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On the Road to Cambridge to Study Historical Musicology


During his senior year of high school, Nick Walters ’20 first discovered his interest in choral music. He then spent his four years at Hamilton pursuing, exploring, and focusing that interest. And now, come October, he will start working toward a master’s degree in musicology at the University of Cambridge.

Walters will focus on Tudor musicology, examining and analyzing the history and context of choral composition from the 1400s to 1600s. By the end of his program, he will have written a condensed dissertation.

Walters decided to apply to the University of Cambridge while spending a year abroad at the University of Oxford. He said he chose Cambridge because a professor there has dedicated his career to Tudor music and had founded a choir that specialized in that time period. After hearing about this expert, Walters said, “I went over to Cambridge one day and was able to meet with him. And he was like, ‘Oh, you should apply for a master’s,’” Walters recalled.

Describing England as a “choral hub of the world,” Walters explained that studying in the UK would bring him close to his passions. “In England, they have a really, really long history of church choirs. Even today, you can go back, you can hear a choir that has literally existed for 600 years, and it’s still going on; they’re still singing all the daily services,” he said. 

Nick Walters ’20

Major: Music

Hometown: Concord, Mass. 

High school: Concord Academy

read about other members of the class of 2020 

Walters noted that Hamilton helped him further his focus on historical musicology and prepare him for graduate school. Through helping him learn the organizational and analytical skills needed for rigorous academics, sharpening his academic focus, and acclimating him to close-knit learning environments, both Hamilton and his high school, Concord Academy, led him to Cambridge.

“At Hamilton we do so much writing, and I think that if I had gone to a different college, maybe one that doesn’t have the writing requirements like Hamilton does, I might have approached [music] differently. … My high school, too. If I hadn’t gone to a school that emphasized writing, I might not be interested in music research. I might be a pianist, or a singer, or something like that.”

A music major at Hamilton, Walters conducted a musicology-based Emerson research project and sang with the College Choir, College Hill Singers, Masterworks Chorale, and with former choir director Rob Kolb at the Stone Presbyterian Church in Clinton.

Walters is eager to continue fostering the interests he developed at Hamilton and return to England, where he will have ample opportunities to discover and enjoy a variety of choirs.

And, if you’re interested in listening to some of his favorite music, Walters listed his favorite composers: Thomas Tallis, John Taverner, and John Sheppard for the Tudor period, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, and Maurice Duruflé for the contemporary crowd.

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