Jump to Navigation

Profiles

Subject: Music Voice: Tenor
School: Uppingham School Gap year: Yes

Why did you want a choral scholarship?

Because I loved singing in the choir at school and it was recommended to me by my singing teacher.

Why did you choose King’s?

One of best friends at school was a King’s chorister and so jealousy drove me to go one up on him, but I was also drawn in by the wide public image and some great recordings.

Why Cambridge?

Singing at King’s and going to Cambridge are obviously part of the same package so there was nowhere else.

What experience did you have before joining the Choir?

My school Chapel Choir only sang once a week and only an anthem at that; the Chamber Choir sang more difficult repertoire but rarely in a liturgical context. The Eton Choral Courses were my first introduction to liturgical singing. The majority of my prior experience came in my gap year, which I spent as a choral scholar in Truro.

How did you find the application process?

It was lengthy and tricky at times but at the same time extremely exciting.

How did you find the auditions?

The auditions were obviously high pressure but such a special moment when you think how close you are to your goal!

Do you have to give up a lot of time for Choir?

I don’t see it as time given up as it becomes an integral part of your life; just the same as getting up in the morning or eating lunch.

How does it affect your work?

If I didn’t have Evensong in the evening I don’t think I would work that much more – I would just take longer doing it! With less time to do your work you are forced to be more efficient with your time.

…and your social life?

There is plenty of time for socialising. For a start the choir becomes your primary social group: your family almost. Other than that I find I have more than enough time to have dinner with people, go out in the evening, etc. King’s is naturally a really social place – and that’s helped by the fact that the bar, cafe and Hall are really close together: if you go there you’re bound to find someone to hang out with.

Phil

What’s the music like? Do you have to sight-read a lot?

We do a great variety of music from Gregorian chant and Dunstable through to contemporary commissions, which we are lucky to get a lot of. Knowing that we’re the first choir to sing a piece of music is a great privilege, and you realise how much that first performance can shape the composer’s outlook on their composition. Sight-reading is a daily joy and whatever your starting ability you will get better!

Do you get paid?

One of the perks – concerts, recordings, tours, broadcasts and extra services all help keep the current account buoyant.

Any other perks?

By your second year you can be guaranteed a large room with a piano in it. You also get to sing in one of the world’s most iconic buildings often performing with some of the world’s best soloists and ensembles.

What’s the best thing about singing at King’s?

For me it’s simple but beautiful. Plainsong. A rare art these days.

…and the worst?

Not having as much time at home as I might otherwise get.

What other music do you do at Cambridge other than Choir?

I sing in various student organised consorts and choirs. I also play the cello in various college orchestras. I am currently Assistant Musical Director for a production of the Magic Flute. This academic year I am secretary of the College music society (KCMS) and so I am organising the year’s concerts, some of which I will be conducting. I also plan to put on an opera next term with the opera society (CUOS).

Do you have time for anything else?

I play mixed Netball for the College and frequent Scandinavia by bicycle.

Subject: History Voice: Tenor
School: Trinity, Croydon Gap year: Yes

Why did you want a choral scholarship?

I had enjoyed my experience of singing at school and was aware of all the opportunities a choral scholarship offers.

Why did you choose King’s?

I did umm and err a bit before choosing King’s, mainly because of the huge commitment and a lack of confidence in my abilities. But then I had the opportunity to meet Stephen Cleobury, and a couple of present choral scholars. Ultimately I had to apply for the best!

Why Cambridge?

I wanted to go to the best university in the world to study history. King’s also has a great reputation for history, which was a bonus.

What experience did you have before joining the Choir?

As a treble I sang opera and oratorio roles throughout Britain and Europe, prancing around stage as a fairy, boy king, or general child. After the inevitable voice break I sang in my school choir (one service a month), and eventually joined Croydon Parish Church a couple of months before applying to King’s to get a bit more experience.

Did you do any choral experience on your gap year?

I spent my year in Princeton, New Jersey, where I sang at Trinity Church Princeton, directed the Choir of the Episcopal Church at Princeton University, and sang with the Ivy League’s oldest co-ed a capella group – the Princeton Katzenjammers. I also sang with the Choir of St Thomas’ 5th Ave in NYC.

How did you find the application process?

Both Stephen Cleobury and my director of music at school were great at making this clear – it can be a bit intimidating at first glance!

How did you find the auditions?

They were pretty disastrous from start to finish. I skipped lines in my prepared solo piece, made mistakes in both sight reading tests, and was pretty bad at identifying notes in a chord. I haven’t quite got over it yet.

