At any one time Caius has two Organ Scholars who play a vital role in the flourishing activities of Caius choir, accompanying and playing solo pieces for the regular services and for Radio 3 broadcasts, concerts at home and abroad, and CD recordings. As with Choral Awards, Organ Awards can only be held in conjunction with an academic place at the College. If you are interested in finding out more about applying for an Organ Award more details are available on the University website.

The principal planning and organisational work of the Chapel Choir is carried out by the Precentor, Dr Geoffrey Webber, and a Choir Administrator, and so Organ Scholars have time for the development of solo and accompanying skills to the highest standards.

The Organ Scholars also have opportunities to develop their conducting skills, both with the main choir and with the college Voluntary Choir which sings at the Communion services on Sunday mornings. In addition, the Organ Scholars take a leading role in the musical life of the College in general, often conducting a large–scale choral and orchestral work in the termly College Concert.

Facilities and Finances

The Chapel organ is a modern tracker instrument built in 1981 by Johannes Klais of Bonn. It is a versatile three–manual instrument, containing a few ranks from the previous Walker organ. The College has a new model B Steinway concert grand, and a two–manual harpsichord by Mackinnon & Waitzman, after Danzelague of 1711.

The Organ Scholars at Caius live in the central part of College for three years: the Junior Organ Scholar has rooms in St Michael’s Court with a phone and pedal piano, and the Senior Organ Scholar has rooms in Gonville Court with a phone and baby grand piano. In addition to the £450 scholarship, Organ Scholars receive a large reduction in room rent; organ lessons (with teachers such as William Whitehead, Stephen Farr, Anne Elise Smoot, and David Goode) are provided free by the College; and a financial subsidy is available for the purchase of organ music. Tutorial grants are available to those wishing to undertake organ courses both in the UK and abroad, and financial assistance is also given to those taking external qualifications (e.g. R.C.O. diplomas).

Some background

Organ Scholarships at Gonville & Caius College were established at the end of the nineteenth century, following the arrival of Charles Wood as ‘Organist Scholar’ in 1889. Since then a large number of cathedral and church organists have learnt their trade at the College, including John Sanders (formerly at Gloucester Cathedral), Martin Neary (formerly at Winchester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey), and James Thomas (currently at St Edmundsbury Cathedral), and most have proceeded to pursue a musical career in one field or another. Amongst recent graduates, all have found professional work as musicians, in jobs such as working as a repetiteur, conducting an early–music group, school teaching, and freelance organ and continuo playing.

Some organ scholars spend a gap year in a Cathedral environment before coming up. Others have preferred to take up a Cathedral scholarship after graduating. Most organ scholars read Music, and the College normally takes around 6 students to read Music each year. The Director of Studies in Music is Dr Geoffrey Webber and the composer Professor Robin Holloway is also a Fellow.

Appointments can be made at any time of the year to visit Caius and talk to Dr Webber (gaw25@cam.ac.uk). Leaflets ‘Caius College Choir’ and ‘Music at Caius’, can be obtained from the Admissions Office (admissions@cai.cam.ac.uk). The University Open Day for Organ Scholarships is normally held in May.