The ‘Mann’ Organ Scholarship was founded in 1931 in memory of A.H. Mann, College Organist 1876-1929.
The Organ Scholar acts as a 'cathedral assistant', playing for services, taking a part in training the choristers and probationers, and rehearsing and conducting the full choir.
With the exception of some tonal alterations and the addition of modern performance aids, the four manual Harrison and Harrison organ is essentially the instrument built by Arthur Harrison in the 1930s, alongside his projects at Westminster Abbey and the Royal Albert Hall. There is also a small chamber organ in Chapel and a tracker-action instrument (two manuals and pedals) available for practice at the College School.
As with the Choral Scholars, the Organ Scholars receive fees for ‘extra’ performing duties which supplement the student grant and the organ scholarship. Additionally, the College pays for lessons in organ playing and improvisation, singing and Alexander Technique.
On tour in the USA, 2013
The Organ Scholars accompany the Choir on its touring programme, which affords the opportunity of playing many interesting instruments throughout the world. Recent organ scholars have played the instruments at the Sydney Opera House, the great organ in Riga Cathedral, the famous Müller organ at St Bavo in Haarlem, the new Mander organ at St Ignatius Loyola, New York City, and the newly restored instrument at the Royal Albert Hall. The post also provides opportunities for continuo-playing, notably with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Usually the Organ Scholar reads for the Music Tripos, but all other subjects can be studied, except Medicine and Architecture.
Former Organ Scholars with Stephen Cleobury (L to R: Ashley Grote, James Vivian, Robert Quinney, Stephen Cleobury, Dan Hyde, Tom Winpenny)
The Organ Scholarship at King's is a preparation for many different career paths in the musical profession. In the field of cathedral and church music, former organ scholars currently direct the music at Durham and Gloucester Cathedrals, Trinity College, Cambridge, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Temple Church in London.
A number, such as Sir Andrew Davis and Richard Farnes, go into conducting careers, while others, such as Simon Preston, Thomas Trotter, David Briggs, and David Goode, have forged international careers as solo players. The most recent holders are to be found in assistant positions at Westminster Abbey and the Cathedrals of St Albans, Durham and Gloucester.
Organ Scholar on tour
Stephen Cleobury, Organist and Director of Music, encourages all potential Organ Scholars to come to see him at any time before the auditions. When they visit, he will hear them play, talk to them in detail about the organ scholar's life and work, and advise them on how to approach the audition and interview process.