AFTER breaking with tradition with the successful establishment of Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir in 2006, King’s Ely has further extended its commitment to equal opportunities by introducing Sixth Form choral scholarships for both boys and girls, enabling male choristers to continue their choristerships into young adulthood.

This unique, prestigious scholarship programme with Ely Cathedral will provide young men who have high academic ambition and a serious interest in music with the opportunity to sing alongside professional Layclerks in one of Europe’s finest cathedrals while receiving intensive, specialist musical and academic training and 50% remission on boarding fees.

While boy choristerships traditionally end at around the age of 13 after voice change, the Sixth Form choral scholarship has been specifically designed to nurture and strengthen the developing voice to prepare male scholars for a professional singing career or ambitious university scholarship application.

Girls also qualify for the status of Choral Scholar, and will typically already be members of the Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir.

The school is inviting applications from boys and girls who will be going into Year 12 in September 2013. It is expected that most candidates will have significant previous choral singing experience – in a school, church or cathedral choir – and excellent GCSE results. Auditions will be held in the school in late winter or early spring.

Head Sue Freestone said: “We believe this is a unique opportunity for high academic achievers with a passion for choral music who are actively seeking a professional musical career or university scholarship.

“We are able to offer young adults an excellent education with unparalleled opportunities to develop their voices, while adding to the richness and variety of musical tradition at King’s Ely.

“We have the infrastructure to support them in the widest sense with professional and specialist voice care, and they will be able to perform with professional singers, organists and conductors in the cathedral on a regular basis.”

Supporters of the scholarship programme include Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge, and Christopher Robinson, Former Director of Music at St John’s College, Cambridge, who said: “Following the very successful formation of the Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir, King’s Ely is to be applauded for another important initiative in offering sixth form scholarships for boys with maturing voices.”

Intensive pre-university training will be led by Sarah MacDonald, Director of Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, a trustee of the RCO and a member of its Academic Board. She is Director of Music in Chapel at Selwyn College, Cambridge – the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge chapel.

The male Sixth Form choral scholars will board in the newly refurbished medieval Old Palace and can go home at weekends when they are not singing in the cathedral. Girls will continue to live in Etheldreda House with members of Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir. Both houses contain a dedicated rehearsal space, with a piano available for private practice, as well as kitchens and common rooms.

There will also be additional support for those who wish to prepare for choral scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge and other top universities including Edinburgh, Bristol and Trinity Dublin, and gap year choral scholarships available at many cathedrals.

Students or parents interested in applications for Sixth Form choral scholarships should contact the Admissions Team on 01353 660702 or

Parents are also invited to contact Sarah MacDonald to discuss musical requirement, whose contact details are available through the Admissions Team.

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