Organ Scholars

Benjamin Collyer – Organ Scholar

Ben Collyer is Organ Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford. He began his musical education at the age of seven as a treble in his local parish church choir where he received piano and vocal training. At the age of fourteen he began learning the organ under conductor Jonathan Lo who also introduced him to choral conducting. In 2016, Ben was awarded a place at Chetham’s School of Music to study organ under Christopher Stokes. During his two years there, he performed frequently with Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra and the Manchester Chamber choir, as well as visiting conductors Paul McCreesh, John Rutter and Jac van Steen. Ben directed the Chorale group which performed regularly around Manchester, and also participated in the Greenwich International Early Music Festival. At the age of seventeen, Ben was awarded his ARCO diploma. Since arriving at Christ Church, Ben has been appointed as one of the musical directors of the College Choir, conducting their weekly services as well as arranging concerts in multiple venues across the UK. As a prize winner from the Oundle for Organists course, Ben has performed recitals at multiple venues over the past couple of years, including Gloucester Cathedral, St Laurence Jewry and the Queen’s College, Oxford.

Previous Organ Scholars

Makoto James

Makoto James – Organ Scholar

Makoto James was an Organ Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford. He started his musical career at the age of seven as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, under directors John Scott, Malcolm Archer, and Andrew Carwood. While there, he began studying the organ with cathedral organists Tim Wakerell and Jamie McVinnie. At the age of thirteen he won a music scholarship to Eton College where he continued his studies with David Goode and Elizabeth Burgess. During that time he gave a performance of Handel’s 2nd Organ Concerto with Eton’s chamber orchestra, as well as giving recitals in prestigious venues such as Reading Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral. Between Eton and Oxford, Makoto spent two years in France studying the harpsichord and the fortepiano with Yasuko Bouvard, and received a diploma in organ with the ‘Prix Vidal’ from the Toulouse conservatoire, studying under Michel Bouvard and Jan Willem Jansen. His activity in France included performing with choirs Les Éléments and Le Maîtrise de Toulouse, as well as recitals on the organs of Notre Dame du Taur and Cahors Cathedral. Makoto moved to Oxford in September 2016 to take up his appointment as Organ Scholar at Christ Church where he has been President of the College Music Society alongside directing the College Choir.

Alexander Pott (Organ Scholar 2012-2015)

“I came up to Christ Church in 2012 having spent a gap year at Chelmsford Cathedral. I had a fantastic time at Christ Church and greatly enjoyed working with Stephen Darlington and Clive Driskill-Smith. I certainly worked very hard, especially to begin with – balancing playing for three or four of the services every week plus my music degree work was tough – but it’s perfectly manageable if you’re prepared to be organised. I learned so many skills from my organ scholarship that I now use regularly – not only organ repertoire and accompaniment but directing a choir and teaching children. After three years at Christ Church I went to Westminster Cathedral to be organ scholar, and have now returned to Oxford as Assistant Organist and Tutor to the Choristers at Magdalen College.”

Ghislaine Reece-Trapp (Organ Scholar 2011-2014)

“I was Organ Scholar at Christ Church from 2011 to 2014, before staying on as Assistant Organist for a year after graduating as an Academic Scholar. The countless opportunities and responsibilities given to me over my four years at the Cathedral have without doubt shaped my career as a professional musician. Learning a vast and varied repertoire to a high standard for daily services and live radio broadcasts has broadened my musicianship, improving my ability to sight-read, refine and interpret music of all genres. Furthermore, the challenge of balancing a heavy academic and practical musical workload instilled in me early on a discipline which has enabled me to build a rich and fulfilling portfolio career. I currently teach academic music at Eltham College, where I am heavily involved in the lively extracurricular life of the school; I perform recitals across the UK and abroad, and will be participating in the St Alban’s International Organ Recital Series this summer; I teach on organ courses for the Royal College of Organists, am a Consultant for the Royal School of Church Music and a Yeoman of the Worship Company of Musicians; and I am a keen composer, reaching the Finals of the BBC Radio 3 Carol of the Year Composition Competition and the Northern Ireland International Composition Competition. I look back on my time at Christ Church with fondness, and am eternally grateful to Stephen Darlington for his commitment, passion, support and high expectations in making my experience there a special one.”

Applying to be an Organ Scholar

There are vacancies for 2018 and 2020. For further details please see THIS WEBSITE. The Organ Scholar is normally required to read for the Honour School of Music. He/she assists the Organist with running the music in the Cathedral and attends most practices and services. The opportunity exists to give recitals in the Cathedral, and to conduct the choir in practices and services. The Organ Scholar is expected to play a prominent role in the musical life of the College and University.

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