The Chapel Choir

The Chapel Choir of Downing College is a mixed-voice choir made up primarily of students from Downing, traditionally holding a reputation as one of the friendliest choirs in Cambridge. We are delighted to hear from anyone who enjoys singing.

Our Chapel boasts one of the best acoustics in Cambridge. To find out what the Choir is singing this term, have a look at the latest Chapel term card.

More information can also be found on the Choir's Facebook page.

Joining the Choir

We offer Choral Awards to undergraduates who apply to Cambridge University through the central Choral Award Scheme. We also make a number of Choral Awards ourselves to Downing students, and recruit other singers from Downing and elsewhere.

Most people join the Choir in October, but vacancies may arise during the year. If you are interested in joining the Choir, please email Chris Hamilton to organise a short, informal audition.

Activities

The Choir rehearses weekly every Thursday for Choral Evensong on Sundays and late evening services of Compline on Thursdays twice each term.

In return for their commitment, members of the Choir dine for free in formal hall on Sundays, as well as receiving regular singing lessons.

Choir Tours

In addition to performing at weekly College services, the Chapel Choir of Downing College sings in a wide variety of locations outside of Cambridge. Our most recent tour was to Hungary, performing in some of the very best venues in Budapest and Cambridge's sister city, Szeged.

Other recent international tours have included Canada and the US, Lithuania, Toronto, Edinburgh, China, Amsterdam, The Hague and Brussels, and Scandinavia. Recent cathedral residencies have included Peterborough, Norwich, Canterbury and Ely.

Organ Scholarships

Our Organ Scholars are Louisa Denby (Assisting Organist) and Christopher Hamilton. From 2015 to 2018 the Choir and Organ Scholars were supported and mentored by Dr Christopher Robinson (former Director of Music at St John's College, Cambridge, Worcester Cathedral, and St George's Chapel, Windsor, UK), and this role is now fulfilled by the College's Director of College and Chapel Music, David Lowe.

There is one vacancy for a Graduate Organ Scholar to join us in October 2019, and the Chaplain welcomes enquiries about this post. We will also be looking for an Undergraduate Organ Scholar to join us in October 2020, as described on the Cambridge University Organ Scholarships page.

Organ scholars receive an annual stipend of £450, along with £300 towards tuition, and a large room in College with a piano for all three years of the scholarship. Our superb new organ was built by Kenneth Tickell and Company, completed in 2014. More information can be found on the Chapel Organ webpage.

Downing has a reputation for producing successful organists and choral directors. Previous organ scholars include:

  • our Honorary Fellow Martin Baker (Westminster Cathedral)
  • Tom Leech (Leeds Cathedral)
  • Benjamin Saunders (Leeds Cathedral)
  • Andrew Millington (Exeter Cathedral)
  • Carl Jackson (Hampton Court Palace)
  • David Pipe (York Minster).

For further information about becoming an Organ Scholar in Cambridge, see the Organ Scholarships page. Potential applicants are also welcome to contact the Chaplain to ask any questions they may have, and are welcome to arrange to visit the College.

David Lowe, Director of College and Chapel Music [email directorofmusic@dow.cam.ac.uk] is always happy to meet prospective choral and organ scholars to discuss musical opportunities at Downing College.