New College Choir

New College Choir



Edward Higginbottom (Director)

Steven Grahl (Assistant Organist)

Nancy-Jane Rucker (Chapel Administrator)

Visit the choir’s website

New College Choir dates from the foundation of the college in 1376, and is one of the three choral ‘foundations’ in Oxford, which sing services every day in university term. The top line is taken by trebles (from New College School); the alto, tenor and bass lines are taken by undergraduates and lay clerks –either young singers starting out on their careers, or more experienced local professionals. The choir performs regularly with professional baroque groups, including its own Collegium Novum, and tours several times a year – to Europe, the USA and the Far East. It records with its own label Novum, and has won two Gramophone Awards, most recently in 2008.

New College Choir sings choral services every day except Wednesday; Monday is men’s voices only. Sunday is Evensong only (there is no morning service). The choir rehearses each day at 5.20, with extra rehearsals for concerts and recordings.

Who can join the choir?
All those interested in singing in the choir are encouraged to make early contact with the Director, and to take part in the choir’s sixth-form singing scheme.

Choral Scholarships
Applications are made through the university choral award scheme via the Music Faculty website. Auditions take place in September, and candidates then apply through the usual academic (UCAS) application route and are interviewed in December. Academical clerks read a variety of subjects.

The annual stipend is £300, augmented by extra fees for concerts, recordings and tours. Clerks are allocated rooms in college throughout their time in the choir, and have free singing lessons.

Details of the Organ Scholarships:
New College elects an organ scholar every two to three years, who works with the Assistant Organist (currently Steven Grahl) who oversees his or her professional development and work with the choir. The Organ Scholar helps train the choristers and shares with the Assistant Organist the work of accompanying the choir at all services and in concerts and recordings. The annual stipend is £750 and the organ scholar has the same room in college throughout his three years (with a piano), and free organ lessons. Organ scholarship auditions take place in September (application via the Faculty of Music website), at the same time as academic interviews. New College only admits organists who are applying to read music.

The Organist is always happy to meet potential applicants, who are also welcome to visit at any time.