University Music 

University Music is at the forefront of university level music-making and this sector-leading offer brings together public engagement, research, and student experience with the Music Society and Department of Music.

University Music

University Music engages over 600 students and 150 local residents and University staff members in an average year. With 1800 positions in 36 classical, early music, jazz, and experimental music ensembles and groups, University Music presents a series of public concerts, workshops with the region’s leading musicians, professional ensembles, and orchestras, and an extensive health and wellbeing programme. 2021/22 sees the introduction of folk music to University Music and the opening of a small ensemble recording studio.

University Music Linktree

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The University are continuously monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact. Therefore, during the 2020/21 academic year there will be changes to the ensembles, coaching, and workshops offered by University Music to ensure music-making is safe for students and staff whilst on campus. For further information, please follow the drop-down menu as below.

University Music Activity 2020/21

University Music are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students and staff to campus in 2020/21, and have planned a wide range of exciting activity across the academic year. As a result of COVID-19 however, there will be changes to the normal ensembles, coaching, and workshops offered by University Music to ensure music-making is safe for students and staff whilst on campus. The below outlines plans for University Music and Music Society activity in 2020/21 until Easter 2021, considering the limitations put in place because of COVID-19.

University Music will take a staged approach in rebuilding our offer and have met with representatives from other UK Music departments and Conservatoires responsible for running ensemble activity. This is to ensure that our offer is in line with that of other institutions, particularly with regard to our response to Health and Safety and student experience.

The key consideration for all of our planning has been the need to risk assess spaces in accordance with musician specific guidance. We are aware that this means some groups cannot run, but we will continue to review guidance in order to expand the offer over time.

Considerations:

  • Government guidance for musicians and the performing arts
  • Music course requirements UG and PG
  • University Music impact on student experience and wellbeing
  • Staff wellbeing
  • Community engagement
  • Ability to run sessions in ‘COVID-secure’ spaces

Looking forward, in order to participate in any of the activity, detailed below, this academic year you will initially be required to complete the University Music Virtual sign up form. Thereafter, you will then be contacted about individual groups based on your responses.

All participants must adhere to a COVID safety checklist for use of rooms and attending rehearsals. Details will be published before the start of rehearsals.

Autumn term UM activity:

  • Chamber Music (inc. CEMPR small groups), Creative Exchange and Jazz Collective groups of up to 6 players – professional support and coaching available. Outdoor / virtual performances in Welcome Week, Open Days and around Christmas.
  • Jazz Collective – supported with weekly online workshops with our freelance coaching team.
  • Staff Singers – trial social distancing / support staff wellbeing (not weekly)
  • Samba Band – trial social distancing with an open access group (Autumn only)
  • BMus/Scholars Choir – supporting UG singing students who take 1-1 lessons and trialling choral activity in groups of up to 30.
  • Symphonic Brass – will run after auditions in late October / early November to prepare for December graduations.
  • Conductor’s Workshops – un-auditioned ensemble conductors will receive professional coaching to support their development.

Spring term UM activity:

Our aim is to increase activity following Autumn term trials and develop programme to factor in platform time for UG/PG conductors, student/staff wellbeing, experience, and development. Include activities running in Autumn, plus the following subject to social distancing:

  • Sinfonietta – in lieu of the two main orchestras (20 players max in each session).
  • Jazz Orchestra – standard rehearsals.
  • Birmingham University Singers – standard rehearsals (30 singers max).
  • New Music Ensemble
  • University Camerata
  • UG Vocal Consort
  • University Women’s Choir
  • Flute Choir
  • Clarinet Choir

*N.B: ensembles not listed are considered too large to accommodate and / or cannot run due to scheduling. Ensembles not running would continue to work online / virtually until the Summer Festival of Music 2021, if necessary.

