down a tone or semitone, use of pedals is required
  • four-part score-reading: without the use of pedals.

Download a specimen set of tests at the keyboard.

4 COLLEGE ORGAN-PLAYING AUDITIONS

  • Second piece: all applicants must prepare and bring a second, contrasting piece, which they may be asked to play at College and further auditions. The piece must be of a grade 8 standard or above, and should be of a contrasting mood/tempo to the Trio Sonata
  • Some Colleges may ask you to improvise, and/or to play a hymn or psalm.

5 CONDUCTING AUDITION

Applicants will be required to conduct a six-minute choir practice. Music will be distributed at the meeting for all applicants at the beginning of the trials. It will be a short, unaccompanied anthem, and applicants can expect the choir to know the notes. The choir will be a friendly and informally constituted ensemble of current choral scholars and organ scholars. A keyboard or piano will be provided for giving starting notes to the choir.

How can I find out more about the Organ Scholarships?

How can I find out more about the Organ Scholarships?

Open Day 2015

Apply to attend the Organ Scholarships Open day 2015

Organ Scholarships Open day 2015 Booking Form

Please note: Open day booking deadline 22 Feb 2015

Information from the Colleges

Information from the Colleges

Download the organ and choral scholarships booklet for information from the participating Colleges: Information about Organ and Choral Scholarships.

College choirs and chapels also have their own websites that you may find of use:

College Website
Christ’s www.christs.cam.ac.uk/choir/
Churchill www.chu.cam.ac.uk/societies/chapel/
Clare www.clare.cam.ac.uk/Choral-and-Organ-Scholarships/
Corpus Christi www.corpus.cam.ac.uk/about-corpus/chapel/organ-scholarships
Downing www.dow.cam.ac.uk/index.php/about/chapel/choir
Emmanuel www.emma.cam.ac.uk/collegelife/chapel/choir/scholarships/
Fitzwilliam www.fitz.cam.ac.uk/music/chapel-choir
Girton www.girton.cam.ac.uk/girton-today/music/organ-scholarship
Gonville and Caius www.babylon.acad.cai.cam.ac.uk/college/choir/organscholarships.php
Homerton www.homerton.cam.ac.uk/node/148
Jesus www.chapel.jesus.cam.ac.uk/choirs/
King’s www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/choir/index.html
Magdalene www.magd.cam.ac.uk/about/chapel.html
Pembroke www.pem.cam.ac.uk/chapel/
Peterhouse www.srcf.ucam.org/petcc
Queens’ www.srcf.ucam.org/qcc/
Robinson www.robinson.cam.ac.uk/admissions/choralawards.php
St Catharine’s www.caths.cam.ac.uk/home/?m=page&id=735
St John’s www.sjcchoir.co.uk/
Selwyn www.sel.cam.ac.uk/chapel/ChoirOrgan/OrganScholarships/
Sidney Sussex www.sid.cam.ac.uk/life/chapel/choir/
Trinity www.trinitycollegechoir.com
Trinity Hall www.trinhall.cam.ac.uk/about/music/



Further enquiries

Do you still have any questions? Please contact the Directors of Music at the individual Colleges if you have questions about specific College Organ Scholarships. If you have any further questions about the inter-collegiate competition, please contact:

Mr Andrew Arthur
Co-ordinator, Organ Scholarships Competition
Director of Music
Trinity Hall
Cambridge CB2 1TJ
01223 332549
aa373@cam.ac.uk