Old Elean, James Mitchell, has been crowned a winner in the 2020 Royal College of Organists (RCO) Composition Competition.

James, who joined King’s Ely in 2015 as a Sixth Form Organ Scholar and who has recently graduated with a Double First in Music from Girton College, Cambridge, won the ‘Under 25 Years’ category with ‘Festival Toccata’.

We had a quick catch-up with James after hearing his fantastic news to find out more about his time at King’s Ely and what he has been up to since leaving:

“My time at King’s Ely was all too brief. I joined in 2015 in Year 13 as the Sixth Form Organ Scholar, doing my final year of school here and so leaving in July 2016. Prior to being at King’s, I had neither boarded nor lived away from my parents or outside of my home county of Devon. Going to King’s was therefore an eye-opening experience, and I am very lucky that King’s was so warm and welcoming, even to a late arriver like me!

“After King’s, I did a gap year at Manchester Cathedral before going on to study Music at Girton College, Cambridge as well as holding the organ scholarship there. I graduated from there this past summer, and am now doing a MPhil in music, this time at Emmanuel College (still in Cambridge), again with an organ scholarship.

“During my time at King’s, I got stuck into as much of the music scene as I could! I was part of the orchestra, the string orchestra, the wind orchestra and the jazz band, not to mention the often daily Cathedral commitments. King’s offered a musical environment which previously required my parents to drive me the length and breadth of Devon, all now within less than five minutes walk. The music staff were all very supportive, and some of the friends and contacts I’ve made with both students and staff have lasted even to this day.

“My time at King’s was invaluable. I likely would not have got into Cambridge without the support of the staff, who helped me even before I officially arrived at King’s. The school has given me the confidence to be ambitious, to believe in myself and to take the opportunities presented to me. I was fortunate to recently win the RCO Composition Competition, which brought back memories of when I won the inaugural Melody Day Composition Award all those years ago. King’s showed me the possibilities that lay open to me, and I am, and will always be, eternally grateful for that.”

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