Autumn Weekly Schedule using Dome and Elgar Concert Hall:

Monday

  • ECH – 13.00-14.00: Staff Singers (Conductor: MA’s)
  • Dome – 17.10-22.00: Chamber Music groups
  • ECH – 18.00-20.00: BMus/Scholars Choir (Conductor: Simon Halsey)

Tuesday

  • Dome – 17.30-21.30: Jazz Collective
  • ECH – 18.10-19.00: Chamber Music groups
  • ECH – 19.30-21.30: Samba Band (Conductor: Stephen Plummer)

Wednesday

  • Dome – 13.10-20.00: Chamber Music groups

Friday

  • Dome – 17.10-19.00: Symphonic Brass (post November auditions)
  • Dome – 20.00-22.00: Jazz Collective bands

Spring Weekly Schedule using Dome and Elgar Concert Hall (tbc):

Monday

  • ECH – 18.00-20.00: University Camerata (Conductor: MA’s)
  • ECH – 20.30-22.30: Jazz Orchestra (Conductor: Jonathan Silk)
  • Dome or Aston Webb LT – 19.00-21.00: Birmingham University Singers 

Tuesday

  • ECH – 19.10-22.00: Sinfonietta
  • Dome – 19.30-22.00: Flute Choir / Clarinet Choir (alternate weeks) 

Wednesday

  • Dome – 14.10-17.00: New Music Ensemble (Conductor: Daniele Rosina)
  • Dome – 18.00-22.00: Chamber Music ensembles

Thursday

  • Dome or Aston Webb LT – 19.30-21.30 – UG Vocal Consort (Conductor: UG’s)

Friday

  • Dome – 17.10-19.00: Symphonic Brass (Conductor: Stephen Roberts)
  • Dome – 20.00-22.00: Jazz Collective (Conductor: Jonathan Silk / coaching team)

N.B. If you have any queries please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.

Resident ensembles, workshops and masterclasses

Our resident ensemble and workshop programme combines longstanding partnerships with annual appointments to support the diversity across the University Music offering. Professional ensembles and musicians work with student musicians and composers across the year to encourage their development and to provide students with a broad range of experiences.

Recent and upcoming activity

Resident ensembles and professional staff:

  • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG)
  • Birmingham Symphonic Winds
  • Professor Simon Halsey (Director of Choral Activities)
  • Professor Andrew Kirkman (Director of Collective for Early Music Research and Performance)
  • Daniele Rosina (Director of Orchestral Studies)
  • Jonathan Silk (Director of Jazz Performance)

Workshops and masterclasses and guest talks:

  • Chamber – Onyx Brass
  • Chamber – Sandy Hay (Birmingham Flute Choir)
  • Conducting – Simon Carrington (Professor Emeritus, Yale University and The King’s Singers)
  • Conducting – Neil Ferris (Chorus Director, BBC Symphony Chorus)
  • Conducting – Paul McCreesh (Artistic Director, Gabrieli Consort and Players)
  • Conducting – Sakari Oramo (Chief Conductor, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • Conducting – Patrick Russill (Royal Academy of Music)
  • Conducting – Michael Seal (Associate Conductor, CBSO)
  • Composition – Bozzini Quartet
  • Composition – Callino Quartet
  • Composition – Ligeti Quartet
  • Composition – The Fidelio Trio
  • Composition – The Hermes Experiment
  • Composition – Eric Whitacre
  • Health & Wellbeing – Rowena Knight (Alexander Technique)
  • Health & Wellbeing – Eliza McCarthy (Mindfulness)
  • Health & Wellbeing – Dr Jane Oakland (Performance Coaching)
  • Health & Wellbeing – Dr Jonathan White
  • Jazz – Sara Colman (Voice)
  • Jazz – Percy Pursglove (Trumpet and Double Bass)
  • Jazz – Stan Sulzmann
  • Vocal – Binchois Consort
  • Vocal – Juice Vocal Ensemble
  • Vocal – Joseph Middleton (Song Accompaniment)
  • Vocal – Carolyn Sampson
  • Vocal – Tenebrae and Nigel Short
  • Vocal – The Sixteen and Harry Christophers
  • Vocal – Voces8

Orchestral, chamber music, and voice coaching:

  • Strings – Jane Wright (CBSO)
  • Strings – CJ Hughes
  • Strings – Colette Overdijk (CBSO)
  • Strings – Mike Jenkinson (CBSO)
  • Strings – Richard Jenkinson (Dante Quartet)
  • Strings – Kate Setterfield (CBSO)
  • Strings – Elaine Heinen
  • Strings – Sebastiano Dessanay
  • Woodwind – Margaret Cookhorn (CBSO)
  • Woodwind – Jack McNeill
  • Woodwind – Diane Clark
  • Brass – Stephen Roberts
  • Brass – Alwyn Green (previously CBSO)
  • Brass – Anneke Scott
  • Percussion – Andrew Herbert (CBSO)
  • Voice – Alison Chamberlain
  • Voice – Mark Chambers
  • Voice – Elizabeth Cragg
  • Piano Accompaniment – Julian Wilkins

