Liverpool’s Blue Coat School launches new organ scholarship

Blue Coat Organ Scholarship will significantly increase the number of young people learning to play the organ and aims to attract a wide-diversity of students

Blue Coat
Blue Coat music students and organ players Dan Greenway, left, and Simon Cheung, right, with Blue Coat For All project manager Peter Elson


Liverpool’s Blue Coat School aims to boost the number of UK young organists – and especially female players – with a new organ scholarship hailed as being “unsurpassed outside London”.

Offering tuition on its own two pipe organs and two cathedral organs, fundraising for the new Blue Coat Organ Scholarship began with the launch of the Pipe Up campaign for people to sponsor any of the School’s historic Father Willis’ 1,224 pipes, ranging from £10 for the one and a half inch octaves to the 16ft octaves at £250.   

The Blue Coat Organ Scholarship will significantly increase the number of young people learning to play the organ and as Blue Coat School is a co-educational state grammar school, not only will it attract a wide-diversity of students but also increase the number of female players in a male-dominated area of music.

The Scholarship is made possible with the award of a £180,600 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for the School’s Blue Coat For All project centred on the restoration of its Father Willis organ, plus a further £32,155 raised by match funding for the project from charitable trusts and donations from friends of the School.

The NLHF grant will allow the school to use the restored Father Willis organ for community outreach schemes, such as public organ and choral concerts for the first time and workshops for primary and specialist schools’ pupils.

Once this museum-quality, 1874-built Father Willis peerage-style organ’s restoration is completed by Henry Willis & Sons in winter 2019, a pilot scholarship scheme will be launched using this organ and the School Chapel’s 1906-built Walker organ.

In addition, it is planned for students, both from the Blue Coat School and externally, to be tutored on Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s Willis organ (the UK’s largest organ) and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s Walker organ.

Mike Pennington, The Liverpool Blue Coat School headteacher, said: “The NLHF grant means we shall not only be able to restore our rare Father Willis organ, but also launch our Blue Coat Organ Scholarship, combining the organ resources of our school with those of the two great Liverpool Cathedrals will create a superb national music training opportunity for young people.”

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