Organ Scholarship to be supported by the Headley Trust

The Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, has awarded £51,196 over the next three years towards the cost of the cathedral’s Organ Scholarship.

The Truro Cathedral Organ Scholarship is one of the most highly regarded organ scholar positions in the UK. The scholar is almost always a post-graduate straight out of music college or an undergraduate university degree course. While they are with the cathedral, they complete what is, in effect, a professional apprenticeship that develops not only their technique and repertoire but also gives them experience in the wider work of a cathedral music department. They help to rehearse and train girl and boy choristers; plan service music; accompany two or three of the seven services sung each week by the choir, carry out administrative work, help look after visiting recitalists and look after the music library. It’s a busy life!

There is a strong record of former scholars going on to success in the music world. Examples include Luke Bond (1998-99), now Assistant Director of Music at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle; Rachel Mahon (2013-14), now Director of Music at Coventry Cathedral, and Sachin Gunga (2010-11), now Sub-Organist at Portsmouth Cathedral. The cathedral has recently heard the wonderful news that Carolyn Craig (2018-19) will take up the position of Assistant Director of Music of Wells Cathedral after Easter. Other recent organ scholars include James Orford (2014-15), Manuel Piazza (2019-20) and Alden Wright (2021-22), all of whom who have gone on to further organ study and are distinguished solo recitalists. The grant from the Headley Trust will help make sure that this extraordinary pathway remains open to young musicians in the future.

James Anderson-Besant, the Director of Music, said “I am absolutely delighted to be able to thank the Headley Trust for their generosity in awarding this grant. It gives financial security to the organ scholarship programme for the next three years, so that three more promising young organists will be able to acquire valuable experience and skills. Having early-career musicians on the team brings vitality and underpins the continuing development of cathedral music here in Cornwall.”

The Organs of Truro Cathedral

The cathedral has three organs from three different centuries: the nineteenth-century Father Willis organ, which was made for the consecration of the cathedral in 1887; the eighteenth-century Byfield organ, from the original parish church on the site (now St Mary’s Aisle) and the twentieth-century chamber organ. The current Organ Scholar is Jerry Mead, whose scholarship extends to summer 2024. The other organists at the cathedral are James Anderson-Besant and Andrew Wyatt, the Assistant Director of Music.