Auditioned and hand-picked ensembles

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

Birmingham University Singers in performance on tour at St. Matthäus-Kirche, BerlinBirmingham University Singers in performance on tour at St. Matthäus-Kirche, Berlin

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 the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Jazz Orchestra

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 revue of the music of Chaka Khan, 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, and Mark Lockheart

New Music Ensemble

New Music Ensemble in performance at the University of Birmingham

New Music Ensemble in performance with Daniele Rosina in the Elgar Concert Hall

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, Boulez, Berio, and Dallapiccola, and recently contributed to the University commemoration of the Armistice with a presentation of Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum.

New Music Ensemble are a regular feature at the Department of Music’s CrossCurrents music festival.

Philharmonic Orchestra & 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 Town Hall, Birmingham, with the University Chorus, and at venues across the city. 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, 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 - 19:00 & Wednesday 15:00 - 18:00
  • Symphony Orchestra rehearsals: Thursday 18:00 - 21:00

University Camerata

Director: MA Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Monday 17:00 - 19:00

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

University of Birmingham Voices at the BBC Proms with BBC Proms Youth ChoirUniversity of Birmingham Voices at BBC Proms 2018 with BBC Proms Youth Choir

Director: Professor Simon Halsey & Julian Wilkins
Rehearsals: Bespoke Project Schedules

University of Birmingham Voices rehearse in the spring term 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 Women’s Choir, and University Camerata. Performances to date have included a Gilbert & Sullivan Gala (2014) and 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 in recent years have collaborated with the choir in massed performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with John Wilson (2019), and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (2020). 

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

University Women’s Choir in rehearsal with Patrick BarrettUniversity Upper Voices in rehearsal with Patrick Barrett in the Elgar Concert Hall

Director: Jack Apperley
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 Jack Apperley, 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 UoB Composition Fellow Dr Daria Kwiatowksa. In recent years they have focussed on celebrating historic and contemporary women composers, including Elizabeth Poston, Cecilia McDowall, Janet Wheeler, and Eva Ugalde.

UUV has appeared under the baton of many distinguished conductors, including Patrick Barrett, Simon Carrington, and Simon Halsey. Recent projects have included commissioning new music by Paul Mealor, 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.

Un-auditioned ensembles and groups

Birmingham University Liturgical Choir

Birmingham University Liturgical Choir at Lichfield CathedralBirmingham University Liturgical Choir at Lichfield Cathedral

Director: Dr Paul Rodmell
Rehearsals: Bespoke Project Schedules

The University Liturgical Choir is a mixed choir of around 26 singers that offers students the opportunity to experience performing sacred music in a liturgical setting. Originally formed in 1983 to sing regular services at St Alban the Martyr, Birmingham, the choir now come together, usually once per term, to sing Evensong at local cathedrals across the West Midlands area. Recent projects have included repeat visits to Lichfield Cathedral, as well as St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham.

The choir is an un-auditioned ensemble and is open to anyone who is interested in exploring the Anglican church music tradition. A sign-up sheet is posted in the Music Office in the University Music Hub each term, as places are first-come-first served.

Brass Band

brass band in rehearsal at the University of Birmingham

Brass Band in rehearsal with Stuart Birnie

Director: Stuart Birnie
Rehearsals: Wednesday 19:30 - 21:30

Brass Band is a Music Society ensemble which gives two concerts per year, often jointly with the University Wind Band or Chamber Choirs. The band plays a wide variety of music, from traditional brass standards to film music and arrangements of pop classics. They are directed by leading tuba player and educator, Stuart Birnie.

The ensemble is an un-auditioned group with no cap on membership - so expect between 40-55 players rather than a standard band format. Seating auditions are held at the start of each term, in some sections, to ensure that players are in the most suitable positions. The annual band visit to the ‘Uni Brass’ competition is a highlight of the academic year.

