We are home to a wide range of ensembles of all shapes and sizes, styles and traditions. Any member of the University is welcome to get involved.

Want to audition? Information about our auditions for the 2023/24 academic year is now available below for many of our ensembles. Auditions start from 20 September.

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Choral ensembles

The University Choir welcomes members from both inside and outside the University and was formed over 50 years ago. The choir aims to provide a cultural hub within York and to collaborate with groups such as the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. The choir performs repertoire from the late Baroque period through to the 20th century.

Book tickets

  • Annual membership cost:
    • £100 for staff and external members
    • £40 for students
    • free for music students (if you're a music student, you will also need to order membership, but you will not be charged for this)

Purchase your membership

  • Scores: music for semester 1 costs £8.50. If you are a Music student, you will also need to buy music.

Purchase your scores

There will be two concerts this year, with the final event in York Minster.

Contact us

Contact our membership secretary, Catherine Duncan at university-choir@york.ac.uk or call 01904 322445

Registration evening and auditions 2023

Date: Monday 18 September 2023 from 6.30pm in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall Foyer.

The 24 is a small choir of around 24 singers chosen by audition. They perform repertoire from the 15th to the 21st century, including premieres of student works. Performances have been features on BBC Radio 3’s The Choir and In Tune.

  • Musical director: Sarah Latto
  • Rehearsal times: Mondays 3.45pm to 6pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm
  • Rehearsal locationSir Jack Lyons Concert Hall (usually, sometimes we're in other locations)

Auditions 2023

Dates: Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 September 2023

  • Singers normally have good choral experience
  • Please email Dawn Walters (dw1500@york.ac.uk) to be given a slot. Include your voice type, your course name (Music or other) and two lines about your choral experience.
  • Bring two pieces to let us hear your voice (with a simple piano accompaniment or be prepared to sing without one). You'll be given a sight-reading test.
  • You can be studying any subject, but check your timetable to verify that you are available for the rehearsal times before auditioning.

The Zamar Gospel Choir was established in 2003. It's a student-run ensemble and performs songs from musicals, worship music and of course traditional gospel music too. The name 'Zamar' translated means 'praise' in Hebrew. The choir welcomes all students and you do not need to study music to be able to join.

Vox is the department's acapella ensemble. They are a 15-person auditioned ensemble and they perform in the Music Society's Lunchtime Concert Series.

Animas is a student-run mixed choir who sing a diverse repertoire of music.

  • Student-led ensemble
  • Membership: Auditions take place on Friday 30 September 10am to 2pm
  • For further information contact animasyork@gmail.com 

Instrumental ensembles

The University of York Symphony Orchestra (UYSO) is the University's largest instrumental ensemble. The music performed includes established masterpieces of the classical and romantic orchestral repertoire, as well as lesser-known works and modern compositions; in recent years it has included works by Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Kaija Saariaho and Alma Mahler.

Each year students can audition for the opportunity to perform a concerto with the orchestra. The orchestra will be giving three concerts during the year with a wide repertoire including music by Elgar, Grainger, Gershwin and Boulanger.

The University Chamber Orchestra performs a variety of repertoire and regularly premieres student commissions.

The Chamber Orchestra has toured extensively, including trips to France, Vienna, Venice, Berlin and within the UK. The group often takes part in high-profile events. These include the first ever online orchestra coaching session with players from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and performances of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for wind, joined by players from the Scottish Chamber and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras.

The Chamber Orchestra will give one concert during the year including music by Haydn and Poulenc.

Auditions 2023

The auditions for the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras are held concurrently.

If you play an orchestral instrument but it is not your first study, please do audition. If you play viola and bassoon (for example), please apply for two auditions.

Dates, times and location

Please arrive no earlier than ten minutes before your audition.

  • Wednesday 20 September from 9.30am
  • Thursday 21 September from 2pm
  • Friday 22 September from 9.30am
  • Saturday 23 September from 9.30am
  • Sunday 24 September from 11am

Location: Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, room 106

Sign up

Email John Stringer at john.stringer@york.ac.uk or visit the Music reception (Sally Baldwin D block) to sign up in person. Let us know what you play as well as your York email address if possible.

