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 2022/23 academic year is now available below for many of our ensembles. Auditions start from 28 September.

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.

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

Registration evening and auditions 2022

Date: Monday 26 September 2022 from 6.30pm in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall Foyer.

The registration evening includes welcome drinks and the opportunity to meet choir members, as well as purchasing membership and music.

Auditions will also take place that evening. Only external members will need to audition, please set this up with Catherine Duncan. 

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.

Auditions 2022

Dates: Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 Sepember 2022

  • Please email Abigail Helsby at ajh684@york.ac.uk beforehand with your voice type, your year and what are you studying.
  • 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 relatively simple 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.

Auditions 2022

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 28 September from 9.30am
  • Thursday 29 September from 2pm
  • Friday 30 September from 9.30am
  • Saturday 1 October from 9.30am
  • Sunday 2 October 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 term 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 2022

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 28 September from 9.30am
  • Thursday 29 September from 2pm
  • Friday 30 September from 9.30am
  • Saturday 1 October from 9.30am
  • Sunday 2 October 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 term 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 brings together undergraduate and postgraduate performers to explore the historically-informed performance style - rediscovering ideas from the Baroque and Classical period about how this music was intended to be performed, with guidance from experts in historical performance. Members don't need any special instruments or equipment, though string players may choose to use Baroque bows. The ensemble performs throughout the year, including the prestigious York Early Music Festival each summer.

  • Directors: Lucy Russell, Rachel Gray and Jennifer Cohen
  • Rehearsal times: Thursday afternoons from 1.30pm

Auditions 2022

We're looking for string players, oboists, flautists and bassoonist of Grade 8 standard and above with good sight-reading ability.

  • When: Thursday 29 September, 2pm to 5pm
  • How to book: Please email rachel.gray@york.ac.uk
  • Audition information: Prepare a piece of Baroque music, no more than five minutes. There will be no accompaniment while you play and this will be followed by some sight-reading.

The University Jazz Orchestra is a single-seat, auditioned jazz orchestra playing contemporary arrangements for big band. The orchestra plays classics of the jazz repertoire and more recent compositions by Kenny Wheeler, Maria Schneider, John Taylor and others.

Auditions 2022

Jazz Orchestra is traditionally saxophones, trumpets, trombones, rhythm section with sometimes vocals, but if you play something else and are keen to be involved I am always interested to hear.

If you play a jazz instrument but it is not your first study, please still audition. You are also welcome to audition on multiple instruments.

  • When: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2022, 9.30am to 6pm (please arrive ten minutes before your audition slot)
  • Location: Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, room 058

Sign up

To book a slot, contact James Mainwaring at james.mainwaring@york.ac.uk with the approximate time that suits you and the instrument(s) you play.

Audition information

  • You'll be asked to play five minutes of a prepared piece, which should be a work that you know well and displays you to your best advantage.
  • If you are from a jazz background you're welcome to incorporate improvisation, eg over a jazz standard or a blues.
  • If you would like to use a backing track you can email this in advance and it can be played through our sound system.
  • There will be a short passage of sight-reading taken from a standard piece of repertoire (to assess potential rehearsal needs rather than sight-reading ability).
  • For this ensemble, we are mostly interested in tone quality, projection and rhythmic precision.

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.

  • Director: Emily Crossland
  • Rehearsal timesFridays 2pm to 4pm
  • Membership: Sign up by emailing the director Emily Crossland at emily.crossland@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 term 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!