Cello Choir

Director: Elaine Ackers
Rehearsals: Wednesday 13:30 - 14:30

Cello Choir is one of University Music’s newest ensembles, and is open to all cellists at the University. The ensemble meets weekly to rehearse with professional cellist, Elaine Ackers, and performs regularly in concerts throughout the academic year. Recent repertoire has included Gordon Jacobs’ Cello Octet.

Chamber Choirs (SATB & SSA)

Director: Student Conducted
Rehearsals: Thursday 19:00 - 20:15 (SSA) & 20:15 - 21:30 (SATB)

The Music Society run two choirs as part of University Music – a mixed choir and an upper voices choir. Both choirs are student led, with conductors chosen through annual auditions by the membership the choir. They perform a varied programme, from small sacred and secular works to popular world music.  

Chamber Choirs are un-auditioned ensembles, open to anyone interested in smaller choral works.

Chamber Music Network

The Chamber Music Network at the University offers students the opportunity to be part of a variety of chamber ensembles, as well as perform in two annual concerts. Students can set up their own small ensemble, or join a pre-existing group, and informal platform sessions are held on a regular basis throughout the year where groups can receive constructive feedback from their peers and guest tutors.

To book a Chamber Music group for performances or external events, please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.

Clarinet Choir 

Director: Student Conducted
Rehearsals: Sunday 19:30 - 20:30

Clarinet Choir is a new ensemble and welcomes players of all abilities. Rehearsing once a week, the ensemble is conducted by students and perform two concerts a year. Recent repertoire includes The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Albeniz's Cadiz and Danse Macabre.

Collective of Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR)

Director: Professor Andrew Kirkman 

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 Collective 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 and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. 

CEMPR Ensembles include: 

  • Baroque and Classical Orchestra, Early Modern Vocal Ensemble (EMVE), Baroque Flute Ensemble, Early Strings, Harmonie Band, Sackbutts and Cornetts, Continuo Club
  • Professional CEMPR coaches include: Anneke Scott (Horns), Andrew King (Voice), Mark Chambers (Voice) 

Creative Exchange

Rehearsals: Workshops, plus small group rehearsals 

Creative Exchange is a collective ensemble for students interested in exploring contemporary repertoire, workshopping student compositions, and playing improvised or open score pieces. Featuring workshops led by professional musician and performer, Jack McNeill, as well as guest performers alongside student led rehearsals, Creative Exchange is an opportunity for students to try new ideas and broaden their musical horizons.

Recent projects have included collaborating with BEAST on the UK premiere of A New Ocean by Christopher Fox, and student compositions for open instrumentation, loop pedal, and single-use plastic.

Flute Choir

Director: Student Conducted
Rehearsals: Wednesday 13:00 - 14:00

Flute Choir is a new ensemble, formed to accommodate the wealth of woodwind players at the University and offer opportunities for Flute players of all abilities. The ensemble is conducted by student conductors, and takes part in two concerts per year.

Jazz Collective

Jazz collective bands in performance

Jazz Collective bands in performance in the foyer of the Bramall Music Building

Director: Jonathan Silk
Rehearsals: Private band rehearsals, plus Friday evening workshops

Jazz Collective gives talented jazz musicians at the University a chance to form small ensembles, performing a range of repertoire from well-known standards to arrangements and compositions by students. Students can take advantage of the many coaching opportunities offered through Jazz Collective, as well as sign-up for performance opportunities at the University and in venues across Birmingham.

To book a Jazz Collective group for performances or external events, please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.

Samba Band

The Samba Band is a new ensemble and gave its first performance at the University of Birmingham Proms in 2018. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to get involved, and no previous experience, or specific musical ability, is required to become a member of the ensemble.

Saxophone Choir

Director: Student Conducted
Rehearsals: Friday 17:00 - 19:00

The Saxophone Choir is an ensemble open to alto, tenor, baritone and soprano saxophone players at the University. Conducted by student musicians, the ensemble welcomes saxophone players of all abilities and performs a variety of works from popular hits to well-known classical compositions. Recent repertoire has included Holst’s Fantasia on the Dargason and Karen Street’s Tango.

String Orchestra

Director: Student Conducted
Rehearsals: Sunday 17:00 - 19:00

String Orchestra is a new ensemble formed to play a variety of classic and contemporary repertoire for strings. Offering opportunities to student conductors and string players, recent repertoire has included Grieg's Holberg Suite and Elgar's Serenade for Strings. The ensemble welcomes players of all abilities.

