Norwich High School for Girls continues musical success under the tutelage of Julian Haggett with new pipe organ scholarship

Posted on 27th January 2023

Year 13 Norwich High School Sixth Form Student Nora Rechel has secured the 2024 organ scholarship at Emmanuel College Cambridge.

Deputy Head Girl Nora secures prestigious organ scholarship at Cambridge

Year 13 Norwich High School Sixth Form Student Nora Rechel has secured the 2024 organ scholarship at Emmanuel College Cambridge. Member of the Deputy Head Girls Team, Nora completed three competitive interviews, three auditions and an aural test to secure the scholarship, which is the only one of its kind at Emmanuel. Nora is now focusing on her A Levels, as she hopes to study History at the college, and is applying for a cathedral organ placement for her gap year.

Mr Mark Hall, Director of Music at Norwich High School for Girls commented: “We are thrilled for Nora, who received her organ tuition here at Norwich High School for Girls as part of our outstanding performing arts programme, and with the support of Norwich organist Julian Haggett. Three of our music scholar organists – Nora plus Eve Kelleway in Year 12 and Lara Osbaldeston in Year 11, who are also tutored by Julian, will be performing in our Music Scholars’ concert at St Peter Mancroft, Norwich on Wednesday 1st February as part of our Winter Arts Festival.”

 “I love playing the organ and am glad to see that more women are playing the organ across the country. I am very excited to take up my place at Emmanuel, and really look forward to being part of the friendly community there.”

Year 13 Norwich High School Sixth Form Student Nora Rechel

Nora follows in the footsteps of Class of 2022 Alumna Alice Smith, who is currently completing an organ scholarship post at Peterborough Cathedral, and will be taking up her place to read Geography at Magdalene College in Cambridge from September 2023 with an organ scholarship.

Nora, along with Alice and other music scholars from Norwich High, are challenging the preconception of the pipe organ as an old fashioned instrument. They receive specialist tuition from organ teacher and organist at the city civic church of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, Julian Haggett.

We interviewed Julian to find out more about the organ, and what opportunities are available to organists beyond the school environment.

Interview with Julian Haggett

What’s your initial impression of the young musicians that you work with from Norwich High?

“The young musicians I work with from Norwich High School for Girls are bright, passionate about music and fully engaged in learning the organ. It is a pleasure to meet students who are confident, positive and full of ambition. A girls-only environment allows the opportunity for students to engage fully with subjects, enjoy learning without bias and reach their potential.”

What is your musical and professional background?

“I learned to play the organ while at school and attended organ courses where I gained recital awards. This, along with school performances and concert tours in the UK and Italy, inspired me to further my musical studies at university.

“I studied organ under the tutelage of Dr James Lancelot at Durham Cathedral as part of my Music BA undergraduate studies at The College of St Hild & St Bede, University of Durham. Following this, I took a postgraduate cathedral organ scholarship at Chichester Cathedral. At the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire I gained the MMus in organ performance under the tutelage of Professor Henry Fairs, and hold the Associateship diploma from the Royal College of Organists.

“My love of church music, concert performance and organ teaching has led to a portfolio-style career. I am organist at the city civic church of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, I teach organ in Norwich and London where I am an Associate Lecturer and examiner at Goldsmiths University of London. I am an accredited teacher and consultant at the Royal College of Organists, and work as an international concert artist where tours have taken me to festivals in Europe, Scandinavia and Asia.

What opportunities are available to organists in the wider world?

“There are many opportunities available to organists, whether this is with the organ at the heart of your future endeavours or as a notable skill that enriches your CV where it sits as that value-added extra like the DoE award scheme; playing the organ stands out.

“Before stepping into the working world, organ scholarships at university offer an excellent opportunity to further musical studies alongside subject studies. Often, there is opportunity to learn from professionals and hone additional skills in teamwork and other areas useful for life in the workplace after university.

“There are career opportunities in cathedral and church music, university and school music department positions, recital career opportunities (this has taken me to countries across Europe, Scandinavia and Asia), composition and electroacoustics. Or, for those interested in acoustics and the design side of things, there is a strong UK organ-building industry you could become a part of.

“If you see music as more of a hobby alongside a career in another field, then as an organist you can be sure to be in demand locally and will enjoy the rewards of making music with others in local choirs and choral societies.”