Monday 12 July – Sunday 18 July
A week of intensive tuition for young organists during the Oundle International Festival.
Our Summer School is back! Full details of our tutors and other information will be announced by 10 December, but we are all excited about seeing you again (we hope!) in 2021.
The OfO Summer School, founded 36 years ago, is the perfect week for a young organist. Our renowned tutors will guide and inspire you; you’ll gain new insights into your playing every day. You’ll make friends and spend time with kindred spirits, and you’ll broaden your musical horizons by experiencing memorable performances in the Oundle International Festival.
When? 10.30am on Monday 12 July - 4pm on Sunday 18 July 2021
Where? Oundle and surrounding villages. Cambridge visits will be confirmed if Covid protocols change.
Who? Organists around the ages of 14 – 23, from roughly Grade 6* standard through diploma level. Students will be grouped according to their level of experience.
Tutors (see below for biographies):
- Ann Elise Smoot (Director, OfO)
- Katherine Dienes-Williams (Organist and Master of the Choristers, Guildford Cathedral)
- Richard Hills (Organist of St Mary's Bourne Street; equally at home in the classical and theatre organ genres)
- Anna Lapwood (Director of Music, Pembroke College, Cambridge)
- Richard Pinel (Director of Music, Jesus College, Cambridge)
- William Whitehead (International recitalist and Curator of the Orgelbüchlein Project)
- Mark Williams (Informator Choristarum, Magdalen College, Oxford)
All of our tutors have pursued wide-ranging careers and are performers and teachers who are not only of the highest calibre, but also friendly, approachable, and eager to help you become the best musician you can be. Their full biographies will be published here in the New Year.
Oundle for Organists reserves the right to alter course content, including tutors, should the need arise.
*Please contact us if you are unsure about your playing level but would like to come on the course.
Covid safety guidelines and hygiene procedures will be rigorously adhered to, and there will of necessity be some differences from previous Summer Schools, but the basic components of fun, intensive learning, and friendship will remain the same. As guidelines change, so too may the format of the course, but all being well we are looking forward to seeing students here in Oundle in July.
As of yet, we are uncertain as to how many students we will be able to house. We are also uncertain as to whether or not we will be able to house them at Oundle School. The sooner we get applications in, the sooner this information will become clear!
The 2021 course fee is £675. Due to our booking process being so altered this year, we will be charging everyone at the same flat rate; there will be no discount available for early booking. This still represents a saving on the standard booking fee of last year (£690).
A non-refundable deposit of £200 will be asked for on 15 April with payment due by 1 May. In the event of non-payment of deposit, your place will be offered to someone on our waiting list. (For bursary applicants, the timeline and procedure on this will vary, and we will advise you about this; please do not be concerned.)
Deposits will only be refunded in specific circumstances, such as:
- Cancellation of the course due to government restrictions
- A student, or someone in his/her household testing positive for Covid within 14 days of the start of the course or being advised by a doctor or the NHS test and trace app to self-isolate. We will require written documentation to support this
- A student being placed under any other government restrictions preventing travel to Oundle
In all other circumstances, refunds will only be issued at the discretion of the Director of OfO.
Payment of the full course fee will be required by 15 June. In the event of non-payment of the fee, the place will be offered to those on our waiting list. Again, this timeline may vary for bursary students, for example if the funding body providing the bursary has not yet released the funds to us.
Refunds for course fees will only be issued as for the deposits.
How to apply
Please fill in a course application right away, available HERE. This is particularly important if you have never been registered for an OfO course in the past, but please do this even if you were already enrolled in one of our 2020 courses as we need to have the most up to date information about you. You will also need to provide an up to date reference from your teacher.
New bursary applicants should also fill in the Bursary application form HERE.
If you were awarded a bursary for our 2020 Summer School last year, you may not need to fill in the Bursary Application again if your circumstances have not changed. Please email the firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
The procedure for allocating places for the OfO Summer School is as follows:
- Places will first be offered to those who booked onto our 2020 Summer School. In case of over-subscription from this group, places will be allocated in the order that applications for 2020 were received. We ask this group to indicate their intention to take up their priority place once full details of the course are published on 10 December 2020. If you were enrolled on our 2020 Summer School, and would like to take up your priority place, you will need to let us know of your intention to do so by 20 December.
- Places will then be offered to those who have registered interest/applied (so please do so straight away!), again in the order that those expressions of interest and/or applications were received, and again with a deadline for responses. If you registered interest with us already, we have you on a list and you will receive priority treatment in this group; please do fill in an application form for us as we hope to be able to accommodate you!
- Places will then be opened up to applications at large, should space permit.
‘My week at Oundle has been one of the most memorable of my life so far. Never before have I encountered so many young and like-minded people, and I have come away feeling that I have made some life-long friends.’ – 2018 Summer School Student
If you are interested in joining us, or in finding out more, it is vital that you register your interest with us as soon as possible on
Unfortunately, the number will be able to accept may not become clear until at least February, when we hope to know more from Oundle School.
As always, do not let finances stop you from applying. We can help you find funding, and in some cases can provide it ourselves. We have never turned a student away for financial reasons.
For all the lastest news, visit our Facebook page by following this link
We use a great collection of organs both in Oundle and in nearby villages. These include:
3-manual and pedal Frobenius
in Oundle School Chapel
2-manual and pedal Bower
in the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
2-manual and pedal Woodstock
in Fotheringhay Church
2-manual and pedal Harrison & Harrison
in Woodnewton Church
2-manual and pedal Lewis
in Elton Church
3-manual Father Smith
2-manual Grant, Degens and Bradbeer
Katherine Dienes-Williams, MA, BMus, FRCO, LTCL, Hon. FRSCM, Hon. FGCM was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral in January 2008 following six years as Director of Music at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Warwick. She is also the Musical Director of the Winchester-based chamber choir, Southern Voices. Katherine was born and educated in Wellington, New Zealand and studied for a BA in Modern Languages and a BMus at Victoria University, Wellington. Katherine was Organ Scholar at Wellington Cathedral from 1988 to 1991 when she was appointed Assistant Organist there. Katherine came to England in 1991 to take up the post of Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Organist at Winchester College. She has also held posts as Organist and Assistant Director of Music at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, Assistant Organist and Director of the Cathedral Girls’ Choir at Norwich Cathedral prior to moving to Warwick as Director of Music at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary. She is a Council member of the Royal College of Organists and a trustee of the Organists Charitable trust and is regularly asked to be a guest choral workshop leader for the Royal School of Church Music in the UK, South Africa, the USA, Canada and Australia. Katherine has given several organ recitals in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, U.S.A., Bermuda, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, Spain and Singapore. She has performed as organ soloist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé, the City of London Sinfonia, Southern Pro Musica and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018 she performed the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony in the London’s Royal Festival Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and again in May 2018 with Southern Pro Musica in Guildford Cathedral. She is also active as a composer, having received several commissions both in the UK, the USA and New Zealand. Katherine holds a Master of Arts in Music and Liturgy from Leeds University. She features both as organist and choral conductor on several recordings. She is in demand as a choral workshop leader in the UK, the USA and several other European countries. In 2017 she directed the St. Thomas’ girl choristers’ course at St. Thomas’ Church Fifth Avenue, New York, USA and the RSCM Lincoln Cathedral summer girl choristers’ course. In summer 2019 she directed the St. Thomas’ girl choristers’ course in New York. This coming summer 2021 she will tutor on the Oundle Organists’ course in the UK and in 2022 will direct the RSCM advanced trebles course in Washington DC.
Richard Hills is widely acknowledged as one of the very few musicians to have bridged and mastered the divide between the classical and theatre organ worlds. Having studied with William Whitehead at Rochester Cathedral he went on in turn to the organ scholarships of Exeter College Oxford, Portsmouth Cathedral and Westminster Abbey where his teachers included Rosemary Field and David Sanger. He now combines a freelance solo career with continuo, choir-training and teaching work and is the Organist of St Mary's, Bourne Street, a central-London church noted for its Anglo-Catholic Liturgy and fine musical tradition. Richard’s career in the theatre organ world has been equally prestigious. He has numerous prizes and awards to his credit, both in this country and in the USA, where he was named 'Organist of the Year' in 2010 by the American Theatre Organ Society. He has appeared many times as a soloist on national and international TV and Radio in programmes as diverse as BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong and BBC Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night, and he made his solo debut at the BBC Proms in 2013. He returned again to the Proms as a soloist in 2015, and appeared with the BBC Scottish Symphony and John Wilson Orchestras during the 2019 Proms season. 2019 also saw a solo recital at London’s Royal Festival Hall, alongside concerts in the USA, Europe and Sweden. His many recording credits include, most recently, a disc of British music made on the magnificent dual-purpose Compton organ of Southampton's Guildhall, which earned a five-star review in Choir and Organ magazine. Richard is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and a strong supporter of the work of the UK’s Cinema Organ Society, to whom he serves as Musical Adviser.
Anna Lapwood is a conductor, organist and broadcaster and is the Director of Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Anna conducts multiple choirs at Pembroke, most notably the Chapel Choir and Girls' Choir, who made their debut recording in 2019. As part of her role at Pembroke she runs an annual Bach-a-thon, bringing together teams of organists of all ages to perform the complete organ works of Bach in 24 hours. Anna is particularly passionate about encouraging young women to explore careers in church music, setting up the 'Cambridge organ experience for girls' in 2018. Alongside her work at Pembroke, Anna has a busy career as a concert organist, kickstarted by her time as an organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. Recent highlights have included a recital from St David's Hall, Cardiff, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and recording her debut album including her own transcription of Britten's Four Sea Interludes. 2021 will see her make her concerto debut with the London Chamber Orchestra, and perform as a soloist at the Royal Albert Hall. Anna is also a broadcaster, appearing regularly as a contributor for BBC Radio 3 and presenting BBC Four's television coverage of BBC Young Musician.
Richard Pinel is a Fellow and the Director of Music at Jesus College, Cambridge, Director of the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy. Prior to this he was Assistant Director of Music at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He previously held the organ scholarship at St Albans Cathedral. Hailing from Northampton, Richard was awarded the organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford in 2002. During this time, the Grammy-nominated college choir undertook several recording projects with Harmonia Mundi, on which Richard’s playing was hailed as ‘a force of nature’. More recently, Richard has enjoyed competition success, winning the First Prize and both special prizes at the Breda International Organ Competition. Richard has taught for the RCO and tutored for Oundle for Organists. His CD, L’Orgue Symphonique, has been praised for its ‘electrifying impact’ and ‘truly tremendous verve’. Recitals have taken him across the UK, notably King’s College, Cambridge and St John’s, Smith Square and further afield to Europe and the USA.
Ann Elise Smoot performs throughout the United States, Great Britain and Europe, with a repertoire that ranges from the 14th century to the present day. Her recital career was launched by success in major competitions and she has received wide critical acclaim for her ability to move between musical eras, styles and genres with sympathy and flair. After completing two degrees at Yale, where she won several prizes for scholarship and for organ playing, she moved to England, where she studied organ and harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music, and privately with Peter Hurford and Dame Gillian Weir. Education has also been a major focus of her career. Ann Elise was a Professor of Organ at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and for 15 years was director of the St. Giles Junior Organ Conservatoire, a unique and highly successful programme for teenage organists, preparing them for university organ scholarships and places in major conservatoires. She was also the Education Editor of The Organists’ Review magazine from 2011-2015. In 2014 she became the Director of Oundle for Organists. Ann Elise is Chair of the Dr Martin Clarke Young Organ Scholars Trust and a frequent examiner for the Royal College of Organists. Three critically acclaimed recordings have been issued on the JAV label.
William Whitehead has gained a wide reputation for his engaging and inspiring interpretation of the organ repertoire. His concert career was given a boost when he won first prize at the Odense International organ competition in Denmark, 2004. Since then he has travelled widely giving concerts in Europe and the US. Recent venues include The Royal Festival Hall (his debut at this venue), Westminster Cathedral, The Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms, Erfurt Cathedral and Lisbon Cathedral. A recorded artist on dozens of discs, he is most recently to be heard as organ soloist in Handel’s Op 7 No 1 Organ Concerto with the Gabrieli Consort and Players (Winged Lion label). His work as a continuo player brings him together with groups such as the Gabrieli Consort, Solomon’s Knot, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Proms 2019). 2015's Proms saw him appear with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Trained at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music, William Whitehead is now a sought after organ teacher, teaching many students at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Previously he has held appointments as Assistant Organist, Rochester Cathedral, and Director of Music at St Mary’s Bourne Street, and is now the Associate Organist of Lincoln’s Inn in London. He has been a professor at both the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music. As curator of the Orgelbüchlein project, William Whitehead is seeing through a large-scale project to 'complete' Bach's unfinished collection. More information is available at www.orgelbuechlein.co.uk. The first volume of six is available with Peters Edition.
Mark Williams has been Informator Choristarum, Organist and Tutorial Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford since January 2017. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge before going on to his first professional post as Assistant Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral and Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral School. Between 2009 and 2016, he held the post of Director of Music, College Lecturer and Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge. He has appeared as organist, harpsichordist and conductor internationally and on disc with many of the UK’s leading ensembles, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cambridge Singers, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, The King’s Consort, The Sixteen, Arcangelo, Retrospect Ensemble, and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. As a conductor he has worked with the London Mozart Players, Britten Sinfonia, and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and he is the Principal Guest Conductor of the City of London Choir. Mark Williams has given solo recitals, judged competitions and led masterclasses in choral training, singing and organ performance in the UK, the USA, Asia and Africa. He appears on over 40 discs and a number of soundtracks. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, he is a Freeman of the City of London, and a trustee of a number of charities focused on music education around the world. He is the Honorary President of the Chamber Choir of Erne Integrated College in Enniskillen and the Artistic Director of the William Byrd Festival which takes place each year in Portland, Oregon. He has worked with pop groups, crossover artists and appeared as conductor and organist on major Hollywood film scores, and he has acted as musical consultant for various television programmes, including the ITV crime drama, Endeavour.