Cathedral Voice

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May 2, 2024

Organ Scholars at Hampton Court

Read the latest news from Cathedral Music Trust

Meet the Organ Scholars currently in post at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace.

Samuel Kemp – Gordon Reynold Organ Scholar

Person sitting at the organ

My name is Samuel Kemp, and I have had the honour to be the Gordon Reynolds Organ Scholar at HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court since September 2023. It is an exceptionally rewarding post to be in, and have found working with the wonderful Carl Jackson and my amazing organist colleagues a thoroughly gratifying and fulfilling experience.

I began my musical training as a violinist at the age of 5, but started learning the piano at the age of 7, joining The Purcell School for Young Musicians in September 2015.
Around 2015-16, at my local Catholic church, I played the organ on an ‘ad hoc’ arrangement, but commenced professional studies in the instrument soon afterwards, gaining much satisfaction from doing so! Simultaneously, my composition studies accelerated and before long I began to undertake professional commitments in both the organ and compositional fields. After sixth-form organ scholarships at St Michael-with-St Mary’s, St. Albans and All Saints, Leighton Buzzard, I was appointed at the Chapel Royal upon finishing at The Purcell School in July 2023.

My time at the Chapel Royal has been utterly invaluable for my planned future in the sacred music field, which has taken a further step recently, as I have been appointed organ scholar-elect of Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge.

In all, my experience so far at HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court has been a thrilling experience, and I thoroughly hope to keep my connections with the Chapel and those who work there very strong in future years.

James Huxley-Jennings – Junior Organ Scholar

Person sitting at the organ

I first became interested in the organ whilst still a chorister at the Chapel Royal, hearing it every week in services, and I was especially intrigued by the terminology used by the organist and the Director of Music, Mr Jackson. As a result I started having lessons with Will Fielding, the organ scholar at the Chapel at the time, when I was 11, and then carried on lessons with Iestyn Evans (who is also the Director of Music at St James’ Spanish Place in London).

I love playing at the Chapel Royal because of the rich musical history there, such as its connection with Tallis, Byrd and Purcell. The Harrison & Harrison restored organ has a fantastic sound and is exquisite for choral accompaniments, having a colourful Swell and a bright-sounding Great division as well as a Tudor-sounding Choir division due to the old pipe work, which suits that period of music so well.

Highlights of my organ playing so far have included giving my first recital last summer at St Mary’s in Haverfordwest, and also having opportunities through music to play other great organs such as at Salisbury, St David’s (both Harrison & Harrison) and at Buckfast Abbey (Ruffatti). I enjoyed playing at St Clement Danes for the London Organ Competition, and I’ve twice attended the Oundle for Organists summer course where I’ve not only had the chance to meet other organists and play a variety of different organs around Oundle and some Cambridge colleges, but also take part in inspiring masterclasses with fabulous tutors – those with Peter Wright, Francesca Massey and Martin Baker stand out in particular. I even attended a super recital one year by George Herbert – who then came to the Chapel Royal as the new Assistant Director of Music! More recently I attended a fantastic masterclass with Daniel Moult at the Barnes Music Festival where I received guidance on a Bach prelude I’d been working on.

For the future, I want to extend my knowledge of Bach and start working on some of Vierne’s organ pieces, and develop skills in improvisation. I am thinking of a possible organ scholarship for the future but first have to get my GCSEs!

© All images of The Chapel Royal are reproduced with the gracious permission of HM The King.