How the auditions work

  • You'll be asked to play about five minutes of a prepared piece, which should be a work that you know well and that displays you to your best advantage.
  • There may be some sight-reading and if so it will be taken from a standard orchestral work.
  • Most auditions are not accompanied but at the start of the semester we may have a list of people interested in accompanying. You can always bring your own.
  • A room next to the audition room is reserved for warm up time and to meet the accompanist (if available).

The University Chamber Orchestra performs a variety of repertoire and regularly premieres student commissions.

The Chamber Orchestra has toured extensively, including trips to France, Vienna, Venice, Berlin and within the UK. The group often takes part in high-profile events. These include the first ever online orchestra coaching session with players from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and performances of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for wind, joined by players from the Scottish Chamber and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras.

The Chamber Orchestra will give one concert during the year including music by Haydn and Poulenc.

Auditions 2023

The auditions for the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras are held concurrently.

If you play an orchestral instrument but it is not your first study, please do audition. If you play viola and bassoon (for example), please apply for two auditions.

Dates, times and location

Please arrive no earlier than ten minutes before your audition.

  • Wednesday 20 September from 9.30am
  • Thursday 21 September from 2pm
  • Friday 22 September from 9.30am
  • Saturday 23 September from 9.30am
  • Sunday 24 September from 11am

Location: Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, room 106

Sign up

Email John Stringer at john.stringer@york.ac.uk or visit the Music reception (Sally Baldwin D block) to sign up in person. Let us know what you play as well as your York email address if possible.

How the auditions work

  • You'll be asked to play about five minutes of a prepared piece, which should be a work that you know well and that displays you to your best advantage.
  • There may be some sight-reading and if so it will be taken from a standard orchestral work.
  • Most auditions are not accompanied but at the start of the semester we may have a list of people interested in accompanying. You can always bring your own.
  • A room next to the audition room is reserved for warm up time and to meet the accompanist (if available).

The University Baroque Ensemble is a small orchestra that explores the historically-informed performance of music from the Baroque and Classical periods, using a combination of modern and historical instruments. Students receive coaching and play side-by-side with professional musicians specialising in HIP. Members don't need any special instruments or equipment, but string players have the opportunity to learn to use Baroque bows. 

The ensemble will give three concerts this year, including Bach's Magnificat in D with University Choir in December.

  • Directors: Asuka Sumi (Concertmaster, semester 1), Rachel Gray (continuo coach), Mary-Jannet Leith (wind coach)
  • Rehearsal times: Thursday lunchtimes from 1.30pm to 4pm

Auditions 2023

The ensemble is open to string players, flute, oboe, recorder, bassoon, harpsichord/organ of Grade 8 standard and above with good sight-reading ability. Other instruments may be included during the year depending on repertoire.

When auditioning for University Symphony and Chamber Orchestra please mention if you are interested in Baroque Ensemble and you will be invited for a Taster Workshop on Thursday of Week 1 (28 September 2023) for all interested students.

Rehearsal times: Wednesday 4pm to 6pm

Jazz Orchestra is open to anyone interested in jazz. We explore open arrangements by pivotal jazz composers, such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Sun Ra.

If you'd like to get involved, contact James.Mainwaring@york.ac.uk and come to a taster rehearsal on Wednesday 28 September at 4 pm finishing at 6 pm.

Gamelan music originated on the islands of Java and Bali, in Indonesia. It is played by an ensemble (also called a Gamelan) predominantly comprising bronze gongs and metallophones, with bamboo flutes, strings and other percussion. The University of York instruments - named ‘Sekar Petak’ (‘White Flower’) in honour of Yorkshire’s white rose symbol - was the first purpose-built Javanese gamelan in a British university. The instruments were first assembled and played in 1981, having been commissioned by the School of Arts and Creative Technologies' Dr Neil Sorrell from master craftsman Bapak Tentrem Sarwanto.  On 22 November each year, the anniversary of the Gamelan is marked by an informal playing session at which it is presented with flowers and fruit. 

