Jesus College welcomes applicants as Organ Scholars to begin study as undergraduates in the following October.
Following a recent round of auditions, the next Organ Award to be made will be for entry in October 2020.
There are at least two undergraduate Organ Scholars at any one time. Applicants will be academically capable of gaining a place to read Law, Music, Modern Languages, Modern Languages and Linguistics, History, or Engineering; and musically capable of playing the Jesus College Chapel Organ to a good standard. They will be eager to commit to further training and development in Organ and Conducting studies, and to contribute fully to the musical life both of the Chapel and the College as a whole.
Jesus Organ Scholars take a lead in directing the Chapel Music themselves, and do so with the wholehearted support and careful supervision of the Chaplain (a former Choral Scholar). Other highly-qualified musicians and organists who are members of our College community are also on hand to assist if need be. Organ Scholars also therefore get the opportunity to build a portfolio of highly transferable skills involving recruitment of musicians, communications, events organisation, music programming, social development, and basic administration, all as part of a team.
The Organ is an historically informed instrument, built in the early 19th century English style by the leading UK organ builder William Drake in 1993. A refined instrument with sensitive action and musical voicing, it is kept in excellent condition, with significant maintenance works completed in 2016. It is a superb organ for practice and to enhance technique, as well as sparkling in performance both on a secular level and in the worship offered in the Chapel. A grand piano and a harpsichord by Goble (1975) are also available for use in the Chapel. A music practice room with grand and upright pianos may be booked during music hours.
The John Wellingham Organ Studies Library for the University opened here in Jesus in March 2017 and provides easy access for our organ scholars to a range of scores and musical literature that would often be beyond a student’s pocket.
The Choir is led by the organ scholars with considerable support from the Chaplain. Rather than offering choral scholarships to a select few, the College provides free singing lessons every week during term time to anyone who wishes to join the choir, ensure that each member can benefit from such training. The Choir sings at Sunday Choral Evensong, a few occasional services, and one or two special events throughout the year, with two rehearsals a week. Choir tours take place every year, most recently in 2018 to Georgia with an ambassadorial invitation. In recent years we have also toured to Italy, Hong Kong and China, the Channel Islands, and are now planning our 2019 tour to Germany. We have just released a CD with Regent Records and plan to record a programme of Celtic choral music (reflecting our Welsh heritage) in 2019. As a team, we together maintain both a high standard of music, and a warm, inclusive character.
The Chapel is well-attended and supportive of the music we offer. Passionate about musical outreach, and as a flagship of the Young Organ Scholars’ Trust in Oxbridge colleges, we are also looking for ways to enthuse local secondary school students about music. Consequently we offer a variety of further opportunities such as Choral masterclasses arranged within the College with prominent English church musicians such as Nicholas Cleobury and Kerry Beaumont. Recitals are welcomed, and Organ Scholars are further encouraged to make the most of their own individual musical skills and interests.
Each Organ Scholar receives £450 per year.
Each Organ Scholar received a generous allowance of organ and conducting lessons (which has not yet been exhausted by any of our scholars!).
At present the Organ Scholars receive lessons from both Steven Grahl and Paul Spicer respectively, and are also encouraged to take up some singing lessons as offered to the choir by David Crown.
The College also pays for each Organ Scholar to have one attempt at each of the Associateship and Fellowship Examinations of the Royal College of Organists.
As a Scholar, the holder is entitled to dine in Formal Hall free of charge on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The Organ Scholars are allocated some of the best rooms in college for the duration of his or her course, each will have an electronic piano in their rooms.
The College also buys all scholars their Scholars’ Gowns.