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Image of Organ Scholar playing the harpsichord
Credit: Richard Marsham

Organ scholars

The role of the Organ Scholar is to assist the Director of Music in the training of the Choirs and accompaniment of services. There are usually two Organ Scholars at Jesus College at any one time, and candidates are expected to have developed skills in organ playing to at least ABRSM Grade 8 standard.

Unique to Cambridge, the Jesus College scholarship offers the holder experience both in the training of boys' voices and those of the undergraduate men and women of the College Choir. In addition to their regular duties, Organ Scholars have many opportunities for concerts, tours, recordings and collaboration with professional instrumental ensembles. Jesus College has a large number of notable former Organ Scholars, including world-renowned Bach performer Peter Hurford, composers Robert Walker and Terence Allbright, and cathedral organists Richard Lloyd, Geraint Bowen, Malcolm Archer and James O'Donnell.

The value of a University Organ Scholarship is £450 per annum, with an additional £800 per annum for organ lessons and £450 per annum for singing lessons. Other benefits include College Feasts, reduced room rent and the same set of rooms in College for three years, which include a piano. The Chapel boasts three organs, a 2012 double-manual harpsichord and a 2006 Steinway concert grand piano, all of which are available for the unlimited use of the Organ Scholars.

Further information, including details about auditions and interviews, as well as the specifications of the Hudleston Organ at Jesus, can be found in the Choral and Organ Awards Prospectus or on the Cambridge University website.

Organ Scholarship Trials take place at the end of September, for entry the following year (or for deferred entry). During the Trials, candidates will attend formal and informal auditions, conducting auditions and academic interviews. After the Trials have finished, full academic offers will be made to successful applicants, while unsuccessful applicants will be free to pursue their academic application in December. If you would be interested in playing to the Director of Music, or in attending a rehearsal or service, please contact the Choir Administrator.

Organ Scholar Profile

Jordan (third-year Classics student):

The organ scholarship at Jesus is unique as you get to work with both the College choir (Mixed) and the Chapel choir (which consists of the men and choristers). Because of that we could be immersed in a great depth and breadth of repertoire, to which our Hudleston organ is very suitable; a baroque plenum sounds just as good as a sonorous romantic sound. It is always quite an exciting privilege when we get to use all three wonderful organs in a single evensong at the oldest college chapel in Cambridge. Tours are always highlights of our time in the Choir, in my first year alone we went to France, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Switzerland! As a Classics student, I like the split between studying my subject and doing something I enjoy, both at a high level; and the environment and people at Jesus make it even greater an experience! The Choir forms a close community with people who share similar interests, which is really comforting.

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