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Applications invited for the UK’s first prep School pipe organ scholarships

Jun 8, 2023

Salisbury Cathedral, organ

Salisbury Cathedral School is proud to announce the launch of a new pipe organ scholarship programme, the first in a UK preparatory school. The new ‘Griffiths Chapel Organ Scholarships’, will support two organ scholars during Upper Prep, school years 7 and 8, commencing in September 2023 and / or September 2024.

Applications are welcomed from minimum grade 5 level keyboard players, or pupils already learning the organ, in current school years 5 and 6. The scholarship will run through Upper Prep. For more information, or to apply, please email admissions@salisburycathedralschool.com. Salisbury Cathedral School is a boarding school, registered with the BSA (Boarding Schools’ Association), and so can accept applications from beyond its local area.

The successful candidates will receive a 20% school fee remission – with access to significant further means tested bursary funds – weekly organ lessons, and regular performance opportunities in the school Chapel and local churches, as well as the possibility of playing the famous Father Willis organ in Salisbury Cathedral. The two new organ scholars will also benefit from the thriving music department at Salisbury Cathedral School with its many choirs and ensembles as well as an extensive range of instrumental lessons available.

There will be two scholarship places, one for a boy and one for a girl, in respect of the school’s ongoing commitment to parity of musical opportunity for boys and girls. It was only 32 years ago, in 1991, that seventeen girls arrived at Salisbury Cathedral School to create something truly unique. They were to be the first girls’ Cathedral choir in the UK operating on parity with the boys, and with an independent foundation for funding support. Now, the new organ scholarships continue the school’s tradition of supporting women in the traditional realm of church music.

The two organ scholarship places are supported by the generosity of Paul Griffiths and Joanna Marsh, who responded to Salisbury Cathedral School’s Pipe Dreams campaign. The Pipe Dreams campaign, launched in May 2022, is raising money to repair the school’s Peter Collins pipe organ, make improvements to the organ loft in the school chapel, and launch the new organ scholarships. Thanks to an ongoing schedule of fundraising events, the school will also be able to commission necessary organ repairs during the 2023 summer holidays, meaning the new scholars will have a fantastic organ to practise and perform on.

Paul Griffiths commented, ‘My wife Joanna Marsh and myself have been keenly devoted to Cathedral music for most of our lives and are motivated to perpetuate this wonderful tradition. We are keen to support the introduction of young people to the rewarding and beneficial study of the organ and its repertoire, especially as the natural pathway which most of us followed is more opaque in our increasingly secular society.’

‘We could not be more delighted to welcome Paul Griffiths and his wife Joanna Marsh to the Salisbury Cathedral School community, and are greatly indebted to their generosity which will open a musical path for two young people,’ said Clive Marriott, Salisbury Cathedral School Head Master. ‘Paul is himself a wonderfully accomplished organist and Joanna is a renowned composer who won an Ivors Composer Award for her composition for unaccompanied choir, ‘All Shall Be Well’, in 2022. Their combined musical expertise and passion will be a great inspiration for the new scholars and our wider school community.’

‘As a leading musical prep school, we have a duty to improve and increase our organ teaching to

help ensure the future of this ‘King of Instruments’ and its central role in cultural and spiritual life,’ continues Mr Marriott. ‘We are ideally placed to introduce scholarships for young organists and then help those pupils find Senior schools which will continue to provide advanced pipe organ practise and performance opportunities. We believe we will be the first UK prep school to provide pipe organ scholarship places.’

Salisbury Cathedral School is also committed to enabling wider access to its Peter Collins Pipe Organ. To this end, the school welcomes enquiries from individuals and groups in the Salisbury community who need a good quality pipe organ for rehearsal or performance.

Enquiries should be emailed to:  development@salisburycathedralschool.com.

Salisbury Cathedral School has been educating the choristers of Salisbury Cathedral since its inception in 1091. This strong history shapes the school and is reflected both in the Christian values which underpin the curriculum and voice, and in the musical excellence for which the school is rightly renowned. The organ reflects this dual essence of being a musical school with Christian foundations.

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