University Chorus

University choirUniversity Chorus in rehearsal with University Symphony Orchestra and Julian Wilkins at Birmingham Town Hall

Director: Julian Wilkins
Rehearsals: Tuesday 19:00 - 21:30

University Chorus is a large choir of between 150–200 singers and is one of the longest-standing ensembles at the University. They perform large works for chorus, and regularly collaborate with University orchestras, as well as organists and small ensembles from across the city. Recent highlights include Haydn’s The Creation alongside the University Philharmonic Orchestra in Town Hall, Birmingham, as well as performances of music written for choir and organ by composers including Kodály, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and John Rutter. The University Chorus is directed by Julian Wilkins, and has Professor Simon Halsey, Director of Choral Activities, as its Artistic Director. Rehearsals for University Chorus also act as a platform for the MA Choral Conducting students, who occasionally lead warm-ups or take sectional rehearsals. 

University Chorus is an un-auditioned community choir, open to singers of all experience levels. At present, the majority of the choir is made up of members of the local community, students, and staff from campus.

University Staff Singers

Director: MA Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Thursday 12:30 - 13:30 

University Staff Singers offers members of staff at the University the opportunity to get involved in music-making in their lunch break. With no requirement for prior experience, or the ability to read music, the choir is a fun opportunity for all staff to give singing a try under the training of the MA Choral Conducting students from the Music Department. The choir rehearses on Thursday afternoons in term time in the University Music Hub.

If you are interested and want to find out more, please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.

Wind Band

Director: Student Conducted (with coaching from Keith Allen and Birmingham Symphonic Winds)
Rehearsals: Monday 20:00 - 22:00

Wind Band is a large ensemble of brass, woodwind, and percussion players, who perform original works for wind band and wind orchestra alongside popular arrangements. Conducted by students, and with over 100 players, Wind Band is one the largest un-auditioned instrumental ensembles at the University.

Visiting tutors

Music students at the University of Birmingham are entitled to instrumental/vocal lessons. For BMus students this is a compulsory part of the course, while for Joint Honours students it is optional. Tuition is delivered by a variety of tutors from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and also by specialists from across the UK employed directly by the Department of Music (as listed below).

Baroque Flute

  • Katy Bircher 

Baroque Violin

  • Miki Takahashi 

Clarinet

  • Jack McNeill 

Drum Kit

  • Jonathan Silk 

Harpsichord

  • Yeo Yat-Soon

Jazz Trombone

  • Richard Foote

Natural Horn

  • Anneke Scott

Natural Trumpet (& Cornett)

  • Richard Thomas

Piano

  • Alexander Boyd
  • David Quigley
  • Cinzia Scafetta

Theorbo & Lute

  • Lynda Sayce

Trombone (& Sackbut)

  • Martyn Sanderson 

Trumpet

  • Steve Lee

Violin

  • CJ Hughes
  • Colette Overdijk

Viols

  • Alison Crum 

Voice

  • Alison Chamberlain
  • Mark Chambers
  • Elizabeth Cragg

Electroacoustic groups

BEAST

Director: Dr Scott Wilson

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 Dr Scott Wilson.

Birmingham Ensemble for Electroacoustic Research

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. For information please contact Dr Scott Wilson.

Membership information

University Music is the extra-curricular music programme at the University of Birmingham, and incorporates ensembles, mentoring, and coaching from the Music Society and Department of Music. University Music is open to students, staff, and the local community, and information on how to get involved in the different types of music-making opportunities we offer can be found below.

Auditioned ensembles – auditions take place in the first week of the Autumn term each year. More information, and sign-up sheets, is available from the Bramall Music Building during Welcome Week or on the Music Society notice board.

Un-auditioned ensembles – if an ensemble is listed as un-auditioned, please sign-up during Welcome Week at the Music Society stall in the Bramall Music Building, or get in touch with the team. 

N.B. University Music strives to achieve the highest possible performance standards. In order to achieve this, it is necessary that each ensemble member maintains a high level of commitment and meets the requirements of the performing group. Thus, each participating student is required to sign a ‘Member Agreement’ at the start of each academic year. 

