EX CATHEDRA | Scholars

Supporting talented young singers is very important to Ex Cathedra and Jeffrey Skidmore.

Being a professional choral singer is such a unique vocation, with no real guide book on how to go about your work. Training with Ex Cathedra is that guide book which every young singer wants – lessons in how to be a professional in a safe, supportive environment.” 
(Ellie Sperling, 2018-19 Scholar)

Our Scholars and Student Scholars rehearse and perform with us throughout a complete season, earning a guaranteed minimum income, gaining on-the-job experience alongside our professional singers, and giving high-quality performances of repertoire, which even during a challenging 2020-21 season has included music from Byrd and Scarlatti to music by Roxanna Panufnik, Penelope Thwaites and world premieres of pieces by Edward Caine, Liz Dilnot Johnson and Alec Roth.

Our 2021 Bach St John Passion was performed by 16 singers, 7 of who were current or former Scholars, including 3 of the soloists.

Jeffrey founded Ex Cathedra in 1969, and his track record of identifying and supporting young singers is unrivalled. A long list of singers to have benefitted from working with Ex Cathedra at the beginning of their careers includes Carolyn Sampson, Nigel Short, Paul Agnew, Benjamin Hulett, Andrew Tortise, Samuel Boden, Marcus Farnsworth, Patrick Dunachie, and many more.

Read more about our past and current Scholars and Student Scholars:


Each year, Scholarships are awarded to 4 of the UK’s most promising young singers, musicians who have recently completed their formal education and are at, or near, the beginning of their professional careers. This scheme is open to singers from across the country, and the successful candidates receive financial support of £4,000 each. We can reimburse certain expenses.

Applications for 2021-22 are now open, see How to Apply section below.

Student Scholarships

Additionally, Student Scholarships will be awarded to c.4 undergraduate or postgraduate students enrolled at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire each year.

Information on how to apply for 2021-22 will follow soon, please keep an eye on this page.

How it works

You will gain real life experience working with a professional choir, including time and diary management, and develop your singing in a professional and supportive environment by:

  • rehearsing and performing a wide range of repertoire, learning the different approaches required
  • observing further rehearsals and concerts given by our Consort of 10 professional singers
  • observing soloist rehearsals
  • attending termly one-to-one feedback sessions with Jeffrey Skidmore
  • accessing masterclasses
  • observing our Vocal Tutors as they deliver projects in schools and healthcare environments

By working alongside and learning from some of the UK’s finest professional singers, you should develop an invaluable network of contacts and raise your profile within the industry.

“With Ex Cathedra I really feel a sense of mentorship and support from the other professionals I sing with.” 
(Jacob Ewens, 2019-20 Scholar)

How to apply

Applications for graduate Scholarships for 2021-22 are NOW OPEN. To find out more – and how to apply – download our application pack (PDF, Word).

The deadline for applications is Monday 7 June, 9am. Late applications are unlikely to be accepted.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified on or by Friday 11 June and invited to attend an audition and workshop day on Thursday 17 June in Birmingham – save the date.

If you have any questions about your application, please don’t hesitate to contact as outlined in the application pack.

The application process for Student Scholarships for 2021-22 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thank you

We would like to thank the April Trust, Bernarr Rainbow Trust, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Eranda Rothschild Foundation, Fidelio Charitable Trust, The Fenton Arts Trust, Garrick Charitable Trust, Idlewild Trust, Mercers’ Company and the S&D Lloyd Charity for their generous support of this scheme, plus the donors who have donated to this scheme in memory of Alice Corser. Our thanks also to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire who support 4 of the Student Scholars each year.

If you, your company or your trust would like to support a Scholar in future, please contact Julie Watson, Grants & Individual Giving Manager.