Clare welcomes its first ever female Organ Scholar

The College is delighted to welcome its first ever female Organ Scholar, Eleanor Carter, who matriculates in October this year to read Music, and comes from Guildford in Surrey, where she was a music scholar at Tormead School.

Commenting on this historic event, Director of Music Graham Ross said ’For a progressive College that was founded by a woman and was one of the first to admit female undergraduates 44 years ago, it’s high time that we had a female Organ Scholar joining the distinguished line of male predecessors. I am thrilled that Ellie was successful in applying to Clare, and I much look forward to working with her for the next three years and welcoming her into the Clare musical family.’


Ellie joins an illustrious lineage of former Clare Organ Scholars, including Ivor Bolton, Stephen Farr and James McVinnie.  In her role as Organ Scholar she will assist Graham Ross in his work with the Choir in Chapel including three services a week during the academic terms, and a full external schedule of concerts, tours, recordings and broadcasts.  She has already been in College since mid-September, assisting the Director of Music for vocal assessments for Choral Scholarships, though she says she is very much looking forward to the start of term and meeting other new students too.


Ellie has been playing the organ since she was nine years old, quickly going on to study with Katherine Dienes-Williams at Guildford Cathedral.  Having started playing the piano aged six, she says it was intimidating to try out playing an organ at first, but like all instruments, once you have mastered the technique it starts to become more natural.  She enjoys the fact that the organ also allows for quite a lot of creativity particularly in Church services.  Ellie also plays cello, and intends to continue this while she is at Clare, as well as the organ.  On top of keeping up with her studies reading Music, she hopes to find time to be involved in Clare College Music Society (CCMS), as well as her extensive commitments as Organ Scholar.  She feels her biggest challenge is going to be time management because of all the commitments, and opportunities, available.


Ellie wasn’t aware that she would be the first female organ scholar at Clare when she applied.  She applied to Clare because of the opportunity to work with Graham Ross, its amazing musical reputation, and the number of services – she intends to share the playing at the three weekly services with the Assistant Organist this term, rather than them alternating doing a full service.  She is also immensely honoured to learn that she has been given John Rutter’s old room in Memorial Court – so no pressure there then!


Her favourite composers are Mozart for piano, Bach for organ, and Brahms for cello.  She has recently studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Anne Marsden Thomas and Peter Holder.


She particularly enjoys Chamber music and has played with the National Youth Chamber Orchestra and the International Chamber Music Academy for several years, at prestigious venues including Wigmore Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall.