Instrumental groups

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University Symphony Orchestra

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: John Pickard and Neal Farwell
  • Rehearsals: Tuesday 7.00pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 6 October (first rehearsal is on a Saturday 11.00am-5.00pm)

This 90-strong orchestra is conducted by members of Music staff. We perform repertoire from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries to a near-professional standard. We aim to balance established masterworks, some less well-known pieces and contemporary music (including music by student composers). Highlights this year will include Sibelius's 7th Symphony, music from Wagner’s Parsifal and, with the University Choral Society, Brahms's A German Requiem

University New Music Ensemble

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: Michael Ellison
  • Rehearsals: Wednesdays 5.00 – 7.00pm, Victoria Rooms

NME performs new works and modern classics to the highest standard, bringing together leading performers from across the University to give two lunchtime concerts during the year, along with contributions to events such as Bristol New Music. This year NME will be performing key works of Fausto Romitelli and UoB composers. 

University Chamber Orchestra

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: Vincent Horsten
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 7.00 - 9.15pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 7 October (first rehearsal is on a Sunday)

The Chamber Orchestra performs at a high standard, with a varied repertoire covering classical symphonies through to 20th century music. Individual students have the chance to be featured through the esteemed annual concerto and composition competitions. Highlights of the coming year will include a collaborative concert with the Chamber Choir in St. George’s Music Hall, and our joint tour to Prague in the Easter break! Repertoire will include Beethoven’s Symphony no. 4 and Schumann’s Second Symphony. 

University Wind Orchestra

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductor: Will Kieser
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 5.00 - 6.30pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 1 October

The Wind Orchestra is the largest of the non-auditioned ensembles and performs pieces in a wide range of musical styles. We welcome all abilities of wind, brass, and percussion players, so come along, meet new people, explore new music and enjoy being in a friendly and social ensemble! Highlights this year will include Anton Reicha’s explosive Commemoration Symphony, Lord of the Rings and Harold Walters’ fun classical music medley Instant Concert.

University String Orchestra

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductor: Praveenaa Kathirvasan
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 5.15 - 6.45pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 1 October

String Orchestra offers the chance for players to be part of a quality ensemble, without the pressures of auditions or intense practicing. We strive to play challenging music to a high standard, regardless of members’ skill. The ensemble usually puts on three concerts of engaging and varied repertoire each year, drawing on music from all periods; even student composed works. If you want to improve your playing in a fun, sociable ensemble, then join us on a Monday evening in the Recital Room in the Victoria Rooms.

University Big Band Society


  • Auditioned: Audition required (contact society for details)
  • Conductor: Ruaridh Wilkinson
  • Rehearsals: Friday 5.15 - 7.30pm, Students' Union

Bristol University Jazz Orchestra (BUJO)

  • Auditioned: No audition for saxes, trumpets and trombones - but rhythm section and vocalists auditioned
  • Conductor: Sam Sheridan
  • Rehearsals: Friday 5.15 - 7.30pm, Students' Union

BUJO and Hornstars are both free, fun and exciting Jazz Bands, both in regular demand for university and external events. Hornstars are our auditioned big band playing some of the biggest venues across Bristol and the South West, with auditions held at the start of term 1 (visit our fresher’s fair stand to sign up). BUJO are our un-auditioned band (except for vocals and rhythm), yet are still a high quality outfit having won the South West Universities ‘Battle of the Big Bands’ Competition in 2018. The bands cover a full range of jazz music, from classic swing to contemporary fusion, with additional funk and pop. Often the society collaborates with big bands from other universities, as well as hosting our own events such as the ‘Anson Rooms Takeover’ and the annual Vic Rooms concerts. As well as regular gigs, the society also holds an annual summer tour which is always well received – with both bands performing to large crowds in beautiful locations across Europe.

To find out more about any of the bands, find us at Freshers’ Fair or visit Membership is free.

BUMS Chamber Music

  • Auditioned: No
  • Co-ordinator: Eleanor Little
  • Rehearsals: Various, Victoria Rooms

BUMS Chamber Music is a great opportunity for soloists, pianists and chamber ensembles as well as a fantastic chance for composers to have their works performed and recorded. Recent ensembles have included saxophone quintets, brass ensembles and string quartets, and all BUMS members are welcome to join! Recently we have combined with the Composition Society so will be performing several premieres this year! We are always looking for new groups and ideas to expand the chamber music scene so if you have formed a group already or are an individual looking for likeminded people to form an ensemble with, please get in touch, or register your interest at auditions. To register your interest, please email Eleanor at


  • Auditioned: No audition for strings. Brass and woodwind may need to audition
  • President: Anna Shaw

Symphonia is a friendly orchestra for those who enjoy playing ambitious and exciting orchestral music to a high standard in a fun and relaxed environment. Our diverse repertoire ranges from big, romantic symphonies to exciting film scores. Our previous repertoire includes Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies 5 and 6, The Gladiator Suite and Superman March. In the first term our sights are set on Saint- Saëns Symphony No.3 “Organ” and John Williams’ Hymn to The Fallen as well a few jazz orchestra pieces in conjunction with BUJO. The remainder of the year will see us hold a concerto competition to give our members the opportunity to play a concerto with the orchestra and we will be having a 20th anniversary Gala Concert in June. We offer antidote to our rehearsals with regular socials. Places are selected on best merit via application form, although we reserve the right to audition in the event of high competition for places.  Find us at Fresher's Fair or email

University Brass Band

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductors: Dominic Gardner
  • Rehearsals: Wednesdays 5.15 - 6.45pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 3 October

The Brass Band is a friendly non-auditioned ensemble which welcomes brass players of all standards. We perform at a high level with various concerts throughout the year, including competing at the annual UniBrass competition which we won last year! We play a wide range of music including orchestral arrangements such as the William Tell Overture (Rossini), Modern music such as MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb), and various brass band classics including Death or Glory and Prismatic Light. There are also solo opportunities and a chance for smaller ensemble playing such as carolling at Christmas.

Bristol University Symphonic Winds

  • Auditioned: Yes (contact society for details)
  • Conductor: Lily Holland
  • Rehearsals: Thursdays 7.00 - 9.00pm
  • Beginning: 4 October

Symphonic Winds is the University’s auditioned wind band, welcoming both music and non-music students alike. The ensemble was formed to perform a varied programme of a high quality, and pride themselves on their high standards. Symphonic Winds has approximately 30 members and its highlights include an annual joint concert with the University of Cambridge Wind Orchestra, this year taking place in Cambridge. The auditions for this ensemble take place the week after Welcome Week, in the Victoria Rooms – sign up forms will be up on the noticeboard from the beginning of Welcome Week. We are a very sociable and close-knit band, who put on regular socials throughout the year. See Victoria Rooms noticeboard for information or email

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