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Undergraduate Study


Organ Scholarships in Cambridge offer unparalleled opportunities to talented organists who wish to develop their skills significantly during the period of their academic studies. The College Chapels in Cambridge contain some of the finest organs in the UK, providing a superb facility for those holding these awards.

Organ Scholars are appointed by Colleges to play the organ for chapel services and to direct or assist in the work of the choir. The chapel music environment in Cambridge is extremely varied, offering scope not only for outstanding work in chapel contexts but also for external activities such as foreign tours, concerts, broadcasts and recordings. 

Most Colleges have two Organ Scholars (a 'Junior' and a 'Senior') in residence at any one time. In all participating Colleges, the Organ Scholars’ duties are centred around providing music in the College chapel, and Organ Scholars are usually expected to commit themselves to general music-making in the College as well.

The precise nature of an Organ Scholarship can vary considerably from College to College; in some Colleges, chapel duties include acting as an Assistant Organist to a full-time professional Director of Music - accompanying the choir in regular services, concerts, and professional tours and engagements - while the Director of Music does most of the conducting of the choir, and all of the administration. In other Colleges, duties are shared between a part-time professional Director of Music and the two Organ Scholars, with playing, conducting, and administrative duties distributed equally amongst the three, or sometimes with the two Organ Scholars doing the bulk of the work, closely overseen by the Director of Music. In a few other Colleges the Organ Scholars are entirely responsible for the recruitment, training, conducting, accompanying, and administration of their chapel choirs (usually in consultation with a Dean or Chaplain).

Obviously, different skills are required for the various types of Organ Scholarship, and there is a significant difference in the time commitment required as well: for example, there are seven services per week to be accompanied by the King’s and St John’s Organ Scholars, and only one service per week for those at Fitzwilliam and Downing.

For this reason, Organ Scholarship applicants submit a preference list of Colleges within their application which reflects their wishes regarding the type(s) of Organ Scholarship for which they wish to be considered. You should think carefully about your skills (organ-playing, conducting, administrative), and about your aspirations, as you draw up your preference list: there is wealth of opportunities on offer here, and you will want to take full advantage of those that are particularly suited to your expertise and musical aspirations. Once you have chosen the type of Organ Scholarship you are interested in, it is advisable to list as many Colleges in your preferences as you can, in order to maximise your chances of gaining a scholarship.

The roles, duties, and perks of the holder of the Organ Scholarship at each of the participating Colleges are outlined in a separate booklet available to download (see 'Choral and Organ Awards guides').

In all Colleges, the Organ Scholar receives a small financial award each year (£450 per year). In addition to this, participating Colleges also provide free organ lessons with internationally renowned teachers. In most Colleges the Organ Scholar is also given a piano in his/her room; other perks, including subsidised meals and choir tours, are determined by the individual Colleges.

All Organ Scholars are also automatically members of the inter-collegiate Organ Scholars’ Forum (OSF). The Forum organises regular master-classes in playing and choral conducting, as well as discussion sessions with professional organists from cathedrals and other positions.

Organ Scholarships film


Mr Andrew Arthur
Organ Scholarships Co-ordinator
Director of Music
Trinity Hall
Cambridge CB2 1TJ
T 01223 332549

Organ Scholarship Open Day

PDF icon Draft open day timetable 2024

Our next Organ Scholarship Open Day will be on Tuesday 5 March 2024. Applications have now closed. 

Related Documents

Organ Awards guides