Royal Holloway offers excellent opportunities for singers and organists. Unlike other British collegiate choirs, the Choir of Royal Holloway places considerable emphasis on regular concert performance. Our training specifically prepares singers for different performance situations with expert advice from specialists in the field including the King's Singers, as well as performing with some of the UK's finest instrumentalists. A cappella singing with single voice parts lies at the heart of this and provides music for many of the Chapel services.
We pride ourselves in giving an education that places music in context when performing. Previous projects have included broadcasting and recording early music with period instruments (including Monteverdi’s Vespers in mean-tone temperament), exploring different sound worlds choirs can inhabit through the Vespers of Rautavaara (performed in Finnish), and Rachmaninov (in Church Slavonic). Less familiar repertoire is frequently tackled to provide a broad yet specialised approach.
The full gamut of choral experiences are on offer with scholarships with the Choir of Royal Holloway. Recordings are regular, and receive critical acclaim, and again provide opportunities to work with other professional ensembles, such as the London Mozart Players, Onyx Brass and the Britten Sinfonia. Similarly, the choir tours every year, with larger international trips happening on alternate years. Read about life on tour with the choir from the scholars’ perspective here.
Applications for Choral and Organ scholarships open in the Autumn each year, with the deadline in February. Auditions are then held in March, to start in the following September. Other music scholarships are available from Royal Holloway, and you can find out more about those here. Applications will be considered from undergraduate and post-graduate students, and there is no obligation for applicants to be studying solely music. The university offers a wide variety of courses, a number of which can be studied on a joint-honours course with music, or held alongside a scholarship.
The college also has a number of other choirs. The Founder’s Choir is an auditioned chamber choir who rehearse weekly, and perform occasional services in the chapel, and concerts in and out of the college. They also have an international tour once a year. They are conducted by a senior music student, and managed by a committee of students, overseen by the Director of Choral Music. The Music Department also run the College Chorus, which is a large, un-auditioned choir open to all staff and students across campus. More detail about joining these can be found here.
Want to find out more? We always welcome visits by prospective choral and organ scholars. These can be accommodated during term-time (often Wednesdays and Thursdays), with an opportunity to meet and hear the choir, as well as an informal audition with the Director of Choral Music. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
The training I received as a Choral Scholar at Royal Holloway was invaluable, and has helped me enormously in my subsequent career.
Susan Bullock, Music alumna, internationally renowned Soprano & Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway
Each year Royal Holloway offers Choral scholarships in each voice part. These are normally held for three years, or for the length of the academic course, and the award is £700 per year.
Singing in our choir is a remarkable social and musical experience. The friends you will make and the memories you will form, with experiences such as foreign tours, and performing with world-class musicians will last a lifetime. A focal point of the choir’s week during term time is a half hour concert, where a wide range of sacred and secular repertoire is performed to a good-sized audience. In addition to this, we have weekly services. Both concerts and services are broadcast in HD video in collaboration with the Department of Media Arts.
The Choir aims for the highest standards in every performance. The normal routine for Choral Scholars looks like this:
|Consort Rehearsal and Compline (8:30-9:00pm)|
|Wednesday||Morning Prayer (8:45-9:00am)|
|Lunchtime Concert (1:15-1:50pm)|
Rehearsal and Choral Evensong (6:15-7:00)
|Sunday||Rehearsal and Evening Worship (6:00-6:45) or|
|Sung Mass (7:30-8:30)|
In addition to this, the Choral Scholars are put into one-per-part ensembles who sing one service of Morning Prayer on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday every two weeks. Outside of your contractual commitments to the Chapel Choir, you will be free to pursue other professional work in London, subject to consultation with the Director of Choral Music. Singing lessons are offered to those students who do not receive it as part of their degree programme.
Choral Scholars will also support the work of the College Chorus. Many events such as recordings and concert tours will be scheduled outside of academic term time, and it is expected that all scholars will be available, if required, for these events. Where possible, expenses for all of these events will be met. It is preferred, but not essential, for potential choral scholars to have had relevant experience in church singing. Good sight-reading skills are essential. Alto choral scholarships are available to altos, mezzo sopranos and countertenors.
Past singers of the College include the international soloists Dame Felicity Lott, Susan Bullock, Sarah Fox and many others with successful musical careers. A number now sing with ensembles including The Sixteen, Tenebrae, The Gabrieli Consort, The Tallis Scholars and Voces8.
Click here for guidance notes, application forms and sight-reading examples. You will also find top audition tips from the current choir.
An organ scholarship at Royal Holloway offers a fantastic opportunity to work with an internationally renowned choir. The organ scholars will receive training to help them accompany the Choir of Royal Holloway in all their services and concert engagements, including tours, recordings and live radio broadcasts. They will also act as a répétiteur for Chorus rehearsals and as a continuo player for certain concerts.
Organ tuition and guidance in the art of choral conducting will be offered by Rupert Gough to help the organ scholars work with the choirs. Opportunities will arise in accompanying and directing the Founder’s Choir, a voluntary choir which rehearses weekly in preparation for a number of concerts and occasional Sunday evening services. There are ample performance opportunities including for solo performances. Past organ scholars have attained prominent positions in many British cathedrals and public schools, as well as positions abroad.
The chapel contains a 3-manual organ built by Harrison and Harrison in 1978 which is a remarkably diverse instrument voiced in a largely French style. There is also a new 3½ stop continuo organ built by Dutch organ builder Henk Klop and an 11-stop mechanical action teaching/practice organ by Anders Mårtensson of Sweden. Additionally, an electronic practice organ is available to organ scholars. The music department also owns a new harpsichord built by Andrew Wooderson and Royal Holloway was also the first UK University to be accredited by Steinway on account of the number of Steinway grand pianos on campus. See below to download organ specifications.
Organ Scholars will be expected to give general help with services, to deputise for the Director of Choral Music when needed, and to assist with organ recitals, and other programmes of music given in the Chapel. Organ scholarships are normally held for three years and there is usually one available each year. The maximum award is £1,500 per annum.
Click here for guidance notes, application forms and organ specifications.