Choral and organ awards
The Chapel of New College.
(Image credit: New College / Oxford University Images).

Choral and organ awards

Many colleges offer awards to singers and organists. Whatever subject you're planning to apply for, you can audition for a choral or organ award in September, before following the academic application procedure from October.

Choral awards

Choral-award holders take a central part in their college’s musical life, and gain invaluable performance experience and training at a high level. The duties and benefits vary from college to college, but will always include singing regular services in the college chapel. A significant number of today's leading singers - Toby Spence, Susan Gritton, Emma Kirkby and Robin Blaze, to name but a few - started out as choral scholars at Oxford.

The level of commitment varies between colleges. The choral foundations - Christ Church, Magdalen and New College - offer the busiest choral experience, performing on a more-or-less daily basis during term. At other colleges the choirs sing between one and four services per week during term. The choirs of the three choral foundations use only male voices, while other colleges have mixed-voice choirs. Many of the choirs are professionally directed, and others are led by the college organ scholars.

The choral awards available for those applying in 2014 are as follows: 

College

2015

2016

Key: S=Soprano, A=Alto, T=Tenor, B=Bass
Christ Church*1T, 1B2A, 1T, 1B
Exeter4 in totalPlaces not available
through deferred entry
Keble1S, 1A, 1T, 1B1S, 1A, 1T, 1B
Magdalen*2A, 1T, 1B2A, 1T, 2B
Merton8 in total8 in total
New College*2B1A, 1T, 1B
Oriel3 in total3 in total
The Queen's College8 in total8 in total
St Edmund Hall1T, 2B1S, 1T
St Peter's8 in total8 in total
Somerville1S, 1A, 1T, 1B1S, 1A, 1T, 1B
University College6 in total6 in total
Worcester8 in total8 in total

*Christ Church, Magdalen and New College are choral foundations, which accept only male choral scholars.

Organ awards

Organ scholars have a crucial role in Oxford music. In some colleges they are effectively the directors of chapel music; in others they act as assistants to a professional director of music. The experience is without parallel for those wishing to engage in music-making at a high level; learning how to accompany and direct choirs, and acquiring organisational skills. The chapel music environment in Oxford is extremely lively, and offers scope not only for outstanding work in chapel contexts but also for external activities, such as tours and recordings.

The organ awards available for those applying in 2014 are as follows: 

College

2015

2015

Balliol1  • 
Brasenose  • 
Christ Church  •
Corpus Christi • 
Exeter1  • 
Hertford1  • 
Jesus3  • 
Lady Margaret Hall  •• 
Lincoln  •• 
Magdalen1  •
Merton  • 
New College1  • 
Oriel4  • 
Pembroke  • 
The Queen's College  • 
St Edmund Hall2  • 
St Peter's  •
Somerville  •
Trinity  • tbc
University College  •
Worcester1  •

1 Applicants must apply to read Music
2 Applicants may not apply to read Music
Applicants must apply to study Engineering Science, Modern Languages or Music
4 Applicants must apply to study Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Classics, Classics and English, Computer Science, Engineering, English, Law, Maths, Maths and Computer Science, Maths and Philosophy, Music, Philosophy and Theology, PPE or Theology and Religion 

Other ways to get involved

You do not have to be a music scholar to sing in a chapel choir, and many colleges offer instrumental awards for which you can audition after you have begun your studies at Oxford.

