The Music Centre organises a variety of different instrumental groups to provide a wide range of opportunities for enjoying playing with others. All of them welcome players from the local community as well as students and staff of the University.
Some groups, such as the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, hold auditions at the start of the year; however, most groups are open to all without audition.
Membership by audition
The St Andrews Chamber Orchestra brings together the best instrumentalists from the University to perform a wide range of chamber orchestra repertoire from the Baroque to the present day. It is conducted by the University's Director of Music, Michael Downes, and Head of Instrumental Studies Bede Williams.
The orchestra's recent repertoire has included several symphonies by Brahms and Beethoven, overtures by Mozart and Weber, world premieres by Sally Beamish and Eddie McGuire, and piano concerti by Grieg and Beethoven (with international soloist Susan Tomes). In addition to regular concerts in St Andrews and Edinburgh, the orchestra has also toured to Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland.
- Mondays (usually) 6.45pm to 9.45pm (venue for 2019-2020 Semester 2 has still to be decided).
Membership of the orchestra is open to students, staff and members of the wider community, subject to an audition. All members of the orchestra are required to audition at the start of each season.
Auditions take place during Orientation Week in September in conjunction with other Music Centre auditions. To arrange an audition time, please contact the Music Centre office, firstname.lastname@example.org. For any enquiries about the orchestra, please email Bede Williams, email@example.com.
StAFCO is the Music Centre's orchestra for players of all standards, conducted by Gillian Craig and organised in close collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, orchestra in residence at the University.
No audition is required.
Wednesdays from 7.15pm to 9.30pm. Rehearsal for 2019-2020 Semester 2 will be held in Holy Trinity Church.
For more details of rehearsals, repertoire, etc please contact this year's Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Music Centre Graduate Trainee, Fiona Croal (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
St Andrews Baroque Ensemble welcomes players from the University and the local community. Under the direction of Claire Luxford, this ensemble explores early music repertoire from a historically informed point of view.
If you are interested in joining, please email Claire at email@example.com.
Thursdays, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
Non-auditioned ensembles for brass players are plentiful, including horn and trumpet groups led by Christine Smith and Sandy McGrattan. If numbers permit, in 2019-2020 there will be a low brass ensemble.
Any brass player wishing to know more about brass playing in St Andrews or in local brass bands should contact Bede Williams by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of any brass ensemble are required to join the Music Centre.
St Andrews Brass
St Andrews Brass is a project-based ensemble made up of scholarship brass players.
The ensemble is directed by Bede Williams and performs around five concerts during the year in St Andrews and beyond.
The Clarinet Ensemble meets on Tuesdays from 12.30pm to 2pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre. It is unauditioned, but its members generally play at a level of grade 6 or above, although less advanced players with good ensemble skills are also welcome.
The Music Centre owns two bass clarinets and an E flat clarinet, which are generally available for loan to members of the ensemble.
Please contact the Music Centre office for further details at email@example.com.
The Flute Ensemble meets on Mondays from 5pm to 6pm. It is directed by Aisling Agnew.
It is unauditioned, but its members generally play at a level of grade 6 or above, although less advanced players with good ensemble skills are also welcome.
The Music Centre owns two alto flutes and a bass flute, which are generally available for loan to members of the ensemble.
Please contact the Music Centre office for further information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guitar Ensemble welcomes guitarists with some experience. It is directed by Ian Watt.
Rehearsals are on Mondays from 6pm to 7pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre. Participants should join the Music Centre.
Classical guitars are available for Music Centre members to borrow.
Beginners' guitar classes
We also offer group lessons to beginners wishing to learn the guitar, for children, students and adults, subject to demand.
The Music Centre's jazz workshop where you are welcome to come and make mistakes. Feel free to get it wrong - because only then can you hear how to make the wrong right by using your ear. The sessions will use some notation, but most of the work will be in the jazz tradition of learning and playing by ear. At each session, you will learn a new tune and technique in improvisation
The group is open to anyone interested in jazz and improvisation. All instruments and voices are welcome and no experience is necessary.
Participants are required to join the Music Centre.
The jazz workshop is led by Richard Michael.
Days and times of workshops will be announced in Music Centre newsletters. Please contact the Music Centre office for further information by emailing email@example.com.
The St Andrews New Music Ensemble is involved in programming, commissioning and workshopping music by emerging and established composers from Scotland and beyond.
The ensemble is frequently engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations, connecting the creation of new music with research in anthropology, earth and environmental sciences, theology and astronomy.
Members are normally drawn from within the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, and are required to join the Music Centre.
