Birmingham Symphonic Brass
Director: Dr Stephen Roberts
Rehearsals: Alternate Friday evenings
Birmingham Symphonic Brass is a select student brass dectet that offers players the opportunity to perform core repertoire with organ as part of the University degree ceremonies and other high-profile events at the University. Directed by leading composer and conductor, Stephen Roberts, the ensemble perform regularly at concerts and events in the city, and recently played for the installation ceremony to formally welcome the University’s new Chancellor.
To book the group for performances or external events, please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.
Birmingham University Singers
Director: Bob Chilcott
Rehearsals: Monday 19:45 - 22:00
BUS is a mixed chamber choir of up to 45 auditioned singers directed by Bob Chilcott. Since its inception, the choir has gained a national reputation as one of the finest university choirs in the UK.
Rehearsing weekly and performing a wide and varied repertoire, the choir usually gives two concerts per year in the Elgar Concert Hall, plus a performance in Symphony Hall, Birmingham as part of University of Birmingham Voices. Their annual Festival of Lessons and Carols at St Michael’s, Tenbury, is a highlight of the academic year.
In recent years BUS has sung in Tewkesbury Abbey, Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford Cathedral’s, Clare College (Cambridge), the Royal Albert Hall, and Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod. Over the years BUS have had the opportunity to work with professional vocal ensembles, such as The Sixteen, Binchois Consort, Tenebrae, and Voces8. The choir has also developed a noted international reputation, having given concerts in Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland.
BUS has appeared under the baton of many distinguished guest conductors including Simon Carrington, Simon Halsey, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and Sakari Oramo. Recent collaborations have included performances with Jeffrey Douma and Yale Glee Club, Nigel Short and Tenebrae, and new commissions by Bob Chilcott and Toby Young.
Director: Jonathan Silk
Rehearsals: Tuesday 19:30 - 21:30
Jazz Orchestra is the University’s premier auditioned jazz ensemble, creatively directed by Director of Jazz Performance, Jonathan Silk. It explores contemporary music written for large jazz ensemble, working on theme-based projects over the course of the academic year.
In recent years the ensemble have worked on a variety of challenging musical projects; including interpretations of Kenny Wheeler’s Sweet Time Suite and Jim McNeely’s East Coast Blowout albums at CBSO Centre in Birmingham, a commission of new music by Olivia Murphy, as well as a performance alongside guest artist Iain Ballamy to present a concert of his own tunes arranged by Malcolm Edmonstone in the Elgar Concert Hall.
Previous guest artists have included world-renowned musicians such as Bobby Shrew, Stan Sulzmann, Mark Lockheart, Cherise, and Tom Ford. Jazz Orchestra appear on campus as well as in venues across the city.
New Music Ensemble
Director: Daniele Rosina
Rehearsals: Tuesday 17:00 - 19:00
The hand-picked New Music Ensemble is the university contemporary music group. Directed by Director of Orchestral Studies, Daniele Rosina, the ensemble explore new works by student and staff composers, as well as commissioning new music by renowned composers working across the UK. In past years, NME have performed works by composers including Steve Reich, Howard Skempton, Boulez, Berio, and Dallapiccola, and contributed to the University commemoration of the Armistice with a presentation of Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum. Most recently, the ensemble paired specially written student works with a performance of Andriessen’s M is for Man, Music, Mozart.
New Music Ensemble are a regular feature at the Department of Music’s CrossCurrents music festival.
Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra
Director: Daniele Rosina
University Music offers two full-sized auditioned orchestras of equal standing to students at the University. Each orchestra gives a termly concert in the Elgar Concert Hall, as well as regular concerts at other venues across the city including Town Hall, Birmingham. Both orchestras are directed by Daniele Rosina and the general standard of players is around Grade 7-8, but orchestral experience is just as important as an exam result. The orchestras receive coaching from a variety of professional musicians, including members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and other freelance orchestral musicians from across the UK.
In recent years the orchestras have performed a wide range of symphonic repertoire from Brahms and Sibelius to Takemitsu and Prokofiev, as well as worked with soloists of international standing. Collaborations have included performances of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Guy Johnston, Shostakovich’s second piano concerto with BBC Young Musician 2018, Lauren Zhang, and a world premiere of Daria Kwiatkowska’s Piano Concerto with Xenia Pestova.
- Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsals: Monday 17:00 - 19:15 & Wednesday 15:00 - 18:00
- Symphony Orchestra rehearsals: Thursday 18:00 - 21:00
Director: MA Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Monday 17:00 - 19:15
University Camerata is specially selected choir of up to 45 voices, created to work with the MA Choral Conducting students under the supervision of Professor Simon Halsey and University Chorus Director, Julian Wilkins. They rehearse once a week, focusing particularly on singing and conducting technique. Working with up to four student postgraduate conductors each year, University Camerata offers vocal students a platform to explore a large variety of a cappella choral repertoire.
University of Birmingham Voices
Director: Professor Simon Halsey & Julian Wilkins
Rehearsals: Bespoke Project Schedules
University of Birmingham Voices rehearse in the Spring for an annual performance alongside the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall. This symphonic choir is a chorus of approximately 120 students, including singers from Birmingham University Singers, University Upper Voices, University Camerata, and University Vocal Consort. Performances to date have included an Opera Choruses Gala (2015), a revue show of the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein (2016), and a critically acclaimed concert production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard (2017). The choir enjoy a strong relationship with the CBSO Chorus, and have collaborated with the choir in massed performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with John Wilson (2019), Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (2020), and Orff’s Carmina Burana (2023). Notably, the choir performed and recorded Stanford’s Requiem with the orchestra and Martyn Brabbins for Hyperion, marking 125 years since its commission by the Birmingham Triennial Festival in 2022.
University of Birmingham Voices remain in high demand and – alongside other vocal ensembles at the university – have returned to perform at the BBC Proms on a number of occasions. Highlights include three performances of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic in Birmingham, London, and Lucerne, as well as a performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Marin Alsop at the penultimate night of the festival in 2016. In 2017, the choir opened the Proms season with BBC Proms Youth Choir and Edward Gardner in a live televised performance of John Adams’s Harmonium.
University Upper Voices
Director: Mariana Rosas
Rehearsals: Monday 19:45 - 22:00
University Upper Voices was founded in 2013 to accommodate and nurture the wealth of strong upper voices at the University. In their first year they quickly made a name for themselves, placing 1st position in the Female Choirs Competition and securing a place in the Choir of the World final at the International Music Eisteddfod.
Conducted by Mariana Rosas, University Upper Voices have performed in the Elgar Concert Hall, Symphony Hall, Worcester Cathedral, and the Royal Albert Hall. In 2015 they worked with Juice Vocal Ensemble on a programme of contemporary women’s repertoire, including compositions by Daria Kwiatowska. In recent years they have focussed on celebrating historic and contemporary women composers, including Elizabeth Poston, Cecilia McDowall, Janet Wheeler, Sarah Quartel, and Eva Ugalde.
UUV has appeared under the baton of many distinguished conductors, including Jack Apperley, Patrick Barrett, Simon Carrington, and Simon Halsey. Recent projects have included commissioning new music by Paul Mealor and Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and a premiere performance of the complete set of new choral works, written especially for upper voices, published by Oxford University Press.
University Vocal Consort
Director: UG Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Thursday 17:00 - 18:00
University Vocal Consort is hand-picked choir of up to 20 voices, created each year to work with final year undergraduate conducting students. They rehearse once a week, focusing on recital repertoire, with occasional supervision from professional academic staff. The choir gives committed and experienced choral singers the opportunity to sing challenging repertoire in an a cappella small group setting.