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. Organ Scholars will sometimes taking morning rehearsals at St John’s College School and conduct 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. They 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. The College’s commitment to new music means that Organ Scholars have the opportunity to give first performances of new works by leading composers.

Organ Scholars also receive free Singing Lessons with the College's Vocal Consultant, David Lowe. 

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. You can find a full specification here.

Organ Scholarships are open to both men and women.  The College pays for organ and improvisation 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 Nethsingha, were all Organ Scholars at St John’s.  A full list of former Organ Scholars can be found on the Choir’s website.

Here's a short feature of our Junior Organ Scholar James Anderson-Besant, taken as he began his time here at St John's:

How to apply for an Organ Scholarship

We currently have an Organ Scholar vacancy for entry in 2020 or 21.

1 September 2019: Deadline for Organ Scholarship Applications
25-28 September 2019: University Organ Trials and academic interviews in Cambridge
15 October 2019, 6.00pm UK time: Deadline to submit your UCAS Application.


by Sunday 1 September 2019 
(late applications will not be considered).

Applicants must submit a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application, including an academic and musical reference. A full guide on how to apply for an Organ Scholarship is available here.

How to apply for an Organ Scholarship


25-28 September 2019 

The Organ Trials in 2019 will take place from Wednesday 25 to Saturday 28 September. The Trials consist of organ playing auditions, academic interviews and a range of musical tests. Information about the Organ Trials and auditions can be found below. Applicants will receive the decision of both the Organ Trials and academic interviews in late September/early October.

Information about the Organ Trials Information about the Auditions


by 15 October 2019, 6.00pm (UK time) 

In order to apply to Cambridge for 2020 entry (or deferred entry in 2021), you must submit a UCAS application by 15 October 2019, 6.00pm (UK time). More information about how to submit your UCAS Application is available here.

How to submit your UCAS Application

If you are unsuccessful in securing an Organ Scholarship place, you may wish to either withdraw your application or continue as a standard applicant (you may be asked to return to Cambridge for an academic interview in late November of December).

Further information about Cambridge Organ Scholarships can be found on the University Organ Scholarships pages.


Contact Us

To learn more about being an Organ Scholar and any musical aspect of your application:

Email Andrew Nethsingha at
Call the Choir Office on 01223 338178

We can also arrange for prospective Organ Scholars to meet our Admissions Tutor to discuss which subjects you might wish to study.

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Latest webcast

Recorded on
26 May 2019


Introit: Byrd  Gloria Tibi Domine
Tye: Missa Euge Bone
Gradual: Psalm 68 vv. 1–10 (tone v)
Preacher: The Chaplain 
Credo: VI
Hymns 239, 494 (tune 413)
Voluntary: Tomkins A Substantial Verse

Latest news

St John's College Organ

We are delighted to welcome back so many former St John’s Organ Students during a 15-month celebration of the Chapel’s 150th anniversary.

They have gone on to a variety of distinguished careers which include Church Music, Teaching, Opera, Composing and Arranging, Academia, Orchestral and Choral Conducting, Organ and Piano playing.

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer