Two Tonbridge boys will be taking up the hugely prestigious role of Oxbridge organ scholars next year. Organ scholarships are awarded to talented students who are chosen to direct or assist with the music in a college chapel, offering them unlimited opportunities to engage in music-making at the highest level.
Alex Trigg – who left Tonbridge in 2020 and is spending his gap year as organ scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor – has been appointed at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he will study music, while current upper-sixth student, Ben Gardner – who as well as being a talented musician was awarded a distinction in the British Maths Olympiad, being ranked in the top 25 per cent of all competitors – has been offered the role at Balliol College, Oxford, where he will be reading maths.
The scope of Oxbridge organ scholars’ responsibilities varies from college to college and can typically include playing at chapel services, directing choirs and organising musical tours and recordings. In some colleges they are effectively the directors of chapel music; in others, they act as assistants to a professional director of music.
‘I’ve known since the age of about eight that I’d want to study music at university,’ says Alex. ‘To get to Cambridge to read music with an organ scholarship is something I truly set my heart on about five years ago. Cambridge is the centre of so much wonderful music making – I’d love to spend three years of my life in the middle of all that.’
‘One of the highlights of my time at Tonbridge has, of course, been the opportunity to play the outstanding Marcussen Organ,’ said Ben. ‘It is such a versatile instrument and extremely fun to play. But overall, Tonbridge has really taught me to make the most of every opportunity that I have.’
Mark Forkgen, the school’s director of music exclaimed the school’s delight for both Alex and Ben. ‘They have both shown incredible dedication in meeting the standard required of an Oxbridge organ scholar. This involves not only playing organ pieces, but improvising, transposing, harmonising melodies, sight-reading, score-reading and directing. Both have also demonstrated that they are capable of being leaders and carrying out these considerable duties in addition to reading for a degree.’
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