Choral Scholarships

Prospective and current students of Durham University are able to apply to become Choral Scholars with Durham Cathedral Choir, singing with the Lay Clerks and Choristers. Scholarships are offered in collaboration with Durham University.

What is a Choral Scholar?

The six Choral Scholars sing eight services per week across six days. For most services, Choral Scholars sing one of the lower parts (alto, tenor and bass) alongside the Lay Clerks, six professional singers who also act as mentors to the students, while the Choristers (all pupils at Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation) sing the top line. Once a week, Choral Scholars and Lay Clerks sing a lower voices Evensong without the children.

The Choral Scholars’ duties run from the beginning of the Michaelmas term through to the second Sunday in July, including Christmas and Easter days.

In a Choral Scholar, we are looking for someone with a well-developed singing voice with a good range and tone, who has experience of singing in a choir or vocal group, strong sight-reading ability and is able to work well in a team. They should be a confident performer, both as a soloist and in a choir.

As well as rehearsing and singing with the Choir, Choral Scholars help with supervising probationer rehearsals and with chorister recruitment, so we look for someone who is suitable for working with children. The post is subject to an Enhanced DBS with Children barred list check and safeguarding training will be provided .They are also added to the Single Central Register at Durham Cathedral Schools Foundation.

Who can apply?

Current and prospective students on Durham University courses can apply for a Choral Scholarship – you must have a place at Durham University to receive the Scholarship.

We are unable to accept applications from people wishing to sing soprano, as the Choristers sing this part. Instead, we recommend you contact Simon Lee and discuss whether joining Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers, our voluntary choir, might be a good fit.

For alto positions, we are pleased to receive applications from people who sing countertenor or contralto.

It is not usually possible to combine the duties of a Choral Scholar with certain academic subjects that involve laboratory work (e.g. the sciences and some social sciences), due to timetabling clashes. Please contact us before applying if you think this might affect you.

Which parts currently have vacancies?

For the 24/25 academic year, we will have vacancies for one alto and one tenor.

How long do Choral Scholarships last?

Choral Scholars can keep their scholarship for as long as their degree lasts – a student applying before the start of their first year might be a Choral Scholar for three years depending on their course, while a current student applying before the start of their final year might only be a Choral Scholar for one year. Progression from one year to the next is dependent on sufficient progress.

When do applications open?

Applications are now open (February 2024), with auditions to be held on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 March 2024, to start at the beginning of the next academic year (October 2024).

How do I apply for a Choral Scholarship?

Please read the role description and fill in the application form below.

What would happen next?

If you are shortlisted for an audition, you will be asked to prepare a piece to sing from a major religious work (for instance, Handel Messiah, Bach St John Passion or similar). If you would like to sing something outside of this, please get in touch. You will also be given some ear tests and sight singing. Further details will be provided.

Do you have Organ Scholarships?

Yes, you can find out more on Organ Scholarships here. However, please note the current appointment for 2023/24 has already been made.

Further questions

If you have another question that is not answered here, please contact the music team directly at