The University of Birmingham enjoys one of the liveliest music-making scenes of any campus with a wide variety of ensembles organised by the Department of Music, University Music Society and the Guild of Students.
Music Department Ensembles:
Birmingham University Singers
This chamber choir (up to 30 people) is run by the Department of Music but is open to singers from all parts of the university. It gives two concerts per year and also sings regularly in churches: our weekend visit to Tenbury, Worcestershire, just before each Christmas is a highlight of the year and the choir also undertakes a cathedral residency each summer (Truro and Christ Church Oxford are the two most recent). Birmingham University Singers rehearse every Monday 7.45 - 10pm in the Dome Rehearsal Room.
This small orchestra is run by the Department of Music but non-music students are welcome to join; the audition for the two main orchestras serves as the audition for this ensemble too. The Chamber Orchestra rehearses in two intensive weekends during the Spring Term culminating in a public concert. Recent music performed includes music by Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Grieg and Haydn.
Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) is one of the leading international systems for the presentation of electroacoustic music. Relatively unique as a large-scale touring loudspeaker orchestra, BEAST is now capable of mounting systems with in excess of 100 discrete channels, and this year celebrates 30 years of innovating and leading in the field. BEAST is directed by Professor Jonty Harrison.
If you are interested in early music and would like to study on a period instrument or take vocal lessons with one of our specialist teachers, then you can join the activities of the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research. With a focus on period performance practice, CEMPR co-ordinates a number of ensembles (for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students) who receive coaching from some of the leading professional in the field, and give concerts in the Bramall Music Building and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. For details about tuition and how to get involved please contact Dr Paul Rodmell (Acting Director of CEMPR) P.J.Rodmell@bham.ac.uk
New Music Ensemble
The department's New Music Ensemble gives regular performances of contemporary music, and performs student works in both concerts and workshop sessions. Recently performed composers include Reich, Boulez and Dallapiccola. This ensemble involves enthusiastic students from the Department of Music and some musicians from other departments.
Please note that NME auditions do not take place as part of the main audition process detailed below. Please contact Christina Holmes (details below) for more information.
BEER was founded in 2011 as a research project within the Music Department to explore aspects of realtime electroacoustic music making. Particular interests include networked music performance and live coding.
University Music Society Auditioned Ensembles*
This small auditioned ensemble gives at least two concerts per year in a mixture of formal and informal settings. It plays a wide variety of music from early jazz classics of the 1920s and 30s right through to recently composed and arranged numbers.
Birmingham Symphonic Brass (Brass Dectet)
A new addition to the Department of Music, this brass dectet offer symphonic brass players the opportunity to perform core repertoire and works with organ as part of the University Degree Ceremonies and at other high profile events. Annual auditions will be held for this ensemble and the ensemble will be coached by professional brass tutors. For audition information or to book the group for an event please contact Christina Holmes, C.Holmes@bham.ac.uk
Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra
We run two full-sized orchestras of equal standing; each one gives one concert with the University Choir and one concert on its own, and is conducted by professional conductors and members of Music Department staff. The general standard of players is around Grade 7-8 but orchestral experience is just as important as an exam result.
University Music Society unauditioned ensembles*
The Brass Band is a student run ensemble which gives two concerts per year, often joint with the Wind Band. The band plays a wide variety of music, from traditional brass standards to film music and arrangements of pop classics.
This is a small choir (up to 35 people) conducted by students that gives two concerts per year. They perform a range of music, from traditional classical choral works, to modern contemporary arrangements of popular songs.
The Saxophone Ensemble is one of the liveliest ensembles, playing a wide variety of purposely arranged and composed music. This group gives two concerts per year, not to be missed!
This large choir of approximately 200 voices gives two concerts per year in Birmingham’s world-renowned Town Hall. The Choir is conducted by professional conductors and members of the Music Department staff. Works performed recently include Haydn's Nelson Mass, Fauré Requiem and Verdi Requiem.
This is a student-conducted ensemble of brass, woodwind and percussion players, giving two concerts per year, often jointl with the Brass Band. The Wind Band perform a diverse selection of music from Holst’s Military Band Suites through to Harry Potter and Star Wars.
The Chamber Ensembles group is the newest addition to the UMS. It has been set up to get like minded musicians together to form small chamber groups. Informal platform sessions are held throughout the year, in order for groups to gain constructive feedback from their peers. There is one Chamber Ensembles concert each year, usually near the start of the Spring Term.
For more information on all UMS ensembles please visit www.ums.org.uk
Other University music-making organisations:
The UMS and Department of Music are not the only people on campus devoted to music making: there are several more societies based in the Guild of Students, many faith groups organise musical activities and some other departments have their own ensembles.
Guild Music Theatre Group: A student-run group that stages two or three popular musicals a year.
Chamber Music Society: A society which enables students who wish to play chamber music, but who don't have a regular ensemble, to come together.
Jazz and Blues Society: A student-run society promoting both participation and appreciation of Jazz and Blues.
Summer Festival of Music: A week long annual student-run festival including an opera production and concerts by various ensembles in collaboration with the UMS and Department of Music.
*Auditioned Ensembles: Auditions take place in the first week of term. More information, and sign up sheets, will be available from the Bramall Music Building during the Freshers' Fayre or on the UMS notice board.
*Unauditioned Ensembles: If the ensemble is listed as unauditioned then please just turn up at the first rehearsal to register.
NB. All ensemble members will be required to sign an ‘Ensemble Contract’. An example contract will be available for you to see on the UMS notice board.
If you have any queries, or require any further information, please contact Christina Holmes, University Music Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)121 414 3280.