Music

The music course at Cambridge accommodates and encourages a wide range of disciplines, from composition and performance to analysis, history and musical sociology. The Faculty also has a strong Music and Science department.

Faculty website: www.mus.cam.ac.uk

St Catharine's College has a strong musical tradition, with a wide variety of musical activities - classical, jazz, choral, instrumental and 'world' - taking place throughout the year. For those reading Music and taking performance options, the College will pay for instrumental tuition fees up to a current annual limit of £420; students are also entitled to a keyboard instrument in their room to help with their studies (a piano, clavichord, or electric piano). Practice facilities are also available in College.

For further details about College Music, including information about Music Awards, the Choir, the Music Society and facilities for Music, please visit the Music pages.

While it is usual for Music students to play a musical instrument and/or sing, it is equally important to have a commitment to studying music as an academic subject. Music as studied at Cambridge today entails a wide variety of sub-disciplines, and we will consider candidates with a science background just as seriously as those with a background in arts subjects.

Please also note that an A Level in Music is no longer a specific requirement for reading music at Cambridge; we will also accept ABRSM Grade 8 theory as an alternative.

For interview, candidates to St Catharine's are usually invited to submit a couple of pieces of written work in advance. Applicants to St Catharine’s will have two interviews, covering technical aspects such as aural and keyboard skills, analytical acumen and more general musical knowledge and interests. At interview candidates will be asked to harmonize a melody at the keyboard, memorize a rhythm that is played at the keyboard, recognise some intervals, and comment on (1) some musical extracts and (2) a passage of musicological literature - these extracts/passages will be given to you half an hour in advance of the interview. The first interview will take 30 minutes, and the second will take up to 45 minutes.

I have been amazed by the range and variety of opportunity that has been available to me as a music student at St Catharine’s: much more than I could ever have expected. As well as the demands of an extremely rewarding three years as Organ Scholar, I have been able to develop my musicianship in other areas, particularly in chamber and contemporary music. The availability of two first-rate pianos, (the Chapel’s Steinway and the new Schimmel now installed in the SCR), has in my opinion considerably enhanced the College’s potential to provide for a high standard of music-making and will help to attract the best of the student population to perform at Catz.

Freddie Brown (2008), Scholarship winner at Royal Academy of Music

Unsure of whether I wanted to be an academic or a performer, I applied to Cambridge so I could sample first-rate experience in both avenues. I was offered a place at St Catharine's, and it was here that I had the opportunity to work with musicians and performers that would have been impossible elsewhere, and was given the space and support I needed to work out where my future lay. St Catharine's allowed me to work with them for an extra year after my graduation, and it is this and the College Society's financial support that led me to apply for music college. I have since been offered a job with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and it is no exaggeration to say that this would not have happened without the opportunities offered to me by the College.

Peter Mallinson (2005), violist with BBC Symphony Orchestra

 As a music student and choral scholar, St Catharine’s has enabled me to explore music on new levels. From being President of the Music Society to a founding member of two Catz-based chamber ensembles, I have been able to expand my interests and skills in ways I could never have imagined. Catz's inclusive environment, within a vibrant University music scene, provides opportunities and support for musicians of all subjects. Playing and singing alongside my college friends, staging concerts, and hearing world-class musicians in our very own Chapel are just some of the highlights of my experience.

Frances Leith (2012), Scholarship winner at Royal Academy of Music