The Charles Wood Summer School Organ Scholarship enables a young organist to attend the CWSS week free of charge, working alongside the Charles Wood Singers under the guidance of the Artistic Director and Assistant Director.
The CWSS Organ Scholar for 2012 was Tom Etheridge. Tom is currently organ scholar at Gloucester Cathedral and in 2013 will take up an Organ Scholarship at King's College Cambridge, where he will also read History.
Organ Scholar Review 2012
I was delighted to be invited to attend the 2012 Charles Wood Summer School as Organ Scholar, though had little idea of what to expect, the atmosphere of different courses often being so different. Right from the outset, however, I was put entirely at ease: standing slightly nervously on the edge of a group at registration, many of whom knew each other from previous courses, I was soon approached by several people who were all extremely open and friendly.
The course itself passed in a happy blur of intense activity. Much of the day, particularly early on in the course, was spent rehearsing the large, diverse selection of music scheduled for the week. These sessions were an invaluable opportunity both to watch David Hill work up a choir from scratch, an extraordinary and educational experience in itself, and to improve my rehearsal-accompanying skills under the guidance of Dan Hyde. In addition, I was able to attend the various other activities on offer on the side of the CWSS, including the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, workshops by Paul Farrington, a Come-and-Sing performance of Haydn's The Creation, and several wonderful vocal and instrumental recitals.
My first performance of the week was at Choral Evensong in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral on the Tuesday, accompanying Wood in E flat (no. 2). The highlight of my week, however, came the following day when I played for the Duruflé Requiem in the Catholic Cathedral. I am extremely grateful to David and Dan for allowing me this opportunity, and for all their patient advice on registration, technique and interpretation. For much of the rest of the week I had the great privilege of watching Dan accompany the choir, learning a great deal from his example as well as from the numerous insightful tips he supplied, while at the same time absorbing as many of David's choir-training techniques as possible.
Time spent outside the rehearsal room was equally rewarding. The general atmosphere was very sociable and inclusive, with most members of the Summer School congregating each evening at the Charlemont Arms. The wide age-range and experience levels of the Singers contributed heavily to this: from people in their final year at school to professional lay clerks, everyone was warmly welcomed and made to feel as much a part of the course as those who had been attending for years. By the end of the week, I am certain I was not the only person deeply sad to be leaving.
My lasting impression of the CWSS will be of a week spent listening to and playing stunning music in fabulous settings; receiving brilliant tuition and advice which I hope will last me for life; and of meeting a fantastic group of people who love what they do - and all organised seamlessly and efficiently by the Committee. I cannot recommend this course highly enough.