Organ Scholarships at Christ's

An organ scholarship at Christ's College can be a wonderful opportunity for organists who want to continue playing to a high standard and receive coaching and conducting training from experts. The commitment at Christ's is easily combined with non-musical study and also allows for involvement in many other University activities such as sport or theatre, and provides the opportunity to work with a choir of a high standard in a role of responsibility.

To get in touch with Nicholas, Tom or James please contact the choir administrator, Simon Fraser at choir.admin@christs.cam.ac.uk. They can be available for weddings, christenings and other events and are happy to answer queries from potential applicants.

 

​Senior Organ Scholar: Nicholas Edwards Nicholas Edwards

Nicholas is a first-year MML student, studying German and Russian. 

He began playing the organ at the age of 13, taking lessons with Philip Scriven. In 2013, he joined the Royal Grammar School, Guildford as the King’s Music Scholar, where he was actively involved in musical life, playing piano and clarinet in addition to the organ, as well as singing. During his time at the RGS, he studied the organ with Joseph McHardy. He has accompanied the school chamber choir (jointly with the choir of Guildford High School) in evensongs, including at St Paul’s Cathedral. Nicholas was awarded first prize in the senior category of the London Organ Competition in 2017. 

Besides music, he enjoys sport, particularly playing and following football.

 

 

 

Organ Scholar: James Tett

James is a nineteen year old organist and violinist, an RCM Scholar, who studies with Professors David Graham and Ani Schnarch.

Photo of James Tett
Photo by Chris Christodloulou

James started organ lessons with Tim Wakerell at St Paul’s Cathedral School, before being awarded a music scholarship to Westminster School. As a school organist James played regularly for school services including in Westminster Abbey and was the organist for the 2017 school performance of Saint Saens’ ‘Organ’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor at St John’s Smith Square. 2019 has seen James give organ recitals at Brentwood, Bristol and Truro Cathedrals, at the East of England Organ Day at the Royal Hospital School, at St Clement Danes Church and with the Alton Organ Society. James is a regular at ‘Oundle for Organists’ and was awarded recital prizes on two consecutive years. He is the recipient of the George-Thalben Ball Cup at the Suffolk Festival of Performing Arts and has participated in masterclasses with Thomas Trotter and Daniel Moult.

In addition James was a violinist at the Junior department of the Royal College of Music, where he won the prestigious Angela Bull Memorial Prize and won the Westminster Young Musician of the Year prize. James is a Natural Scientist and also enjoys chess, table tennis and cycling.

Organ Scholar: Tom Burrows

About the position: Jonathan Ellse, Organ Scholar 2012-2016, says:

"Being an organ scholar at Christ's has been great fun – I've found it a great break from studying Maths and a really enjoyable and high quality musical experience too. We're fortunate to have an enthusiastic Director of Music, who manages to get through large quantities of music at a very high standard whilst maintaining a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. He ordinarily conducts most (but not all) of the twice-weekly term time services. This means that the organ scholars get to focus initially on playing, whilst honing their conducting skills when he is away. It's a nice balance between having enough time to get through degree work, time for practising and opportunity to hone conducting and directing skills. Whilst the time commitment is relatively low with only two services per week, the choir is still of a very high standard, sight-reading through 8-part works with ease.

The organ at Christ's is not the largest in Cambridge, but it is really well balanced for the space and incredibly flexible. Whilst most suited to Baroque repertoire, the addition of a balanced swell recently has made it at home in any style, for accompanying or solo work. The choir sings a range of music right through from Byrd to Britten and Howells and later, and the organ is easily up to the job of accompanying them. The variety of music performed is a big plus. Outside term, we sing a couple of larger works over the course of the year, for example Mozart's Requiem and Bach's St. John Passion. We also do a series of Christmas concerts at London venues and stately homes.

Christ's has also built up a reputation in Cambridge for the quality of its international tours. Every summer, we go away for around three weeks to some far-flung (and otherwise unobtainable) place, travelling and singing concerts in each location, whilst managing to fit in some sight-seeing too. In my three years, we've been to the USA, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand. It's a particularly good experience for the organ scholars – we spend the first part of the tour accompanying the choir and familiarising ourselves with the music under the direction of the Director of Music, before taking control of the musical side of things when he leaves. There's an organ solo in most of the concerts, so we get a chance to try out some bigger works on some fantastic and world-renowned instruments. It's heavily subsidised too, making it a really cheap holiday! The organ scholars don't have to do the organising of the tours either, so it's more relaxed than elsewhere.

As for provision of the organ scholars in Christ's, the organ scholars' rooms are luxurious, being furnished with a practice organ and a piano. Christ's as a college is really supportive of its musicians and goes out of its way to make life manageable for them. I've always found the college authorities as well as the Director of Music friendly, supportive and open to suggestions, which has made it a great place to be."