If you have any queries about the aforementioned information, or have any further queries about our performing ensembles, please contact the following:  

University Music and Concerts Team

or
Gavin Allsop (Choral Music Coordinator)
G.M.Allsop@bham.ac.uk / +44 (0) 121 414 8226

Other University music-making organisations

There are lots of music and music-making societies in our student union, the Guild of Students, covering a wide variety of genres and skills. 

Whether you are interested in;

  • Being part of a popular musical or opera
  • Developing your talents as a songwriter
  • Hosting your own radio show
  • Joining a band/ choir/ A cappella group
  • Helping to organise the largest student-run music festival in the UK
  • Trying something new
  • Meeting like-minded people
  • Exploring what the Birmingham music scene has to offer

You are welcome to join as many societies as you like here at Birmingham. We now have over 250 active student groups, but if you cannot find the one you want, why not look into setting up one of your own?

Musicians health and wellbeing

As the only University in the UK Healthy Conservatoires Network we work with colleagues from higher education and professional arts organisations to share best practice and continually develop our Health and Wellbeing provision.

Being part of University Music is the first step in improving your health and wellbeing - the benefits of making music for pleasure are well known - but by signing up you are not only given access to numerous workshops, masterclasses and resources listed below, it connects you to a network of like-minded musicians who are likely to become your biggest support network during your time at University. You can also be part of our Health and Wellbeing committee, helping us shape our programme and identify areas where support can be offered. There is also the position of Health and Wellbeing Officer on the Music Society committee. In addition, the Music Society committee includes a Diversity and Equality Officer - providing an opportunity for students who are seeking support, wish to raise issues, concerns, or support the society’s desire to be as assessable and diverse as possible.

What we offer

All of our health and wellbeing events are open to all our performers – both departmental and Music Society. Whether you are a singer, composer or instrumentalist; a music student, non-music student, or member of the local community; as long as you are in a University Music ensemble you are welcome at all of our wellbeing events. 

  • Performance workshops
    We run the following FREE sessions throughout the year aimed at improving your Health and Wellbeing. Details on when sessions are happening, and how to sign up will be circulated through the University Music mailing list.
  • Performance coaching
    If you are a recitalist, choir member, orchestral musician, or any kind of performer who gets anxious about public performance, these sessions are for you. Dr Jane Oakland will be offering weekly 1-1 sessions online, and give a talk as part of our lecture series.
  • Alexander technique
    Specialist Rowena Knight comes in regularly throughout the year for individual sign up sessions. If you’ve never experienced it before – we can’t recommend Alexander Technique enough for your general wellbeing and the huge effect it can have on your overall performance. Chamber Ensembles musicians, and orchestra members might even find Rowena in one of your rehearsals. 
  • Mindfulness in music
    Eliza McCarthy, mindfulness expert and professional pianist will be running sessions on mindfulness in music – if this is something you’ve wanted to find out more about then look out for emails detailing how to sign up. Eliza will give talk as part of our lecture series and then run online group workshops in Semester 1 and Semester 2.
  • Lecture series
    Each academic year we run a Health and Wellbeing lecture series with talks from a variety of industry professionals including medical practitioners from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), Performance coaches and Alexander Technique specialists. Online videos for Autumn 2020 plus follow up Q & A session on Zoom. This series is integrated to the Music degree programme for performance students.
  • Student support 
    If you have a Reasonable Adjustments Plan (RAP)in place with your department that you think could impact your involvement in an ensemble you can talk to Gavin Allsop (choral or instrumental ensembles) about this in confidence. This might include getting music in larger print, on different coloured paper, or having an agreement in place about absences from rehearsals.

Healthy Conservatoires Network

For further information please contact the University Music and Concerts Team.

Professional support for our musicians

University Music is managed by a dedicated team of full-time professional staff – ensuring that our activities are unrivalled in any other UK university. With a wealth of experience, the team have come to the University from organisations including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, English Touring Opera, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Warwick Arts Centre, and other educational institutions, including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Delivering over 130 concerts and events each year (including the concert series in The Barber Institute of Fine Arts), the team work with a dedicated team of professional conductors, coaches, and the University Music Society. The team also lead on strategic partnerships with music organisations across the country and run an internship scheme from September – March each academic year.

For more information, or to discuss future collaborations with the team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

University Music and Concerts Team