Becoming an Organ Scholar
St John’s has two Organ Scholars at any one time. Their duties are both to accompany the College Choir, and to assist in the training of the Choristers, sometimes taking morning rehearsals at St John’s College School, conducting services from time to time.
A candidate for the Organ Scholarship should have a solid organ technique, good sight-reading, and the ability to improvise musically. A candidate should also have an enthusiasm for choir training and for enabling the boys and men to perform at a high technical and musical level.
The College encourages the performance of new repertoire and there is a fund available for the purchase of organ music. In addition the College’s commitment to new music means that Organ Scholars have the opportunity to give first performances of new works by leading composers.
The Chapel organ was built by the British firm N.P. Mander Ltd in 1994, using the cases designed by J. Oldrid Scott in 1889. It has four manuals and pedal and is well equipped with a palette of colours - including a trompeta real - to accompany the Choir in daily sung services and to perform a broad range of repertoire.
Organ Scholarships are open to both men and women. The College pays for organ lessons and substantial performance fees are paid for the many ‘extra’ services and concerts which are undertaken by the Choir. Organ Scholars also benefit from playing continuo with professional orchestras and ensembles. Funds are also available to support Organ Scholars working towards their ARCO and FRCO examinations.
Most former Organ Scholars have gone on to pursue high profile musical careers - Stephen Cleobury, John Scott, David Hill, Andrew Lumsden, Adrian Lucas and Iain Farrington, as well as current Director of Music Andrew Nethsigha, were all Organ Scholars at St John’s. A full list of former Organ Scholars can be found on the Choir’s website.
Further information about Cambridge Organ Scholarships can be found on the University Organ Awards pages.To find out more about being a Organ Scholar and any musical aspect of your application, email Andrew Nethsingha or you can call the Choir Office on 01223 338718. We can also arrange for prospective Organ Scholars to meet our Admissions Tutor to discuss which subjects you might wish to study.