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Choral & Music Awards

Music and Music awards at Newnham

Director of Music

Newnham's Director of Music is Delphine Mordey. Delphine helps the the Raleigh Music Society Committee members with their duties, hopes to foster different kinds of music-making in College, and provides a focal point and vision for musical activities in Newnham. She is also the person to ask if you have any questions about use of pianos, borrowing or hiring music, finding other players or singers, finding music teachers, applying for music awards, etc. Delphine is always happy to hear from College musicians, and from prospective students who want to know more about the musical life of the college. She can be contacted on dmm36@cam.ac.uk.

Choral Awards for Newnham Students

Newnham College Choral Awards are held in the mixed Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, across the road from Newnham. The Colleges share the Chapel and the Chaplain at Selwyn. Selwyn College Chapel Choir has led worship in the College Chapel since its foundation in the last decade of the nineteenth century. For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, the all-male choir of undergraduates was directed by the Organ Scholars and sang daily Choral Evensong. For occasional larger works, the men "borrowed" sopranos and altos from Newnham.

The mixed choir, formed in 1976 with the admission of women to Selwyn, now consists of up to twenty-eight Choral Scholars (called Choral Exhibitioners), most of whom are undergraduate or graduate students at Selwyn or Newnham, with a few volunteers from other colleges. The choir is conducted by the Director of Music in Chapel, who is assisted by two undergraduate Organ Scholars.

During term, the choir sings three services per week in the College Chapel, as well as concerts and services throughout the UK. Its repertoire ranges from the 10th to the 21st century. The choir has made a number of recordings, for labels including Herald, Priory, Regent, and URM. They have broadcast services for BBC Radio, and every year undertake an international tour (in the recent past, destinations have included France, Hungary, the United States, Israel and Palestine, Canada, Finland and Estonia, New Zealand). For more details on the choir's touring schedule, click here.

Selwyn College Chapel Choir is directed by Sarah MacDonald. Sarah came to the UK from her native Canada in 1992 as Organ Scholar of Robinson College, Cambridge, after studying piano, organ, singing, and conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where she was a student of Leon Fleisher, Marek Jablonski, and John Tuttle. Sarah read for a degree in Music at Cambridge, taking her BA in 1995 and her MA in 1999. She studied the organ with David Sanger. She was appointed Director of Music in Chapel at Selwyn College in 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. Sarah has taught organ and conducting for Eton Choral Courses, the Oundle School for Young Organists, the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy, and courses run by the Royal College of Organists (RCO); she gives regular choral workshops for both professional and amateur choirs in the UK and Canada, and teaches for the Cambridge University Music Faculty. In her "spare time", Sarah also runs the University's Inter-Collegiate Organ Scholarships Competitions, and for many years was the Director of Music at Newnham College. Sarah has played numerous recitals and made over 25 recordings, variously in the guises of pianist, organist, conductor, and producer. She has conducted choirs on tours throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Canada, has broadcast live on BBC Radio, and is a winner of the RCO Limpus Prize. Sarah is a Fellow of the RCO, and is a member of both the national Council and the Academic Board.

Sarah can be contacted at Selwyn College (seam100@cam.ac.uk) and is always happy to hear from prospective Choral Scholars.

Some of the links below will take you to the official web-site for Selwyn College Chapel Choir, where you can find more detailed information about the choir's activities.
As well as making the full commitment to the Chapel Choir at Selwyn, Newnham Choral Scholars are expected to play a leading role in music-making and organisation at Newnham. Newnham College's 'Raleigh Music Society' puts on several concerts during term in College, in the Old Labs, which is ideal for musical and dramatic activities. There are four grand pianos in College, including a Boston 7-foot and a Bosendorfer concert grand in the Old Labs, a Steinway in the MCR and a Yamaha in Clough Hall.
It is not necessary for Choral Award-holders to read Music for their degree, however, it is important that interested applicants consider carefully what subject they choose to study, knowing that the choir takes up a fair proportion of their time for all three years.

Every year there are University Open Days for prospective Choral Award candidates. These normally take place in the first week of May, and it is recommended that interested candidates attend. It is also recommended that candidates attend academic Open Days in the College. Information for the next Choral Award Open Day can be obtained from:
Dr David Skinner, Sidney Sussex College, email: dgs38@cam.ac.uk
Information on academic Open Days at Newnham can be obtained from the College Admissions Office (admissions@newn.cam.ac.uk).

Application for choral awards is through the University choral award scheme. Procedures for this are changing for entry from 2013, please check the relevant University webpage from May 2012.

Newnham College Choir

Newnham has its own choir, which meets for one or two performances per term. Potential members with a significant amount of previous choral experience will not usually need to audition. There are normally three or four rehearsals immediately before each performance. Anyone interested in singing should contact the Director of Music at Newnham. This choir gives Newnham singers the opportunity to explore some of the wonderful music for treble voices: some of the repertoire the choir has sung in the recent past includes Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols and The Golden Vanity, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, and Brahms' Opus 44 Lieder und Romanzen. In 2006 the choir released its first CD, with music by Rachmaninov, Fauré, Holst, and Bridge.

University Instrumental Awards

University Instrumental Awards are intended to enable gifted players to reach a high standard of performance in chamber music playing. Award holders are expected to give priority to rehearsals (about 6 hours per week) with their ensemble. Professional coaching is provided for all ensembles free of charge.

In addition to the Award itself, the Scheme is normally able to offer Award-holders modest subsidies towards the cost of individual instrumental lessons.

Instrumental Awards are open to performers on any of the following: violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, piano. The Awards are intended for candidates who are qualified to read the subject of their choice and have outstanding ability as instrumental performers; a Distinction at Grade VIII of the Associated Board may be regarded as the minimum level of achievement. Holders of organ or choral awards are ineligible.

If you indicate in your application that you are interested in applying for an Instrumental Award and you are offered a place at Newnham, you will be sent further information on how to apply. The application form must be returned to us by the end of February. Auditions will be held at the beginning of October, just before the start of your first term. Further information about the University Instrumental Awards scheme can be found at http://www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/musicawards/instrumental.html

College music awards

Newnham College also runs its own music award scheme, with two types of award:
  • Music Organiser awards: Music Organisers, appointed each January for a calendar year, take responsibility for certain College musical events and for the general organisation and encouragement of music in the College. They are awarded £100 per year, with an additional sum towards music lessons if they do not hold University Instrumental Awards or a Newnham Choral Scholarship.
  • Instrumental and vocal awards: these are awarded by audition during the Michaelmas Term each year, and are worth £80 towards music lessons. Holders are expected to play a full part in College musical life and to be prepared to perform in College concerts. University Instrumental Award-holders and Newnham Choral Scholars are not eligible for these college awards.


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