Birmingham Symphonic Brass
Director: Dr Stephen Roberts
Rehearsals: Alternate Friday evenings
This brass dectet offers symphonic brass players the opportunity to perform core repertoire with organ as part of the University Degree Ceremonies and other high profile events. They recently played for the installation ceremony to formally welcome the University’s new Chancellor. The ensemble also perform regular concerts.
For audition information, or to book the group, please contact Christina Hancock.
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 will return to Europe in the summer of 2020 for their biennial tour.
BUS has appeared under the baton of many distinguished guest conductors including Simon Carrington, Simon Halsey, and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Recent collaborations have included performances with Jeffrey Douma and Yale Glee Club, Nigel Short and Tenebrae, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Director: Jonathan Silk
Rehearsals: Tuesday 19.30 – 21.30
Jazz Orchestra is the University’s premier auditioned jazz ensemble, creatively directed by Jonathan Silk. It explores contemporary music written for large jazz ensemble, working on theme based projects over the course of the academic year. In the 2018/19 season the ensemble took on the challenge of interpreting Kenny Wheeler’s Sweet Time Suite and Jim McNeely’s East Coast Blowout albums in the Autumn term – performing these in at concert at the CBSO Centre – and then worked alongside guest artist Iain Ballamy in the Spring term to present a concert of his own tunes arranged by Malcolm Edmonstone in the Bramall Concert Hall. Previous guest artists have included world renowned musicians such as Bobby Shrew, Stan Sulzmann and Mark Lockheart.
New Music Ensemble
Director: Daniele Rosina
Rehearsals: Tuesday 17.00 – 19.00
The hand-picked New Music Ensemble is the University Music's contemporary music group. Directed by Daniele Rosina, Director of Orchestral Studies, this ensemble presents new works by student and staff composers, as well as commissioning UK-wide composers. Recently performed composers include Reich, Boulez and Dallapiccola. New Music Ensemble regularly feature in the Music Department's CrossCurrents music festival.
Philharmonic Orchestra & Symphony Orchestra
Director: Daniele Rosina
The Music Society has two full-sized, auditioned orchestras of equal standing. They each give a termly concert in The Bramall, and occasional concerts at Town Hall (Birmingham) with the University Chorus. 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. Auditions take place in Week one of the Autumn term.
- Philharmonic Rehearsals: Monday 17.00 – 19.00 & Wednesday 15.00 – 18.00
- Symphony Rehearsals: Thursday 18.00 – 21.00
Director: MA Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Monday 17.00 – 19.00
University Camerata is specially selected choir of up to 40 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 MA conductors, Camerata is a great platform for exploring 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 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). In 2019 they collaborated with CBSO Chorus in a massed performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the orchestra and John Wilson.
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 in recent years. 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.
In 2019/20 the choir will sing alongside the CBSO and CBSO Chorus at Symphony Hall in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”).
University Vocal Consort
Director: UG Conducting Students
Rehearsals: Thursday 17.00 – 18.00
University Vocal Consort is hand-picked choir of 16 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.
University Women’s Choir
Director: Jack Apperley
Rehearsals: Monday 19.45 – 22.00
The University Women’s Choir was founded by Professor Simon Halsey CBE in 2013 to accommodate and nurture the wealth of strong women’s voices at the University. Through 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, the University Women’s Choir 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, and Janet Wheeler.
UWC has appeared under the baton of many distinguished conductors, including Patrick Barrett, Simon Carrington, and Simon Halsey. Recent projects have included commissioning of 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.