Do you have to give up a lot of time for Choir?

There is no getting around this one. Every day (excluding Monday) from about 4pm till 6pm I’m in chapel. On top of this there are regular recordings, concerts and tours. It is a big commitment.

How does it affect your work?

As a historian my workload is fairly simple – one essay a week. I generally find I have plenty of time to read as widely as one can in a week and write the essay without too much stress. I managed to get a first at the end of the year, so I’m confident that I’m on top of it all.

…and your social life?

Cambridge life is always a balance, but there is plenty of time for eating out, going to see shows, and checking out the nightlife (just maybe not on Saturday nights)!

Joel

Do you have to sight-read a lot?

The Choir explores an extraordinary variety of choral music throughout the year. About 90% of it was new to me in my first year. As a fairly weak sight-reader I found it useful to take any tricky music home to play through on the piano (or listen to recordings) before the rehearsal. By my second and third year a good proportion of the repertoire is repeated, which means more time in the pub.

Do you get paid?

We get fees for our concerts, tours and broadcasts, which are pretty regular throughout the year. It does add up! Getting paid to travel around the world is pretty cool too. We also make a fair bit on the side, singing as a close harmony group – the King’s Men.

Any other perks?

As a tenor I get free singing lessons with Justin Lavender, who teaches at the Royal College of Music, and is fantastic! My voice has come on hugely with his training. My Alexander lesson is the most relaxing 30 minutes of my week, and has lots of benefits for singing. The sheet music fund has also bought me some sweet scores.

What’s the best thing about singing at King’s?

The not infrequent chills that go down my spine when we get it ‘just right’. Candle-light, the Chapel, and some amazing music. There’s nothing like it.

…and the worst?

Plainsong solos are always scary!

What other music do you do at Cambridge other than Choir?

In the first four weeks of the winter term this year alone I’ve sung Peter Warlock’s ‘The Curlew’ at a CUMS lunchtime recital, competed in (and won) the Pembroke Lieder Competition, and played Tamino on CUOS’s production of ‘The Magic Flute’. I like to keep busy! The King’s Men also perform about 60 times a year, be it concerts, dinners, parties or weddings. Singing Carly Rae Jepsen with the guys you normally sing Byrd with is pretty fun.

Do you have time for anything else?

I like to keep fit, so I try to go to the college gym, or cycle. It’s nice to have a bit of down time too, so watching Bake Off, and going to Granchester for tea are essentials.

What have you gained from the choral scholarship?

It’s given so many opportunities and experiences, most of which I’ve shared with a great bunch of guys with whom I’ll probably reminisce in 50 years.

Subject: Music Voice: Countertenor
School: Hereford Cathedral School Gap year: No

Why did you want a choral scholarship?

I have enjoyed singing since I was very young, and a choral scholarship seemed like the best way to continue singing regularly while studying at university.

Why did you choose King’s?

I wanted a taste of life as a professional singer. It is pretty much the only choir in the world where you can experience serious professional singing work while still a student. Also, the College, the Chapel and grounds are an amazing environment to live in!

Why Cambridge?

It’s a great university, with a great reputation. It’s also a beautiful city, and with the thriving musical scene there are so many things to get involved in all the time.

What experience did you have before joining the Choir?

I was lucky to have been a chorister at Hereford Cathedral when I was younger, and to have got some professional singing experience while in my sixth form – this all helped me decide that I wanted to carry on with my singing. I found that I’d had more experience than a lot of the other guys when they arrived with me.

How did you find the application process?

It’s obviously always going to be scary, but once all the forms are done and handed in you can pretty much forget it. My only advice would be to choose a good photo of yourself to submit to the university during your application, as they don’t warn you quite how much it comes back to haunt you…

How did you find the auditions?

They were difficult, but that’s the nature of them. Stephen Cleobury pushes you as far as you can go so that he can understand your capability and potential. But he was very understanding of how stressful the whole business is!

Do you have to give up a lot of time for Choir?

Yes. There’s no way round this one. It is a big commitment. But it’s easy to get used to. It’s just built into my daily schedule and I haven’t known any different. And if you really enjoy singing, it won’t feel like a chore giving up your time for it.

How does it affect your work?

Yes; for the better. It makes me work more efficiently. The old adage ‘if you want a job done, ask a busy person’ really is true. The commitment the Choir demands means that you have certain windows of time to get work done, so it’s pretty straightforward planning when to crack on with it.

…and your social life?

What social life? I joke. There’s no affecting that! The pubs and bars of Cambridge have lots of my money, and no doubt they’ll be getting more of it.

Pat

What’s the music like? Do you have to sight-read a lot?

The music is a big mixture. Because of the volume of services we do, there are some less exciting pieces in the repertoire, which allow us time to learn great new repertoire – so it’s swings and roundabouts. There is a fair amount of sight-reading, but there’s always enough time to learn things before services or concerts.

Do you get paid?

Yes! What I said about having professional experience as a student extends to pay too. The best part of being paid for Choir is when you go on tour all over the world, and come back richer than when you went out. The choral scholars’ close-harmony group The King’s Men also provides a healthy amount of pocket money through the year.

What’s the best thing about singing at King’s?

Apart from singing in the most beautiful building in the world every day? Well, it’s not bad being TV a few times a year! I’ve already mentioned the incredible touring, The King’s Men, and making recordings is good fun too…

…and the worst?

It is pretty difficult finding time to visit my wonderful girlfriend, Clare, as I’m required to be in Cambridge all the time! But she understands the nature of the job and we make it work.

What other music do you do at Cambridge other than Choir?

I’ve got really involved in many of the concerts going on all the time in Cambridge. I’ve done my first opera roles, sung in small vocal consorts, huge choruses, and played in orchestras. In fact I am writing these answers in an idle part of a rehearsal for a production of Mozart’s Magic Flute, and that kind of says it all!

Do you have time for anything else?

Time is a very precious commodity in term-time Cambridge, but if you really want to get something done, there’ll always be a way it can happen. I like to try and go to the local climbing wall at least once a week, to keep sane and vaguely in shape! But I’m not the best example: last year we had a rugby Blue (University 1st team) in the choir – and that’s a huge commitment!

What have you gained from the choral scholarship?

Experience. It’s all about experiences and memories. I know that I will come out of university with a huge number of stamps in my passport, more national media appearances than I’ll probably ever have in the rest of my life, and a load of really close friendships. You really can’t beat it.

Subject: Natural Sciences Voice: Alto
School: Hymers College Gap year: No

Why did you want a choral scholarship?

I've always enjoyed singing and making music, so it seemed an obvious choice.

Why did you choose King’s?

I visited Cambridge and looked around colleges and then decided that the opportunities that King's offers and the welcoming environment really appealed to me.

Why Cambridge?

Being a science student the Natural Sciences tripos attracted me a lot, and on top of that the city is a really nice place to be.

What experience did you have before joining the Choir?

I had sung in local and school choirs but my only experience of singing evensong was an Eton Choral Course and an occasional service at a local parish church.

How did you find the application process?

The application process was slightly confusing at first but, after contacting Directors of Music at colleges I was interested in, it made much more sense.

How did you find the auditions?

The auditions were slightly stressful but my main memory of the evening was being in awe of the Chapel when singing.

Do you have to give up a lot of time for Choir?

During term time the schedule is substantial, but quite consistent and so it actually adds quite a nice routine to each day. There are occasional extra things on top of the usual but I'm still able to do most of the other things I want to.

Colm

How does it affect your work?

Being a first year NatSci and a member of the Choir does mean the occasional mad dash between a practical session and a rehearsal in the chapel but even so I still manage to keep well on top of my work alongside all the singing commitments.

…and your social life?

In some ways being in the choir has enhanced my social life: there is a great team spirit within the choir and all the choral scholars get on well. Since the services end around 6:15pm on weekdays they don’t get in the way of other social activities.

What’s the music like? Do you have to sight-read a lot?

We do get through a lot of music from all types styles and there is also a lot of sight reading but the music is available in advance of the first time we sing it so you can look at pieces before we rehearse them as a choir.

Do you get paid?

We get paid for the concerts, tours and recordings we do, as well as the big services for TV and radio.

Any other perks?

We get singing lessons from one of two teachers that come into College once a fortnight and also the Choir goes all around the world on tours.

What’s the best thing about singing at King’s?

Probably the opportunity to perform with world-renowned soloists and orchestras.

…and the worst?

Sunday morning services – but they aren't too bad really.

What other music do you do at Cambridge other than Choir?

I play in the college orchestra which is a good mixture of having very talented players and a quite relaxed environment.

Do you have time for anything else?

After all my singing commitments and work is done there is still time remaining to socialise or do other activities.

Choral Scholarships | Choir