Members of the choir recording the 'Sleeper's Prayer' CD, 2019 - Photo: ©

Join the College Choir

Benjamin Nicholas is happy to meet prospective candidates over Zoom or Skype during the current situation. Please contact him by emailing to arrange an appointment.
Choral Scholarships

"Merton Chapel is the most perfect place to be – singing in the choir was an absolute thrill."
Dame Emma Kirkby, soprano

The Choir of Merton College has established itself as one of Oxford’s leading mixed-voice choirs. The choir consists of 30 undergraduates and post-graduates, many of whom hold choral scholarships at the College. Members of the choir read a wide range of subjects, and some members of the choir are students at other colleges. The main focus of the choir’s work is the singing of the services in Merton College Chapel where, in addition to Choral Evensong, special services such as the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Carol Services and the Requiem Mass for All Souls have a large following. The choir continues to build its reputation worldwide through numerous international tours, broadcasts and recordings.

The choral scholars study with Giles Underwood and Carys Lane, and take part in masterclasses and workshops with visiting teachers, most recently Steven Varcoe, Robert Rice, Iain Burnside and Rogers Covey-Crump.

A Choral Scholar at Merton:

  • Sings three services a week during term, plus occasional special services
  • Receives an award to the value of £935 which includes funding for singing lessons
  • Has singing lessons with the College’s inspirational singing teachers
  • Receives free meals in Hall after choral services
  • Takes part in masterclasses
  • Tours abroad regularly
  • Sings on recordings and broadcasts regularly on the BBC
  • Performs with orchestras (Bach Passions & Mass in B minor, Elgar The Dream of Gerontius, Mozart Requiem, Pärt Passio, etc.)

In addition to 24 Choral Scholars, there are six members of the choir who receive an honorarium per service, and many of the privileges of a Choral Scholar.

Organ Scholarships

The Organ Scholarship at Merton offers an undergraduate organist the opportunity to take a full role in the Chapel and College music, working alongside the Organist and Director of Music.

Previous organ scholars include Norman Cocker (organist of Manchester Cathedral), Michael Emery (Producer, The BBC Singers), Christopher Ward (conductor) and Matthew O'Donovan (member of Stile Antico and Head of Academic Music at Eton College).

The main organ in Merton College Chapel was built by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, USA and installed in 2013 ready for the College’s 750th anniversary celebrations in 2014. It is a three-manual organ of forty-four stops, and was opened by John Scott who gave the Dedication Concert on Saturday 26 April 2014.

The organ scholars take part in classes organised by the College and the 'Betts Scheme'. The most recent visiting tutors have included Paul Jacobs (Head of Organ, The Juilliard School), for repertoire, and Iain Burnside for piano accompaniment.

The two Organ Scholars at Merton:

  • Accompany the choir in three services a week, play for the girl choristers once a week and play the Sunday Morning Service
  • Have unlimited access to the three-manual Dobson organ, installed in 2013
  • Assist with the training and direction of the College Choir and the girl choristers
  • Receive a generous honorarium and music allowance
  • Receive funding for study courses, and examination fees for diplomas
  • Have organ and singing lessons
  • Receive free meals in Hall after choral services
  • Take part in classes organised by the College and by the Betts Association
  • Tour abroad regularly
  • Accompany the College Choir on recordings and broadcast regularly on the BBC



Prospective singers and organists are welcome to meet with Benjamin Nicholas at any point during the year to discuss choral and organ scholarships.

For further information visit the Faculty of Music’s Organ and Choral Scholarships site.