Choral Scholarship Testimonials

Ossian Huskinson (bass) graduated in 2016 from the University of Nottingham before studying at the Opera School of the Royal Academy of Music. He now sings with English National Opera.

Having been a choral scholar at St Mary’s for over two years during my undergraduate degree at the University of Nottingham, I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested. I credit my time there as essential in developing my musicality and musicianship, not just through the excellent direction of John Keys, but through working with experienced choral singers. Additionally, the scholarship afforded me singing lessons to further develop my technique, and opportunities to be a soloist in concerts, which was instrumental in building my confidence as a singer. I am now a professional opera singer, having sung with companies such as Glyndebourne, Garsington and English National Opera (in addition to having a great deal of concerts under my belt). I don’t believe I could have reached where I am without the time I spent at St Mary’s.

Yet above all, I remember St Mary’s most warmly for the community it provided. This includes, not just the choir, but the extended family of scholars past, as well as the congregation, all of whom are greatly supportive of the young scholars. Though no longer a regular singer there, I would happily return, and know I would feel back home. 

Scarlett Taylor (soprano) graduated in 2021 before studying for a Masters in Music Therapy with Nordoff Robbins in Newcastle.

My three years as a St Mary’s Choral Scholar turned out to be the most rewarding aspect of my university experience and I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to audition. Inevitably, moving to a new city was daunting, but I was welcomed into the choir with open arms, and introduced to a wealth of opportunities that have equipped me not only as a musician but as a young adult too. The responsibility of being a choral scholar allowed me to experience incredible leadership and direction, and the versatile music rotation really developed my sight-reading ability and organisation. The confidence I gained from St Mary’s encouraged me to immerse myself in university life, successfully auditioning as both a choral and orchestral conductor, and joining new societies regularly. During my time at St Mary’s, I had the opportunity to go on tour to Germany, perform with incredible soloists and ensembles, and learn some of the biggest, most pivotal canon works. Alongside incredible musicianship, St Mary’s provided a consistently supportive atmosphere from which I made friends for life. When you become a St Mary’s scholar, you are immersed into an environment where you learn from, celebrate with and are respected by your colleagues. A particular highlight is the annual Scholars’ Concert where the scholars organise a showcase of our talents, and the choice of music is entirely in our hands!

I am now a trainee music therapist in Newcastle, studying a master’s degree in Music Therapy with Nordoff Robbins, the largest music therapy charity in the UK. My experience at St Mary’s enabled me to become Newcastle Cathedral’s first Choral Scholar Singing Leader where I support the girls’ choir and teach choral music in primary schools as part of an outreach programme.

Greg Link (bass) graduated in 2014.  He is a freelance singer and choir leader and sang with the internationally-renowned group Apollo 5 until 2022.

My time as a choral scholar at St Mary’s was brilliant and absolutely invaluable in my development as a singer. The quality of music-making is excellent and performing so regularly with the choir massively improved my musicianship and understanding of a wide range of repertoire. After my time in Nottingham, I joined the vocal ensemble Apollo5 and sang with the group for nine years; my experiences with St Mary’s prepared me so well to transition into a full-time professional singing job. Aside from the musical benefits, the choir of St Mary’s is incredibly welcoming and I made life-long friends during my three years there. It is not an understatement to say that my time in Nottingham inspired me to become a professional musician and I will always value my time at St Mary’s, and would recommend it to anyone.

Jane Phillips (soprano) graduated in 2014 after studying Medicine at the University of Nottingham.  She is now a busy hospital doctor.

I applied to be a choral scholar at St Mary’s during the first semester of my medical degree at University of Nottingham, after hearing about it through a fellow medical student who sang there. It is safe to say it was easily the best decision I made at university and one of the greatest privileges of my life to sing with them throughout my 5 years at medical school. The standard of music was excellent, covering a wide range of repertoire, and we got to perform across the UK and Europe on some very memorable trips! Above all of this though, was the very active social side; the group were so welcoming and quickly became like family to me. Getting to sing multiple times a week with your best mates was only ever an honour, and those close friendships continue, now years on.

A medical degree is notoriously full-on, but I never felt that St Mary’s commitments impacted on my degree. In fact, I was a much better student for it as I was more focused in my time off and I relied on my time at choir for my sanity. Singing with St Mary’s completely shaped my medical school experience in the most positive way possible, and I would highly recommend St Mary’s to anyone interested!