Clare College Cambridge

Choral Exhibition and Organ Scholarships


Choir of Clare College

A Choral Exhibition or Organ Scholarship at Clare offers enormous opportunities to develop an individual’s singing or organ playing, to learn a wide variety of music, to make recordings and to travel. The following notes describe what is involved in holding these scholarships, and how to apply for them.


A choral or organ award may last up to three years. Only in exceptional circumstances (eg, if academic pressure necessitates it) will an exhibitioner or scholar relinquish the award.


There are 3 regular services:

Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday – Choral Evensong

Additionally, choral compline is sung twice a term and there is usually at least one Choral Eucharist. Extra services, such as Advent Carol services, All Souls and Ash Wednesday vigils, weddings, funerals, memorial services etc., occur once or twice a term.

Except in special circumstances, members of the choir sing all services.


On average five hours a week, plus extra rehearsals in preparation for special events. Members of the choir and organ scholars attend all rehearsals, except in exceptional circumstances.

Additional commitments

Concerts, recordings, tours, visits to college livings, etc., take place regularly throughout the year. Choir members can expect to give up some time each vacation (a week or so at Christmas and Easter and about three weeks in the summer, usually in July or September). Occasional visits are made during term, which may involve missing some lectures and the rearrangement of supervisions. In such instances, attendance is voluntary, and subject to Directors of Studies' approval.

Singing lessons

Singing lessons are provided, free of charge to both Choral and Organ Scholars, by a number of visiting teachers.

Support to general College music

Choral exhibitioners and organ scholars are required to play a full part in College music. In particular, they are expected to support the College Choral society which gives one or two performances per year.


On average a choral exhibitioner may expect to put in up to twelve or thirteen hours per week during term, and extra in a week where there is a major concert or recording. The organ scholar, bearing in mind the number of accompaniments and solo repertoire that must be learnt, may expect to spend further time on his/her duties.


Choral exhibitions are worth £100 per annum, Organ Scholarships £250, with free singing and organ lessons. Fees are paid for some concerts and on tour costs are covered by the Choir and per diems are provided.

Choral Exhibition Trials

Choral Exhibition auditions are held over a period of two or three days, (Clare will provide overnight accommodation). The trials will be concerned primarily with voice/organ tests, and will not usually have a formal academic component.

Choral Exhibition tests consist of vocal and ear tests, sight reading and the performance of one prepared piece, which should if possible be sacred (though not necessarily liturgical) in nature. An accompanist will be provided, with whom there will be an opportunity to have a preliminary rehearsal. A good ear, ability to sing in tune, a ‘true’ voice with the potential for blend, good sight-reading and genuine motivation, are all qualities which will be tested. Whilst elections to choral exhibitions cannot be made until after the December/January interviews, the results of the organ trials are announced to candidates by letter in October. The ‘A’ level grades of choral candidates are expected to match those of ordinary entrants. Choral and Organ candidates are admitted to Clare to read for an Honours degree in all subjects. 

The process of applying for a Choral Award is as follows:

1. Early October: Apply for an academic place at Clare College
Choral candidates follow the normal application procedure. On the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) there will be a box to tick to express an interest in a Choral Award should you be offered a place.

2. December: Interviews in Cambridge
Most applicants are invited for interview. Only those whose applications seem highly unlikely to be successful on academic grounds will not have their application taken any further at this stage.

3. January-March: Academic decisions and choral auditions
Students who do not receive an academic offer from Cambridge cannot be considered for a Choral Award. Offer-holders who ticked the box expressing an interest in a Choral Award will automatically be invited to audition. Audition dates (sometime between late January and late March) will be advertised widely after all offers have been made. Students who are offered a place to study at Clare College but are not successful in gaining a Choral Award at Clare will be able to audition for a Choral Award at another College. If possible, and where it is seen to be in the interests of the student, an offer of a Choral Award from another College will be accompanied by an academic offer transferred from Clare College (no further interviews will take place).

Organ Scholarship Trials

Organ Scholarships involve the playing of a set piece, a second piece (own choice), a sight- reading test, transposition of a hymn, ear tests, the conducting of a short choir practice, and some accompanying tests.

Organ Scholars

Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Organ and Choral Scholarships Open Days 2012

Cambridge University Faculty of Music will be running Open Days for those considering applying for Organ or Choral Scholarships. The Organ Scholarships Open Day will take place on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 February 2014; the Choral Awards Scholarship Open Day will also take place on Saturday 3 May 2014. To find out more information and to book a place on one or both of these days, please contact the Secretary to the Choral Awards Competition, Daniel Trocmé-Latter on 01223 747171 or email him on:

Precise details about the applications process for those wishing to apply for these awards can be found in the undergraduate prospectus. A Music Awards booklet can be obtained from the University website.

A video about the Choral and Organ Awards can be seen here.

Instrumental Awards

There are opportunities for musicians of every standard and type at Clare College, but to encourage the tradition of excellence, awards are available to instrumental players. These musicians must aspire to the highest standards of musicianship and performance, while also reaching the academic standards required for their chosen course.

Clare College participates in the inter-collegiate Instrumental Award Scheme run by a committee of music lecturers. The purpose of the Instrumental Awards Scheme is to enable gifted players to reach a high standard of performance in chamber music playing.

Instrumental Awards are open to performers on any of the following instruments: violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, piano. The Awards are intended for candidates who are qualified to read the subject of their choice and have outstanding ability as instrumental performers; a distinction at Grade VIII may be regarded as the minimum level of achievement.

Award-holders are expected to give priority to rehearsals (about six hours a week) with their ensemble.

Only if you are offered an academic place at Clare College, and expressed an interest in applying for an Instrumental Award will you be sent a further form on which to apply. This form must be returned to Clare College by the application deadline, which is 28 February 2011.

Auditions, which you must attend, will be held the last week in September 2011. At the auditions, the examiners will select candidates who reach the requisite standard on their instrument, demonstrate a genuine commitment to chamber music, and show evidence of being able to work within an ensemble. In addition, they will seek only to elect Award-holders to whom they can offer a definite place in a complete ensemble; hence the impossibility of predicting precise numbers of awards on offer in any one year.

In addition to the Award itself (£75 per annum), the scheme is normally able to offer Award-holders modest subsidies towards the cost of individual instrumental lessons. Award-holders also benefit from professional chamber music coaching from established professional musicians (eg Endellion Quartet). A number of practice rooms are available in Clare College for the benefit of all students.

The demands made on Award-holders can be high, but the experience gained is correspondingly stimulating and rewarding.

The Director of the Instrumental Awards Scheme is

Rachel Ambrose Evans
Coaching and Concerts Manager of the Instrumental Awards for Chamber Music Scheme

Further information about the Music Awards, may be obtained from the Director of Music, Mr Graham Ross, Clare College, Cambridge CB2 1TL e-mail: