Choral Scholars

The main choir's offshoot, the sparkling Gentlemen of St John's, do sharp business with close harmony arrangements.

Fiona Maddocks at The Observer

The Gents

The Gentlemen of St John's perform separately at around 30 external engagements per year, as well as hosting their famous Garden Party and performing the final set at the St John's May Ball. Choral Scholars on average tend to earn in the region of a further £800 per year from Gents engagements. 

Being a Choral Scholar

The Alto, Tenor and Bass parts are usually taken by 15 Undergraduates at St John's, who are known as Choral Scholars. Choral Scholars study a variety of subjects (all are available except Architecture and Veterinary Medicine).

  • Choral Scholars at St John's earn substantial professional fees (at least £1500 per year) for all non-Chapel service engagements, such as recordings, tours and concerts.
  • The Choir usually tours two or three times a year. All travel, accommodation and meal expenses are covered by the Choir. 
    The current plans for 2015 and 2016 include tours to the Far East, the Netherlands and the USA.
  • Free singing lessons usually taken with David Lowe are provided.
  • Bursaries are available from the College’s Choir Association, to assist with expenses for taking part in other musical activities and further musical education.

Choral and Organ Scholars often go on to highly successful musical careers: Alumni include Simon Keenlyside, Iestyn Davies and Allan Clayton (opera singers), David Pountney (opera director), John Scott, David Hill and Stephen Cleobury (conductors). All Choral Scholars at St John’s sing in 'The Gents'.

Applying for a Choral Scholarship

Andrew Nethsingha, the Director of Music is always keen to hear prospective Choral Scholars at any time of year. He is also happy to arrange for prospective Choral Scholars to meet our Admissions Tutor to discuss which subjects they might wish to study.

Step-by-Step guide for application to St John's

  • 15 September: Choral Awards Vocal Assessment application deadline
  • October: Attend Choral Vocal Assessments Days – 28 September - 1 October
  • By 15 October: Apply for an academic place at St John's – Candidates should indicate on the form (ticking a box) that they wish to be considered for a Choral Award.
  • January: Receive academic decision from St John's – Students who apply to St John's but receive an offer from another college through the Winter Pool may be considered for a Choral Award. Students who do not receive an academic offer from Cambridge cannot be considered for a Choral Award.
  • By 15 February: Apply – Those with a successful academic offer can then apply for a Choral Scholarship or volunteer choral position at Cambridge.
  • 14-16 March: Choral Auditions – Those with offers from St John's who expressed an interest in a Choral Award will automatically be considered for a Choral Award and invited to audition.

Current Vacancies

2016 entry – 2 Altos, 2 Tenors and 4 Basses
2017 entry – 3 Altos, 3 Tenors and 5 Basses

Further information

  1. Email the Admissions Department or call them on 01223 338703 for more information on the academic application process and College Open Days.
  2. To find out more about being a Choral Scholar and any choral aspect of your application, email Andrew Nethsingha or you can call the Choir Office on 01223 338718.
The collective vocal heft of the ensemble's young choral scholars remains a potent weapon under Nethsingha's direction.

Classic FM Magazine 2012

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Recorded on
23 January 2016

Bernstein's Chichester Psalms were commissioned in 1965 by the Rev'd Walter Hussey who had previously commissioned works by Britten, Walton and Finzi.

Featured event

29 March 2016 to 8 April 2016

From 29 March to 8 April, the Choir will performing in concerts across the USA. Here is a schedule of the Choir's performances with direct links to ticketing sites:

Tuesday 29 March, 7.30 pm - Concert at Stanford University Memorial Church 

Latest news

Hong Kong University have released a short film from the Choir's visit last April. It features footage of the Choir rehearsing and performing Rossini's 'O Salutaris Hostia' and Parry's 'Hear my words, ye people', the latter of which was sung together with the HKU Chamber Singers at the end of the concert.

The Choir would like to thank the HKU Chamber Singers for their wonderful hospitality and singing last year. It was one of many highlights from what was altogether a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable trip. 

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer