Joining the Choir

Places in the Choir are by audition. The main audition period for choral scholarships is the annual choral trials, held across the University each September. Auditions are held by the College, and applicants are also auditioned as part of a centralised system. Applicants then apply to read academic subjects offered by the College. A further audition period is held in October each year. The number of places available at each audition period varies each year, and will depend on the balance of the parts at the time. It may also be possible to join the choir at other times of the year, depending on availability. Members of other Colleges may be able to audition for available places in the Choir, and external members enjoy the same benefits as Worcester students.

For organ scholarships, entry is through the University organ trials each September. Candidates are interviewed for academic places in the University at the same time.

For more information on the central University Admissions and Awards system, please see this page on the Music Faculty’s website.

This page gives further details of the responsibilities and benefits of choral and organ scholarships at Worcester.

Choral Scholarships

Choral scholars, who are appointed by competitive audition, will gain experience in preparing and performing a wide range of service music with a high turnover of repertoire; rehearsing for and performing in concerts in Oxford, London, and elsewhere; and working on technique and solo repertoire with professional tuition.

Duties

Choral scholars are expected to attend rehearsals and services, to be available for special events and tours, and for recordings, as well as other responsibilities agreed from time to time.

All scholars receive a generous amount of professional vocal tuition, paid for by the College, and regular preparation for private lessons is expected.

Worcester is proud to offer students the resources, support and opportunity for its choral scholars to put on their own projects and performances should they wish to. Worcester College has a thriving Music Society which puts on weekly recitals to which choral scholars regularly contribute. In recent years this has involved concerto performances, performances with period instruments, harpsichord performances and working with a consort of voices in close harmony.

Benefits

In recognition of the commitment of a choral scholar, and to enable students to develop a wide range of skills, Worcester College provides its choral scholars with:

  • Singing lessons
  • A £200 stipend
  • Free three-course meals after each service
  • Annual tours with the choirs and regular trips within the UK and abroad

For further information, please see the Chapel website for news and details of services. The Director of Chapel Music, Thomas Allery (thomas.allery@worc.ox.ac.uk), is always pleased to hear from and meet potential candidates, and is happy to answer any questions.

Organ scholarships

The Worcester organ scholarship provides musical training and experience which is unique in Oxford and unusual in the world. Students have a real opportunity to develop all of the skills of a musician including: organ and keyboard playing, continuo realisation, conducting, working with boy trebles, and training and rehearsing a choir.

The level of responsibility offered to organ scholars and the level of commitment required to fulfil the role provides a distinctive opportunity for the life of an undergraduate student reading music. The schedule of services (four each week) and extra events means that scholars are busy performing to professional standard but there is the opportunity for students to become involved in other extra-curricular activities alongside their scholarship duties and academic work.

Duties

The life of a Worcester organ scholar is busy, varied, and demanding. Organ scholars work under the supervision of the Director of Chapel Music and are part of a closely knit team. This team provides support, training, and advice which allows students to develop all of the skills that they need in a friendly and professional environment.

The different activities of the Choir and the number of services and engagements means that the duties and responsibilities of a Worcester organ scholar falls somewhere between the college chapels entirely run by professional staff and those where an organ scholar runs the choir. By the time an organ scholar is in their third and senior year, they are able and encouraged to take a leading role in conducting, planning and training the choirs alongside the Director of Music and it is this responsibility with both the choristers and mixed choir that makes this such a unique opportunity.  The choirs at Worcester are auditioned and perform to a high standard, performing a huge span of repertoire including regular commissions.

A typical day for a Worcester organ scholar might involve (in addition to academic work): rehearsing a group of choristers, playing for Evensong, rehearsing with a choral scholar for a performance in a recital, posting something to the choir’s Twitter or Facebook page, having an organ, conducting, or singing lesson, conducting the mixed choir in Evensong.

Worcester is proud to offer students the resources, support and opportunity for its organ scholars to put on their own projects and performances should they wish to. Worcester College has a thriving Music Society which puts on weekly recitals to which the organ scholars regularly contribute (often as accompanists). In recent years this has involved concerto performances, playing continuo with period instruments, harpsichord performances and working with a consort of voices in close harmony.

Benefits

In recognition of the commitment of an organ scholar, and to enable students to develop a wide range of skills, Worcester College provides its organ scholars with:

  • Organ lessons
  • Conducting lessons
  • Singing lessons
  • A £200 stipend
  • A large suite of rooms in College with a piano
  • Free three-course meals after each service
  • Financial support towards study trips
  • Separate guidance and tuition towards organ diplomas
  • Annual tours with the choirs and regular trips within the UK and abroad

An organ scholarship at Worcester College provides a level of professional training which can lead to many careers. Although many of Worcester’s organ scholars have gone on to work directly in church music, former organ scholars of Worcester College have pursued careers in conducting, performing, teaching, academia, and various roles in the recording and broadcasting industries. Organ scholars in recent have left to take up positions and scholarships at Westminster Abbey and Wells, Worcester, Salisbury, Canterbury, and Ely Cathedrals.

The Director of Chapel Music, Thomas Allery (thomas.allery@worc.ox.ac.uk) is always pleased to hear from and meet potential candidates, and is happy to answer any questions.