King’s Ely student triumphant in 2024 Young Organists’ Competition

Posted: 14th May 2024

A SKILFUL musician at King’s Ely is celebrating success in a national competition.


Thomas Strudwick, who is in Year 10 at King’s Ely Senior, has been crowned the ‘Intermediate Class’ winner of this year’s Young Organists’ Competition. The contest is organised by the School Organists’ Association, which was launched in 2020 to support organists and organ teachers in UK schools.


Thomas, who is a former Ely Cathedral Chorister and who is heavily involved in the music scene at King’s Ely, submitted a video of him playing Buxtehude’s ‘Praeludium in C’ on the organ at Ely Cathedral.


Thomas, who also plays the piano and cello, joined King’s Ely Prep as a Year 4 pupil. He only started playing the organ in October 2022. Thomas said: “I am very surprised but extremely pleased to have won!”


Describing his winning piece, Professor Edward Higginbottom, the music scholar, organist, choirmaster, and conductor who adjudicated the competition, said: “A very fine performance. It had rhetorical swagger where needed, tight ensemble when that was required, brilliant passagework as the occasion arose, and an overall sense of improvisatory brilliance. Your fingers are in very good shape, not least in the lively trills. Excellent composure at the console. Many congratulations.”


In 2021, Thomas was commended in the Choir Schools’ Association (CSA) Willcocks Composition Competition. This was for ‘Sing to the Lord a New Song’, which he wrote himself earlier that year, and which was first performed as an introit at a Saturday Evensong at Ely Cathedral.


Mr Neil Porter-Thaw, who is Director of Music at King’s Ely, said: “Thomas’ musical journey thus far has been very impressive indeed. He works hard, and he is so passionate about his music. His feet are firmly on the ground, and he is always very modest about his achievements. I continue to be proud of his efforts and his dedication to become the very best that he can be.”


King’s Ely and Ely Cathedral provide a truly unique environment for young organists to develop their skills, including the offering of a Sixth Form Organ Scholarship. This outstanding opportunity is designed for a young organist seeking to apply for a University Organ Scholarship or Conservatoire course. It can also act as preparation for a gap-year Cathedral post. Former Ely Organ Scholars have gone on to prestigious University placements, including the Organ Scholarships of King’s, Girton, and Emmanuel Colleges in Cambridge, and most recently at Jesus College, Cambridge, where Miriam Reveley FRCO is the first female Organ Scholar in the College’s 500-year history.

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