Former Assistant Organist Alex Little playing the Dobson Organ - Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk

Choir: People

Reed Rubin Organist & Director of Music

Benjamin Nicholas is Reed Rubin Organist & Director of Music at Merton, and Principal Conductor of The Oxford Bach Choir. As a conductor he has appeared with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The BBC Singers and The Holst Singers in works such as Elgar’s The Apostles, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, Holst’s Savitri and Verdi’s Requiem.

During Benjamin’s time at Merton, the annual Passiontide at Merton festival has been established, the Dobson Organ has been installed, and the College Girls’ Choir has been founded. He was elected a Bodley Fellow in 2018. 

Benjamin has been involved in the commissioning of a great many works, and conducted the premieres of Charlotte Bray’s Bach RE:Imagined in Southwark Cathedral with the City of London Sinfonia, Howard Goodall’s Veni Sancte Spiritus in Westminster Abbey and numerous choral works by Kerry Andrew, Birtwistle, Chilcott, Dove, Jackson, MacMillan, Martin, Muhly, Tabakova, Weir, and Wilby in Tewkesbury and Oxford.

Benjamin was a chorister at Norwich Cathedral before being appointed Organ Scholar of Chichester Cathedral at the age of 17. He went on to hold organ scholarships at Lincoln College, Oxford and St Paul's Cathedral before becoming Director of Music at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea in 2000. Prior to moving to Merton, he was Director of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and Director of Choral Music at Dean Close School. From 2011 to 2016 he served the Edington Music Festival, firstly as conductor of the Schola and then as Festival Director.

Email: Benjamin Nicholas

Organ Scholars
Kentaro Machida - Photo: © John Cairns - www.johncairns.co.uk
Kentaro Machida - Photo: © John Cairns


Kentaro Machida is Senior Organ Scholar and is in his second year studying music. He started learning the organ at Magdalen College School with Malcolm Pearce in 2014, and during his gap year, he served as Organ Scholar for Sherborne Abbey/School, where he studied with Margaret Phillips. He also plays the piano, french horn, and is currently the student conductor of the Oxford Studio Orchestra. He currently studies organ with Christian Wilson, and conducting with Roland Melia.

Owen Chan is Junior Organ Scholar; he is in his first year studying Mathematics and Philosophy.

Vocal Coaches

Carys LaneGiles Underwood, and William Purefoy are the College's Vocal Coaches. They work with the Choral Scholars on a regular basis whilst continuing to give concerts both in the UK and abroad.

Patron of the College Choir

Peter Phillips, founder and director of The Tallis Scholars, is Patron of the College Choir. It was Peter’s idea that the College should consider establishing a Choral Foundation. Along with Benjamin Nicholas, he was a Reed Rubin Director of Music from 2008, a post he held until 2016. His involvement included recordings, tours and broadcasts, as well as conducting the choir on a number of occasions each term. The College is enormously grateful for Peter’s enthusiasm for the Choral Foundation and is delighted that he has accepted the honorary position of Patron. Peter is also a Bodley Fellow of the College.