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 Gabriel or Edward please contact the choir administrator, Maisie Hulbert at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can be available for weddings, christenings and other events and are happy to answer queries from potential applicants.
Senior Organ Scholar: Gabriel Harley
Gabriel is a third-year Music student, and started learning the organ at around age thirteen, learning with Gerard Brooks at Latymer Upper School. In the year before coming to Cambridge, he undertook an organ scholarship at St. Anne's Church, Kew. In Cambridge, Gabriel has studied for two years with Gordon Stewart, and now studies with Margaret Phillips.
Assistant Organist: Edward Lilley
Edward is a second-year PhD student in astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy. He began his musical career at the age of seven as a chorister in King's College Choir, where he began learning the organ aged eleven. Since then he has studied with David Sanger and Douglas Hollick (with whom he also has harpsichord lessons). During his undergraduate years in Cambridge he was organ scholar of the chapel at Churchill College.
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."