St Mary's Ashwell

Choral Scholarships


At St Mary’s Parish Church in the North Hertfordshire village of Ashwell, we offer choral scholarships for up to four talented choristers who want to develop their singing ability further.  We are offering scholarships of £750 per annum to singers in the equivalent of Years 11, 12 or 13 whether at school or otherwise.

As a St Mary’s choral scholar, you will:

  • improve your singing voice
  • broaden your choral repertoire,
  • improve your sight-reading,
  • gain ensemble and solo experience
  • be ideal if you are considering a university choral scholarship

We require a commitment from you:

  • to attend choir rehearsals on Friday evenings (generally 7.30pm-8.30pm), and before the Sunday Eucharist (10.15am-10.40am)
  • to sing the sung Eucharist service each Sunday 10.45am – 12noon (other than the first Sunday of the month), and
  • to participate in other significant services/events (Carol Service, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Music Festival concert, and All Souls).

The St Mary’s choral scholarship is a wonderful way of gaining experience of singing at a high standard in a choir that covers a large repertoire of music, in four and occasionally up to eight parts. Highlights from the last few years include: Tallis – O nata lux; Byrd – Ave verum; Morley – Nolo mortem; Purcell – Remember not Lord our offences; Bach – Komm O Tod du schlafes Bruder, and Jesu Priceless Treasure; Pergolesi- Stabat Mater; Mozart – Lacrimosa (from Requiem); plus music by Bruckner, Berlioz, Vaughan Williams, Durufle, Wesley, Walford Davis, Elgar, Rheinberger, Rutter, Gjeilo, MacMillan and many others.  

As a St Mary’s choral scholar, you will be part of a long musical tradition in Ashwell evident today in a junior and a senior choir.  In the 1950s, the Reverend Jack Catterick’s chorister sons were key to the establishment of the Ashwell Music Festival which continues to this day.  In joining us, you will be expected to demonstrate commitment and musicianship to promote and sustain our choral tradition.

Our Director of Music, Bene’t Coldstream, will be delighted to assist scholars who want to pursue singing further, especially those who may wish to apply for choral awards at university.

This exciting opportunity to work with professional singer and conductor, Bene’t Coldstream, and our highly experienced organist John Rowlands should not be missed. 

John Rowlands learned to play the organ as a school-boy in North London, becoming the School Organist. He played for school assemblies, carol services and an annual evensong in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. After leaving school, John acted as deputy organist at St Andrew’s Totteridge, St Andrew’s Enfield and St Leonard’s Hythe (Kent). On moving to Ashwell in 1980, he joined the team of organists serving the Parish. He has lots of experience in working with St Mary’s choirs, taking practices and conducting the choir at services. John is now the main organist at St Mary’s

Bene't Coldstream read music at Keele University before developing his career as a tenor soloist. He has sung in many professional choirs including Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Margaret's Westminster and St Bride's Fleet Street. As an oratorio soloist he has sung in London venues such as Cadogan Hall, St Martin in the Fields, St Paul's Covent Garden, and further afield at the Snape Maltings in Suffolk. Recital performances have included Dies Natalis (Finzi) and Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings (Britten). Latterly Bene't has found conducting a real joy and is now Director of Music at St Mary's Ashwell as well as running their Junior Choir and a spin-off chamber choir, St Mary's Voices.


You should have some choral experience, a clear and confident singing voice and at least some sight-singing ability.  You do not need currently to be having singing lessons.  Enthusiasm for singing as a member of a team, together with a willingness to develop their musical talent, will be key factors in the appointment of our choral scholars.


Scholarships will be awarded after an audition in March 2022.  If you are shortlisted, you will be asked to perform a solo piece of up to five minutes in length and undertake sight-reading, aural tests and a short interview. Auditions will take place during the period from Saturday 12th to 19th March 2022.  Please indicate your availability for these dates on the application form.

To apply 

If you are interested, please read the terms and conditions here and then download and complete the application form and return it along with a current CV to Bene’t Coldstream, the Director of Music at St Mary’s, either by e-mail to:

Or by post to:

The Director of Music,

c/o St Mary’s Parish Office

The Parish Church Rooms

9 Swan St,




The closing date for applications is 28th February 2022 at 12 noon.