Gamelan Sekar Petak is played regularly by an inter-departmental student group and a thriving youth ensemble. Gamelan also forms a key part of the University's community music programmes and the instruments are used regularly in outreach activity with local schools, youth groups and community partners. Gamelan Sekar Petak has toured extensively across the UK and has played internationally in Italy and Ireland, as well as making appearances on children's TV programmes for BBC and ITV. The ensemble gives an annual concert as part of the YorkConcerts series.

  • Rehearsal timesFridays 2pm to 4pm
  • Membership: Sign up by sending an email to act@york.ac.uk 

The Chimera Ensemble is one of the country's most active student-run new music ensembles. The group provides a public forum for new undergraduate and postgraduate compositions and also gives students the opportunity to perform challenging contemporary repertoire. Recent performances have included music by Julius Eastman, Catherine Lamb, Kaija Saariaho and Tōru Takemitsu, as well as numerous premieres of student compositions.

  • Rehearsal times: Thursdays, slots between 4pm and 9pm
  • Membership: This is a flexible group, so ensembles are formed based around the pieces to be played each term. Email chimerachair@gmail.com if you're interested in playing.

The Piano Ensemble performs music for multiple pianos (mostly 2-6 players at 2-6 instruments). We focus on recent pieces written especially for this unusual line-up, but we do also sometimes play arrangements of older repertoire. Recent repertoire includes pieces by Graham Fitkin, Eleanor Alberga and David Lang, as well as student commissions.

  • Membership: The ensemble is open to all, but spaces are limited, so priority is given to music students who are first-study pianists. Contact Mark Hutchinson if you are interested in joining.

The Assembled is a group of musicians dedicated to working in an experimental, exploratory manner. There is no fixed line-up and the music is devised collaboratively through structured exploration, sometimes starting from scores (of all kinds), sometimes from focused improvisation exercises.

  • Membership: Numbers are limited, but any music student can apply by contacting Catherine Laws.

The Viol Consort provides students with the unique opportunity to learn how to play the viol - a stringed instrument popular among English aristocrats in the 16th and 17th centuries. No previous experience with the instrument is necessary as the group is coached by Susanna Pell, one of the world's leading viol performers. The University owns a full set of six viols, making up a 'consort'. Elizabethan composers such as William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons wrote some of their finest ensemble music for this line-up. Come and experience the sound of a different century!

  • Director: Susanna Pell
  • Rehearsal times: Wednesdays, 1pm to 3pm during semester time
  • Membership: No past experience of playing the Viol is required and anyone can join
  • For further information please contact music@york.ac.uk

Artists in association

These internationally renowned groups provide collaboration opportunities between professional musicians and students through regular masterclasses, workshops and performances in the concert series.

I Fagiolini is a solo-voice ensemble directed by Robert Hollingworth. They are internationally renowned for putting their own twist on existing music – “The group are musical shapeshifters, following Hollingworth’s giddy, eclectic imagination wherever it leads” (The Spectator). Signature projects include: The Full Monteverdi by John La Bouchardière, Tallis in Wonderland, Simunye, the South African collaboration and How Like An Angel (HLAA), with Australian contemporary group C!RCA.

The group have travelled across the world and have performed at the Perth International Arts Festival, in New York and in cathedrals across Europe. Their 2017 performance in Cadogan Hall for Monteverdi's 450 anniversary was featured in the BBC Proms as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Quatuor Diotima is a string quartet and one of the world's leading specialist new-music ensembles. Graduates of the Paris National Conservatory created the quartet in 1996. They've worked in close collaboration with Pierre Boulez and Helmut Lachenmann. They've also commissioned new works from Toshio Hosokawa, Rebecca Saundres, Tristan Murail and many others.

The quartet specialise in bringing together contemporary music and classics of the quartet repertoire, including music by Beethoven, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel and Bartók; their recordings have won numerous awards from the international musical press, including Gramophone (Editor's Choice), The Strad, Classica (Best of the Year) and five Diapasons d'Or from the French magazine Diapason.

YUSU societies

In addition to the School ensembles, the University of York Students' Union (YUSU) runs many great groups, from Opera Society to Samba York and much more!

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