Cathedral scholars sing for joy

Ripon Grammar School students are singing the praises of cathedral scholarships which, in addition to top class musical tuition, offer them a host of exciting opportunities

FIVE talented Ripon Grammar School musicians are singing for joy after securing scholarships to perform with Ripon Cathedral choir while working towards their studies.

Marking an exciting new era for choral music at Ripon Cathedral, there are plans to expand the scholarship programme, formalised two years ago under the new director of music Dr Ronny Krippner.

Joshua Greenwell is the cathedral’s first sixth form organ scholar, which means he will have the opportunity to play at services and sing with the lay clerks in addition to receiving a top-class musical education.

Following competitive auditions, Zara Ali, Lily and Francesca Abrahams and Abi Charlton all secured choral scholarships and will perform with the choir four times a week while receiving the coveted tuition which will stretch them even further musically.

In addition to receiving a small stipend, their success could also prove to be the launch pad to future careers, with members of the cathedral choir having gone on to sing in the National Youth Choir and obtain choral and music scholarships to universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Durham.

Canon Michael Gisbourne, in charge of music at the cathedral, said: "It is inspiring to see young people flourishing as choral scholars at Ripon Cathedral as they enhance the sung worship of this ancient and sacred place of prayer.

“With this burgeoning initiative we look forward to others exploring a choral and organ scholarship, and to this cathedral, which serves the city, the Diocese of Leeds and the region, partnering with RGS in the future."

Francesca, 17, from Laverton, joined the choir when she was seven and has ambitions to win a choral scholarship to university where she hopes to study modern languages.

The Harrogate Music Festival finalist, who achieved a grade 8 distinction in singing, said: “I really enjoy getting the opportunity to sing challenging music with the choir.”

Zara, 15, started singing with the cathedral choir eight years ago: “Being a choral scholar has greatly assisted my GCSE music course as it allowed me to strengthen my understanding of music theory and my performance skills.

“Previously, I would have had to leave the cathedral at the end of Year 9, so I was incredibly glad and relieved that the position of choral scholars was created allowing me and others to stay on.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities the choir has provided such as the tours and concerts."

Planning to take her diploma in singing in the summer and working towards grade 8 in piano and oboe, she wants to continue with her music after school: “Whether that is as a choral scholar at university or playing in an orchestra.”

Joshua, from Barnard Castle, who has been playing the organ for seven years, said: "I get to learn from some of the UK's best church musicians as well as getting to play an amazing cathedral organ on a regular basis. Every time I play or sing there's a highlight in some way. Really it's just what I love doing."

The 16-year-old hopes to hold an organ scholarship in his gap year before going on to study music at a conservatoire or university.

Abigail, 14, from Ripon, has been singing in the cathedral choir for eight years and has achieved her grade 6 in singing. She has enjoyed visiting lots of different cathedrals and is looking forward to going on tour to Germany with the cathedral in August.

Lily, 14, from Laverton, who also joined the cathedral choir eight years ago, says she loves being a cathedral scholar: "I think it's a really great opportunity and has a lot of benefits for university. I also think especially during exam time, choir can be a really nice break."