Alex Little playing the Dobson Organ - Photo: © John Cairns -

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

Assistant Organist and Organ Scholar
Alex Little FRCO - Photo: © Ian Wallman
Alex Little FRCO, Assistant Organist - Photo: © Ian Wallman

Alex Little is Assistant Organist at Merton, a position which he has held since 2018, having previously been organ scholar at the college since 2015. He completed both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Merton. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, he has also gained recognition in international competitions, winning the Bach Prize and Third Prize overall at the 2018 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition.

Alex was a chorister at Norwich Cathedral, where he began learning the organ with David Dunnett; he studied with William Whitehead in Oxford while an undergraduate. He now travels to Copenhagen for lessons with renowned Swedish organist Hans Fagius, with a grant from the Eric Thompson Trust.

As well as his work at Merton, Alex is accompanist of the Oxford Bach Choir, organist of the Sheldonian Theatre, and is a regular chorus-master with the Oxford Alternative Orchestra, working on operas by Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Steve Reich.

Kentaro Machida - Photo: © John Cairns -
Kentaro Machida - Photo: © John Cairns

Kentaro Machida is Organ Scholar and is in his first 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.

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.