College

Awards

Details

Balliol1An instrumental award of £150 per annum is awarded each year for performance on any musical instrument.
Christ Church1The competition is open to all members of the college, regardless of subject or year.
Hertford2/3Any instrumentalist may apply for awards of £200 towards the cost of music lessons.
Keble1Candidates should be at least Grade 8 ABRSM standard and many applicants in previous years have been playing at diploma level. Duties depend on the individual but they generally go on to hold an office in the college Music Society, perhaps in charge of organising music events. Scholars receive £200 per year. The scholarship may be held for up to 3 years.
Magdalen2Any undergraduates in their first year of study may apply. Successful candidates will receive an annual award of £200. Music Scholars will be required to offer to the college an annual concert recital during the tenure of the Scholarship.
New1Open to first years (in any subject) with a musical ability of at least Grade 8. The award is £300 pa for the duration of the student's studies, made on the condition that the award holder will play a leading role in undergraduate music-making (such as playing in the college Orchestra or taking part in the lunch-time recitals).
Oriel1Intended to provide financial assistance with the cost of music lessons and is renewable in each case up to three years. In return, instrumental-award holders are required to give at least one recital per year in the Music Society's concert series and to participate generally in the Music Society's work. Applicants may play any instrument except the organ.
Pembroke1+2

The college offers an annual Instrumental Scholarship of £300, open to all first and second year undergraduates reading for any subject, except the Organ Scholar, who is not eligible. The scholarship will be available for one year, awarded on the basis of a recital. Any instrument apart from the organ, but including the voice, may be offered.

Pembroke has also created two Vocal Scholarships which are awarded each year to suitably qualified students. These scholars are entitled to sixteen free lessons during the year. Pembroke hopes to attract high quality singers who have already undergone some voice training and who are looking to develop their voices further. An ability level of around Grade 7 is normally required, but entry is not in any way dependent on grades achieved, simply on talent. Each scholarship provides tuition equivalent to around £750.

Queen's1 (alternate years)Instrumental Scholarships are offered for competition in an undergraduate’s first term at Queen’s. Usually there is one award available in alternate years. The value of the awards ranges from £150 to £200 per year. The award holder must to contribute to music within the college.
St Anne's6Bursaries are each worth £350.
St Catherine's1+several smaller prizes

Offers a repetiteur scholarship designed for pianists interested in accompanying and conducting; the duties are split between assisting with practical music in the college and acting as repetiteur with the Oxford-based 'New Chamber Opera' company. Candidates interested in the repetiteur scholarship should indicate their interest when applying for a place at St Catherine's College by entering "repetiteur scholarship" in the further details section of their UCAS application. Auditions may take place during the December interview period or at candidates' convenience in early January.

Leask Music Scholarships are competed for by audition during Hilary Term and are intended to assist students with the cost of music lessons.

St Hilda's1+2The award is open to singers and instrumentalists but the latter may perform on only one instrument. Candidates should be of at least Grade 8 (or equivalent) in standard. The Scholarship includes a payment of £100. In addition, the Scholar and two further Award holders will be able to reclaim up to £250 against the cost of music lessons.
St Hugh's1There is a music prize available each year, open to all first year undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of their subject. The winner of this competition is awarded a financial contribution and is expected to offer a short recital, supported by the college music students.
St John's4+1Offers four Music Bursaries for junior members. Each Bursary will be tenable for one academic year and will provide up to £120 per term towards the cost of music lessons. In addition, a Scholarship of £400 is available to help finance lessons for a gifted instrumentalist. All resident Junior members (other than those already receiving financial support for music lessons) are eligible to apply.
St Peter'sSeveralScholarships are awarded by competitive audition and are open to all undergraduate students, regardless of subject. Awards range from £50 to £400.
Trinity2Instrumental Bursaries are offered to encourage good instrumentalists to foster and participate in the musical life of the college. Normally two (renewable) bursaries are awarded each year. Application forms are sent to all Junior Members during their first Hilary Term. Bursaries will be awarded for one year in the first instance and are renewable annually subject to satisfactory academic performance and to satisfying the Senior Member of the Trinity College Music Society that the holder has made a proper contribution to music within the college. The value of a Bursary is £125 p.a.
Worcester2Available to all undergraduates of the college regardless of subject. Awards range from £120 to £200 p.a). Although candidates are not expected to have taken Associated Board or equivalent examinations, award-holders in the past have normally attained the equivalent of distinction in Grade 8. There are no specific duties attached, but it is expected that award-holders will take an active part in the fostering of the musical life of the college and that they will agree, if called upon, to serve on the committee of the Worcester Music Society.