Performances and highlights
The ensemble has already given over 20 world premieres and worked with James MacMillan, Sally Beamish, Thea Musgrave, Emily Doolittle, Tansy Davies and Eddie McGuire.
Recent highlights have included performances at Queen's University Belfast, MacRobert Arts Centre Stirling, Orkney Science Festival and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Steve Reich's Glasgow MINIMAL festival.
In the last two years, the ensemble gave the premiere performance of Emily Doolittle's Conversation, gave six world premieres by postgraduate composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and gave the first performance of a new score by Andrew Hill (University of Greenwich) for Eugene Bauer's 1913 silent film A Twilight of a Woman's Soul.
Highlights of 2019-2020 include first performances and territorial premieres of works by New Zealand composers Eve De Castro Robinson and Lyell Cresswell, and performances in St Andrews and Edinburgh to celebrate the UNESCO International Year of the Periodic Table.
All drummers and percussionists who have an interest in playing percussion instruments within a group setting, are welcome to join the Music Centre Percussion Ensemble.
The ensemble will meet every fortnight (time to be arranged) and is directed by Associate Teacher Thomas Lowe. No audition required.
For more information or to register a place, please email Bede Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This group welcomes players from the University and further afield.
It is conducted by Ellie Steemson and repertoire includes jazz, contemporary and classical pieces for the full range of the saxophone family, sopranino to bass.
No audition is required, although members should be able to read music. Members are required to join the Music Centre.
Rehearsals are on Mondays from 6pm to 7pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
A number of scholarships are awarded each year for students who form the Music Centre's flagship ensembles: a number of string quartets, a saxophone quartet, a wind quintet and a brass ensemble.
Please contact Bede Williams by emailing email@example.com for more information.
Hetty Buchanan String Quartet scholarships
As a result of a bequest from the estate of Hetty Buchanan, a cellist who was deeply involved in music in St Andrews throughout her life, the Music Centre is able to offer four scholarships to string players who form the Music Centre's Hetty Buchanan String Quartet.
Other string ensemble scholarships
The Music Centre awards scholarships for one or two additional string ensembles.
Each member of the scholarship ensembles receives free individual tuition, plus regular coaching by a specialist in the appropriate instrumental field.
Masterclasses and coaching from visiting musicians, including members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, are also offered on occasion.
Each ensemble rehearses regularly between coaching sessions and performs at University events.
Membership by audition
St Andrews Fusion is the Music Centre's audition-only band for musicians with a high level of playing (approximately Associated Board or Rockschool Grade 8), excellent improvisatory ability and knowledge of music theory, and experience playing in a wide range of styles (jazz, rock, funk and soul).
The band has been running since 2013 and has performed for Fife Jazz Festival, for the FFALL festival, the GYO Festival, the StAnza Poetry Festival and St Andrews New Music Week.
The band regularly performs to accompany Swing Dance St Andrews and at Kinkell Byre for the Kate Kennedy Club May Ball in addition to various other balls and weddings.
The band practices once a week and works on instrumental material as well as acting as a backing band for individual singers or groups of singers, making recordings and performing live as required.
Members are required to join the Music Centre.
If you are a musician interested in arranging an audition or a singer or group interested in working with the band, please contact the band leader Dr Jonathan Kemp by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instrumentalist auditions will involve candidates performing a piece of their choice and an improvisation test based on two chord charts with 10 minutes to prepare before performing based on the chart along to a recorded backing track or another live performer.
The group is aimed at student and keen amateur viola players of grade 5 standard and above who wish to improve through ensemble rehearsal and performing. Violinists are also welcome.
The group practices a wide variety of music from Baroque to modern.
The group is led by April Randall, Associate Teacher of Viola. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in joining.
All members are required to join the Music Centre.
Dates for this semester are to be confirmed. Rehearsals will be in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
The orchestra is open, without audition, to children in P1 to S6 who play at Grade 2 standard and above.
Within a fun yet disciplined atmosphere, conductor Gillian Craig directs the youngsters, challenging them to improve their individual abilities at the same time as developing their musicianship, orchestral and team skills.
The orchestras will perform in community concerts during the year. All members must join the Music Centre.
To register interest and for further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +44 (0)1334 46 2226.
Rehearsals take place on Wednesday afternoons from 5.30pm to 6.30pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
The following groups are independent, but have close links with the Music Centre:
- The Heisenberg Ensemble is a blend of the best local amateur and professional players. It accompanies concerts given by the St Andrews Chorus, and puts on its own concerts during the year.
- The University of St Andrews Music Society runs a symphony orchestra, wind band, big band, two choirs and a ukulele group who give performances each semester.