The Choral Scholars

The Gentlemen of St John's College, Cambridge

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'.

    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.

    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

    • October: Attend Choral Vocal Assessments Days – Wednesday 1 October (altos & tenors), Thursday 2 October (baritones & basses).
    • 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 to Cambridge.
    • 18-20 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

      2015 entry – 2 Altos, 2 Tenors, 2 Basses
      2016 entry – 3 Altos, 3 Tenors and 4 Basses

      Further information

    1. Contact the Admissions Department for more information on the academic application process and College Open Days (01223 338703).
    2. To find out more about being a Choral Scholar and any choral aspect of your application, email Andrew Nethsingha / the Choir Office (01223 338718).