The Martin and Geoffrey Shaw Organ Scholarship

The Musical Heritage of St Mary’s Primrose Hill

The rich musical heritage of St Mary’s Primrose Hill has its origins with its most famous vicar, Percy Dearmer (Vicar 1901-15), who with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Martin Shaw (organist of St Mary’s 1909-20) compiled The English Hymnal (1906). The congregation at St Mary’s was the first to sing many well-loved hymns such as ‘He who would valiant be’, ‘In the bleak midwinter’, and ‘For all the saints’. The musical tradition continued to be enriched by figures such as J H Arnold (the plainsong scholar), George Timms (Vicar 1952-65) who directed the publication of The New English Hymnal (1986), Tony Greening (teacher and early music scholar), John Rutter, the composer, (a one-time member of the Choir and Assistant Organist of St Mary’s) and a number of distinguished organists including Christopher Herrick, and the late Michael Fleming. The Peter Pears Prize singing competition started at St Mary’s in 1978 and was run here for sixteen years before it evolved into a major international event.

Music at St Mary’s Today

We believe in the importance of good music and liturgy, and see them as essential components of the spiritual life of the Church. St Mary’s has a warm acoustic, a fine 3-manual Hill organ, a concert grand piano, and one of the best non-professional choirs inLondon. The Choir sings every Sunday at the Parish Eucharist, at Choral Evensongs (once per month) and at occasional Feast days throughout the year. The music at St Mary’s is maintained to high standards by the current Director of Music, Tony Henwood (appointed 2008) and the Assistant Director of Music, Bryan Almond (appointed 1993). Various recordings have been made in recent years and the Choir has presented recitals inLondonandParis.

Not surprisingly, St Mary’s is a popular venue for many musical and cultural events. The Parish has a large Sunday School, and is linked toSt Paul’s CE Primary School. Together, these form an important network of children and families which we are continuing to develop in partnership with the school.

The Martin and Geoffrey Shaw Organ Scholarship

Job Description


Martin Shaw was organist at St Mary’s from 1909 to 1920, before moving to St Martin-in-the-Fields; his brother Geoffrey succeeded him, occupying the post at St Mary’s until 1930. The Shaws’ contribution to the furtherance of church music stretched beyond St Mary’s into the wider Anglican Communion through their scholarship, compositions and teaching.  With Percy Dearmer they were central figures in the development The English HymnalThe Oxford Book of Carols and Songs of Praise – and both composed fine hymn tunes still widely used to this day. In commemorating them through this organ scholarship it is hoped that the spirit and quality of their pioneering work in church music at St Mary’s during the beginning of the last century may live on in our own century.

Purpose of Job

The Parish of St Mary’s, Primrose Hill, intends to appoint an Organ Scholar for one year (including a 6 month probationary period) from 1 September 2018. The appointment may be renewed at the discretion of the Vicar and PCC, upon the recommendation of the Director of Music, for a further year. The scholar is to participate in, and further develop, the Church’s musical life in accordance with the traditions of St Mary’s and under the direction of the Director of Music.

Focus of Work

The duties of the Scholar will be agreed each year with the Vicar, Churchwardens, Director of Music, and Assistant Director of Music. These may vary according to the age, gifts and musical talents of the scholar. In general, the scholar is to:

i)    be a third member of the Music Team, sharing in the planning and organisation of the musical life of the church;

ii)    attend planning meetings and choir practices as the Director of Music shall determine;

iii)   accompany the Choir at rehearsals and services as directed by the Director of Music.

In addition, the scholar may sing in the choir when not required to play the organ.

Person Specification

  • The post is open to male and female student organists ideally aged between 16 and 25, wishing to gain experience of performance, accompanying and choir training, within a traditional Anglican Church music environment.
  • The post is open to non-Anglicans, but the scholar must be in sympathy with the traditions, ethos and worship of St Mary’s.
  • The scholar should have personal maturity and be prepared to work flexibly.

Selection Procedure

  • Applications for the position should be made to the Director of Music enclosing a curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details of two referees.

Conditions of Service

A          Terms of the Scholarship

The scholarship will commence on 1 September 2018 unless otherwise agreed with the Vicar. Unless terminated under paragraph E (see below), or by either party giving to the other not less than one month’s notice in writing, the scholarship will continue until 31 August 2019. This includes the probationary period of six months.

B          Reporting Arrangements and Organisational Position

i)  The scholar will be a full member of the music team responsible to the Director of Music.

C          Honorarium and Conditions of Service

i)  An honorarium of £1500 per annum (£125 per calendar month, paid in arrears) will be paid to the scholar.

ii)  Fees for the scholar to receive professional tuition (by a person approved in advance by the Director of Music) will be funded by the parish up to a maximum of £60 per month upon the submission of receipts.

iii)  The post is part-time, and the scholar must be flexible in the use of his/her time as the work develops.

iv)  The scholar will be present at least three Sunday mornings in every four to assist as required. The Scholar will be expected to be present at most Choral Evensongs (generally the first Sunday of the month), and generally at midweek evening services on Festivals (approximately six per year).  Sundays off shall be chosen in consultation with the Director of Music.

v)  The scholar shall be entitled to four Sundays off during the school summer holidays. Additional leave will be only by prior arrangement with the Director of Music.

vi)  The creativity and initiative of the scholar will be encouraged and supported. However, he/she must seek the approval of the Vicar and Director of Music before embarking upon any new musical activities at St Mary’s.

vii)  The scholar shall have use of the organ, grand piano and choir practice room piano without charge. All such usage is to be booked in advance in the parish diary to avoid conflict with other church users.

vii)  The scholar may not use church facilities for teaching or other purposes without receiving prior consent from the Vicar and Churchwardens.

viii)  If the scholar is prevented by illness (including mental disorder), accident, injury or other incapacity from properly performing his/her duties, he/she shall inform the Director of Music without delay. If the condition lasts for more than seven days, he/she shall provide a doctor’s certificate, so that the whole period of absence is certified. If the absence from work is duly certified, the scholar will be paid his/her honorarium for up to two calendar months. Thereafter, his/her honorarium will be reviewed.

ix)  The scholar is responsible for paying for his/her own transport to and from St Mary’s. Other expenses of office will be reimbursed monthly on submission of receipts.

x)  In accordance with the Child Protection Act and the Child Protection Policy of the parish, the successful candidate will be required to obtain statutory clearance under the enhanced disclosure provisions of CRB before the appointment can be confirmed.

D          Grievance Procedure

i)  In the unlikely event that disputes arise, in the first instance resolution should always be sought with the party or parties concerned. In the event of the scholar being aggrieved on any matter, he/she should bring the matter to the attention initially of the Director of Music. If the grievance concerns the Director of Music, he/she shall have recourse to the Vicar. In either case, a response shall be made to any grievance within seven working days.

ii)  If the competence of the scholar is called into question, the Director of Music shall discuss the matter initially with the scholar. If things remain unsatisfactory, he shall consult with the Vicar whose decision shall be final.

E          Termination of Scholarship

The Parish may suspend the scholarship of the post-holder, or terminate this agreement with immediate effect, if the scholar:

  1. commits any act of gross misconduct; or repeats or continues (after written warning) any other serious breach of the conditions of service;
  2. is guilty of any conduct which in the reasonable opinion of the parish brings him/her, the parish, or the Church into disrepute;
  3. is in the reasonable opinion of the Vicar and Churchwardens, after due consultation with the Director of Music, deemed to have insufficient competence in the performance of his/her duties.