The Music Tripos is designed for those interested in music as an academic discipline. Nonetheless, nearly all undergraduates reading music are keen and capable performers, and there are optional courses on instrumental or vocal performance in all three years.
Trinity has a long and distinguished musical tradition dating back to the early 14th- century association between King’s Hall (one of the smaller colleges from which Trinity was formed) and the Chapel Royal choristers of Edward II. Composers who have been members of the College include Richard Whyte, John Hilton, Walmisley, Stanford, and Vaughan Williams.
Music remains an important part of College life today and there are many opportunities for students to perform or conduct. The Trinity orchestra and chorus give termly concerts and there are frequent informal recitals by smaller groups or soloists. The College’s music building, located next to the Chapel, includes several practice rooms (two with harpsichords) and a spacious recital room. There is also a Steinway Model D piano in the Chapel for use by authorised advanced pianists.
The Chapel Choir, a mixed choir comprising about thirty choral scholars, normally has one or two vacancies each year for volunteer members. The Choir, which regularly broadcasts, records, and tours abroad, sings at four services in chapel each week in term time and also performs at other College events.
The University Music Faculty provides lectures on all Tripos courses, backed up by College teaching. Trinity has one full-time teaching Fellow in Music, Paul Wingfield, whose principal interest is analysis of nineteenth and twentieth-century music. Also involved in college music teaching is the Director of Music, Stephen Layton. For some of the specialist subjects supervisions are arranged with people outside the College who are experts in those particular fields.
In addition to guiding Music students through the University courses the College encourages them to pursue their own musical interests both academically and practically. It offers grants towards the costs of instrumental tuition, for vacation projects, and for travel and music-making abroad. Trinity has a good collection of music scores and texts; there is also a CD library.
The College welcomes applications from those who are inquisitive and enthusiastic about music, historically and analytically. A keen aural sense is essential; the ability to play a keyboard instrument at least moderately well is highly desirable. A reasonable fluency in writing harmony exercises is also desirable. Potential applicants are advised to take the Grade 8 Music Theory Examination of the Associated Board. Knowledge of a foreign language – especially French, German, or Italian – is helpful.
More information about the courses available in the Music Tripos is available on the Faculty website:
Interviews involve an unseen analysis, brief keyboard and aural tests, and a general discussion of topics in music. Candidates are also asked to sit a one-hour written test that requires them to harmonise phrases of a Bach chorale. We aim to admit about five candidates each year; conditional offers are typically A*AA, including Music but excluding Music Technology – comparable conditions are set for those taking the IB and other school-leaving examinations. Grade 8 Music Theory may be offered instead of Music A-level, or an EPQ in Music may be offered in addition to three A-levels.
- Dr Paul Wingfield