Organ Scholar: 2013-2016
Course: BA Music (undergraduate three-year course)
From: Wiltshire – Godolphin School
Living in: Main College
Monday: This morning I do some organ practice to go through the music for Sunday and identify any problem areas. After lunch I have a conducting lesson with Paul Spicer, which proves to be extremely useful. We spend virtually the entire lesson on a psalm and some tricky responses, so I feel much better prepared for when I take the service next week. I then rush back for my analysis tute (tutorial), in which I discover all the things I could have put in my essay...
Tuesday: Today is fairly commitment free, so I’m able to get the reading done for my next history essay. We also have the delight of our weekly organ scholar’s meeting with Megan, our chaplain. These are always accompanied by coffee from the SCR and biscuits, as we discuss the previous and upcoming services, although it usually ends up turning into a general chat. Today we also discuss venues for the annual choir tour in the summer (this year to Vienna and Bratislava).
Wednesday: Today 8am seems to come round much too soon as I get up for our two hour 9am lecture for composition on New Music. This turns out to be worth the effort, as it is highly interesting, and serves as a stark contrast to the next lecture on Polyphony for Plainchant. My essay deadline is 5pm today, so the main task for the afternoon is to finish this. Inevitably the email is sent at 4.56; still it’s earlier than my friend who submits his at 4.58! This evening, I take advantage of lack of essay to go to a free chamber music concert in the Holywell Music Room.
Thursday: Thursdays are usually quite busy for me. The tutor in my hip-hop tute seems quite pleased with my essay (phew!) and we all get into a very in depth discussion about how the political situation has affected hip-hop in Cuba. This is followed by a psychology of music lecture, which proves very informative. 4.30 is choir practice where we look at music for the coming Sunday. We know the music fairly well so there is a jovial, light-hearted atmosphere. This is followed by the Eucharist service, in which I play a hymn on the piano. The service always has a lovely relaxed feel with student preachers. I then head off to the University Wind Orchestra rehearsal (in which I play the French horn) followed by a trip to G and Ds (an ice cream cafe) with friends from the orchestra on the way home.
Friday: This morning I have to get up fairly early so that we can go and collect the timpani from the Music Faculty in preparation for the TSAF (Turl Street Arts Festival) opening concert tomorrow evening (which the Turl Street organ scholars organise/ conduct). This turns out to be a highly amusing and noisy task as we attempt to drag the trolley up St Aldate’s hill. This is followed by the weekly keyboard skills ritual (...), with the rest of the day then free to try and make some headway with my composition, and deal with the rather large pile of laundry that has appeared in my room. This evening I go to Formal Hall (a three course meal which scholars can attend for free on Wednesdays and Fridays, and which the choir can attend for free after services) which is good fun with rather nice food.
Saturday: Today is the day of the concert so a large proportion of the day seems to be taken up by the various choral and orchestral rehearsals, although I manage to squeeze some organ practice in between. The concert is a lovely chance for all three choirs to join up and sing different repertoire to evensong, and gives them the opportunity to sing with a high-quality orchestra. I enjoy the chance to play continuo and actually sing for once and James (my Senior Organ Scholar) has lots of fun conducting Bach’s Magnificat.
Sunday: For many, Sunday is the lazy day of the week, with a lie-in until brunch, but for me, the focus is Evensong. Rehearsals start at 4, with free choir tea and chocolate/ cake between the rehearsal and service itself. This is followed by sherry and free formal hall. James reads the grace. There is generally an attempt to read it as fast as possible without losing clarity. He narrowly beats his record of 17 seconds. Many decamp to the bar for pub quiz after Formal, but my friends watch a film in my room instead (one of the numerous advantages of being an organ scholar is you get one of the largest sets of rooms in college for all three years, which is extremely useful). It’s a good way to unwind after a busy day, and I now feel ready to face the week ahead.