The Theo Saunders Scholarship

The Theo Saunders Scholarship enables a young organist to attend the CWFM week free of charge, working alongside the Charles Wood Singers under the guidance of the Artistic Director.

The 2017 recipient is Donal McCann.

Donal is 18 years old and is currently in his final year of A level studies at Eton College. He previously attended Methodist College where he accompanied award-winning choirs. In 2008 he joined St. Peter's Cathedral Schola Cantorum Belfast, and by 2011 he had achieved grade 8 with distinction in piano, organ and voice. He was the organ scholar in St. George's Parish Church Belfast from 2013 to 2015. In 2012 Donal began studying piano with Anthony Byrne and organ with Professor Gerard Gillen in Dublin. Aged 13, he became the youngest ever winner of the advanced organ class in the Dublin Feis Ceoil. Donal attended the Haarlem Young Talents course in 2012 and 2014, with tutors including Olivier Latry and Lorenzo Ghielmi.


In 2015, performed Saint-Saens' 'Organ' Symphony with the Ulster Youth Orchestra in Derry's Guildhall, and Belfast's Ulster Hall, and also recently performed a Handel organ concerto with the Ulster Orchestra in Armagh Cathedral. He has given recitals around the UK, including in Hereford as part of the Three Choirs Festival, and in Southwark Cathedral. Donal passed the ARCO examination in February 2015, achieving multiple prizes. The following year he obtained FRCO, as well as the Limpus Prize for the highest practical mark. In 2015 Donal obtained the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Scholarship to study in Eton College, to study organ with David Goode. Donal has received a conditional offer to study music in King's College Cambridge, where he has been elected organ scholar, beginning in October 2017.