Fitzwilliam College usually has two organ scholars, a Senior and a Junior, who share the playing, conducting and running of the choir between them under the guidance of the Director of Music, Catherine Groom.
The Fitzwilliam Chapel Choir provides a wonderful opportunity for its Organ Scholars as it particularly welcomes candidates who are keen to develop their musical directing and conducting skills. Organ Scholars can take an active role in the running of the Chapel Choir and have the opportunity to conduct both at services and formal events at the College and across the University. Working with the Director of Music, Catherine Groom, Organ Scholars are able to determine a balance between organ playing and musical direction that matches their interests and desired focus.
Fitzwilliam has a tradition of Organ Scholars, for their Senior year, composing a new setting for the College Grace which is performed at formal events in College. In addition to the £450 per annum scholarship, Organ Scholars receive fully subsidised lessons on organ with the teacher(s) of their choice (scholars usually learn with a visiting teacher from London or travel to London to study) and also have free regular conducting lessons from the Director of Music, Catherine Groom, an experienced conductor and conducting researcher. From 2014-15 Organ Scholars will also benefit from conducting and choral workshops with visiting musician Matthew Waldren.
Current Organ Scholars have enjoyed many opportunities to accompany soloists, including visiting professionals such as members of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, in both workshop and performance across Cambridge. Organ Scholars are also eligible for free singing lessons with visiting teacher Sarah Leonard (who teaches all Fitzwilliam-based members of the Chapel Choir) with a particular focus on understanding vocal technique for conducting and accompanying.
How to become an Organ Scholar at Fitzwilliam College
Organ Scholars at Fitzwilliam are normally elected through the Intercollegiate Organ Scholar Scheme and read for a wide variety of degrees. However, graduate students are encouraged to contact Catherine Groom, the Director of Music, to discuss the different application pathway. The Organ Scholars are always students at Fitzwilliam College but the college has some provision for accepting non-Fitzwilliam organists who have an academic place at another college. Fitzwilliam is, in these cases, usually able to provide free organ lessons and all of the conducting coaching and support that are given to Fitzwilliam Organ Scholars. Prospective applicants, both those considering undergraduate and graduate degrees, are warmly welcomed to contact the Director of Music, Catherine Groom firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss role of Organ Scholar at Fitzwilliam or to organise a visit to the college.
The Organ & Chapel
The modern chapel was designed by Sir Richard McCormac in 1990 and houses an excellent two-manual organ by Peter Collins as well as a Bechstein grand piano.