Instrumental groups

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University Symphony Orchestra

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: Neal Farwell and John Pickard
  • Rehearsals: Tuesdays 7.00 - 9.15pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 2 October (first rehearsal is on a Saturday 11.00am-5.00pm)

This full symphonic strength 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. Highlights in the autumn term will include Vaughan Williams's 5th Symphony and Mozart's 'Jupiter' Symphony. 

University New Music Ensemble

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: Michael Ellison
  • Rehearsals: Teaching Block 2 only, 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 a lunchtime concert during the year, along with contributions to events such as Bristol New Music.  

University Chamber Orchestra

  • Auditioned: Audition required
  • Conductor: David Simkins
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 7.00 - 9.00pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 3 October (first rehearsal is on a Sunday)

Chamber Orchestra is a high-standard, auditioned ensemble that welcomes 40 musicians from across the University to perform a variety of thrilling professional repertoire, from classical symphonies to 20th century music, such as Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin in our first upcoming concert. Together, we will create a familial atmosphere that strikes the right balance between rigorous rehearsal and recreation. This year, we have planned a programme of four concerts, including joint events with the Chamber Choir and Symphonia orchestras. Individual students have the chance to be featured through the esteemed annual concerto and composition competitions. A special highlight will be our annual tour to a European city this Easter! Please email our manager Sophie for more information: We look forward to meeting you soon.

University Wind Orchestra

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductor: Felicity Lewis
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 5.00 - 6.30pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 27 September

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! For further information please email

University String Orchestra

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductor: Brandon Ho
  • Rehearsals: Mondays 5.15 - 6.45pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 27 September

String orchestra is a fun and exciting ensemble open to all string players without the pressures of auditions or intensive practice regimes. Violin, viola, cello, and double bass players are welcome to join as we strive to play challenging and engaging music to a high standard. Our repertoire is always varied, drawing on music of all genres: this year, from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, to the music of the Studio Ghibli films, to the pop classics of ABBA, and even student-composed works. Players have the opportunity to showcase their work in 3 concerts over the year. If you want to play in a sociable and quality ensemble, join us on Monday evenings in the Recital Room in the Victoria Rooms! For further information please email

University Big Band Society


  • Auditioned: Audition required (contact society for details)
  • 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
  • Rehearsals: Friday 5.15 - 7.30pm, Victoria Rooms

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 AND 2019. 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.

Membership is free - register online at the SU website.

Find us at Freshers' Fair and on Facebook.

BUMS Chamber Music

  • Auditioned: No
  • Co-ordinator: Harrison Robb

BUMS Chamber Music is the perfect opportunity for all instrumentalists to get involved with music at Bristol. There are opportunities for everyone, no matter what your instrument or standard, as we pair the correct people together to ensure you get the most out of your music-making! Recent groups have included string quartets, brass ensembles, and piano trios. And after a recent pairing with the Composition Society, you could be performing a premiere this year! There are many opportunities to perform, but groups can also be created on a casual basis - YOU are in control! 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 like-minded people to form an ensemble with, please contact Harrison at


  • President: David Simkins
  • Vice-President: Tim Rafferty

Bristol University Symphonia is an orchestral society dedicated to fun-loving music making. We are a Gold Balloon accredited society who won Performing Arts Society of the Year in 2020. We have two student-run orchestras: Symphony Orchestra, which is part-auditioned, and Philharmonic, which is the only un-auditioned full orchestra at the University. We have vibrant and social orchestral family, and we enjoy engaging with our local community, including through outreach events and sponsorship, such as with the lovely Mrs Potts Chocolate House. You can apply to join both orchestras at  

Symphonia Symphony Orchestra

  • Auditioned: part-auditioned
  • Manager: Maya Stimson

Symphonia Symphony Orchestra is a part-auditioned group that plays a wide variety of advanced orchestral repertoire. In 2019, this included Mussorgsky's Pictures of an Exhibition and Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade. The orchestra is a tight-knit family of musicians and we encourage everyone to attend our regular fun socials, including post-rehearsal wind downs. We rehearse on Wednesday evenings and perform at least three concerts per year; we are excited that our first concert this Christmas will be a collaboration with Bristol University Jazz Orchestra. Also, our esteemed annual concerto and composition competitions offer special opportunities for individual musicians to showcase their talent.  If you would like to be a part of a student-led orchestra, make new friends, and play exciting music, this orchestra is for you.

Symphonia Philharmonic Orchestra

  • Auditioned: No
  • Manager: Brandon Ho

Symphonia Philharmonic Orchestra is the University’s only completely un-auditioned full orchestra. We welcome everyone, no matter what their instrumental proficiency, to perform orchestral favourites from across the musical repertoire as part of a quality orchestra without the pressure of auditions and intensive practise schedules. Our programme in 2019 included Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite and Hans Zimmer’s music from the Gladiator soundtrack. We rehearse on Tuesday evenings and perform at least three concerts a year. Our first concert promises to be a very exciting collaboration with Bristol University Operatic society, offering our players the chance to try out some new, interesting repertoire and perform alongside a chorus. For a relaxed opportunity to play music and make friends, we'd love to see you at Symphonia's Philharmonic Orchestra!

University Brass Band

  • Auditioned: No
  • Conductors: Sam Kali-Dyke
  • Rehearsals: Thursdays 7.00 - 9.00pm, Victoria Rooms
  • Beginning: 30 September

The University of Bristol Brass Band is a friendly, social and hardworking non- auditioned ensemble, welcoming brass (standard brass band instruments + trumpets) and percussion players of all standards. We aim to perform at a high level, working on some challenging, yet exciting, repertoire in a relaxed and low- pressure environment. The band holds a number of concerts throughout the academic year, the highlight of which being competing at UniBrass, the annual inter-university brass band contest, in which the last 4 years have yielded a second place and a win in Shield Section, as well as the band being crowned champions of the 2021 virtual section. We work on a wide variety of repertoire throughout the year, with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Fire in the Blood’ and Philip Harper’s arrangement of ‘Nordic Polska’ among recent favourites, along with more traditional brass band items such as ‘Men of Harlech’, ‘Knight Templar’ and ‘Floral Dance’. In previous years, the band has been lucky enough to have workshops led by Philip Harper, conductor of the world number one brass band, the Cory Band, and sectionals led by section principals of the band. If you would like to improve your playing and musicianship in a fun, social and low-pressure ensemble, join Brass Band on Thursday evenings in the Victoria Rooms. Any questions? Contact:


Bristol University Symphonic Winds

  • Auditioned: Yes (contact society for details)
  • Conductor: Harrison Robb
  • Rehearsals: Wednesdays 5.00 - 7.00pm
  • Beginning: 29 September

Symphonic Winds is the University’s auditioned wind band, welcoming both music and non-music students alike. We showcase a varied programme, performing standard wind band repertoire, with music by new composers, alongside fun medleys from films and musicals. We are a very sociable and close-knit band, who put on regular socials throughout the year; these include pub trips, nights out, quizzes and coffee mornings. Symphonic Winds has approximately 40 members and rehearses once a week from 5-7 on Wednesday evenings. Auditions will take place the week after Freshers Week – sign up forms will be up on the noticeboard from the beginning of Freshers Week. Please see the Victoria Rooms noticeboard for more information or email the manager Ciara at

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