In 2017 St Mary Magdalene Richmond set up a Choral Foundation with the following aims:
To enrich the worship at St Mary Magdalene through music
To grow the choir and repertoire
To develop the musical skills of individuals through scholarships
Money for the scholarships comes from 2 generous legacies left to the church and from collections at recitals.
The Choral Scholars help to enhance and support the choir of St Mary Magdalene. Four Choral Scholars are appointed each year, with one scholar per part (SATB). As well as having the opportunity to expand their knowledge of repertoire and technique, the scholars will be able to improve their abilities through a vast array of music making. The scholarship can serve as a solid foundation for those looking to seek choral scholarships at a university or college, and/or can help to consolidate and expand skills of those who may be studying at university or conservatoire.
Under the direction of the Director of Music, the Assistant Organist Karl Dorman and the Organ Scholars, each Choral Scholar is expected to be present at all rehearsals and services during term time, as well as major Feast Days (Advent, Holy Week and Easter, Ascension Day, etc.) and concerts which may fall outside of term. Although not expected for Midnight Mass/Christmas Day, scholars will be expected to attend all other Advent, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter services. 6 weeks’ holiday is permitted during the term of the scholarship by agreement with the DoM. The Choral Scholars may also have many opportunities for solo performances through the year by mutual agreement with the Director of Music. There will be a recital series as well as choral concerts. Scholars are encouraged to perform as a quartet or as soloists. It is hoped the Choral Scholars will have a thorough involvement in the music making and life of the church.
The honorarium for each Choral Scholar position is worth £1,500 per annum, paid in 3 instalments. Weddings and funerals occur through the year and the scholars are often required for these. Fees are agreed depending on music required.
The position of Organ Scholar involves assisting the Director of Music in all musical aspects of the services and rehearsals. There are many opportunities for playing, conducting and contributing to the general running and organisation of the music department, which includes some work in managing the choir library. The scholarship can be designed to suit each candidate’s needs, focusing on conducting, playing, or a balance of the two.
The Organ Scholar may also sing when not playing or conducting. There is a monthly recital series as well as choral concerts. Scholars are encouraged to perform in these concerts.
Several festivals over the course of the year do not fall on Sundays including Advent and Christmas services, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week services, Ascension Day, etc. The Organ Scholar is expected to be available for these services with the exception of Midnight Mass/Christmas Day.
A typical Sunday Eucharist will contain a voluntary before and after the service. Along with the hymns, the choir normally sing an anthem, a psalm (Anglican chant or Responsorial), as well as a mass setting which is normally congregational. Choral Evensong is sung every week (apart from August) using a host of different responses and canticles, which allow the choir to explore more repertoire including larger evening settings. Once a month the organists will accompany the Sung Matins service.
Past Organ Scholars have studied at the Royal College of Music and have gone on to do careers in music, as well as organ scholarships at Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrew’s and abroad to the USA.
The honorarium for the Organ Scholar is worth £2,000 – £2,500 per annum, paid in 3 instalments.
The St Mary Magdalene organ is a 3 manual 1907 Walker & Sons, restored in 1965 and 1999 with a conversion to an electric action, new pedalboard and tonal alterations – you can read more about the organ here. There is also a Blüthner grand piano in the church.