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.
A video of the orchestra's performance of Shostakovich Symphony No.9, Op.70 is here.
When restrictions allow, repertoire for 2020-2021 will include Strauss Metamorphosen for 23 Strings, Dvorak Wind Serenade and music for brass ensemble by Britten, Bohme and Beamish.
- to be confirmed
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.
Rehearsals will resume as soon as restrictions allow. StAFCO has exciting plans for an online project based on a new arrangement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
For more details of rehearsals and the online project, please contact this year's Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Music Centre Graduate Trainee - Brogan Orkney firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently reviewing opportunities for players who have a particular interest in baroque music.
Anyone who wishes to be kept informed of updates should email Bede Williams email@example.com
Opportunities for brass players are plentiful, and any brass player interested in ensemble playing should contact email Bede Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org. Opportunities are created each year on a bespoke basis, and all brass players have the opportunity to benefit from the team of outstanding visiting brass specialists.
Any brass player wishing to be considered for a scholarship for instrumental lessons or to be part of the scholarship brass ensemble should do a Music Centre instrumental audition at the beginning of the academic year. Details will be posted on this page. Brass scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to work with the Wallace Collection, the University's ensemble in residence.
Brass players at the University may also be interested to know about StAMP, the University's major outreach project which is focused on brass teaching and performance. See the StAMP website for more information.
The Clarinet Ensemble is unauditioned, but members generally play at a level of Grade 6 or above, although less advanced players with good ensemble skills are also welcome. The ensemble will begin rehearsals as soon as possible, and anyone interested in joining should email email@example.com
The Flute Ensemble 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 ensemble will begin rehearsals as soon as possible, and anyone interested in joining should email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Guitar Ensemble welcomes guitarists with some experience. It is directed by Ian Watt.
When restrictions allow, rehearsals will resume on Mondays from 6pm to 7pm in the Laidlaw Music Centre. Participants must 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.
Richard Michael (Honorary Professor of Jazz) will lead these sessions by teaching well known tunes by ear. Suitable for all instruments and singers of all abilities. The sessions will develop your aural skills and your general musicianship, and are guaranteed to be fun. Richard is well known internationally for his work as a performer and educator, and has most recently delivered online sessions for the Nicola Benedetti Foundation in which he helped 1000s of musicians from around the world to develop their skills in playing music without printed music. He has collaborated with the band of the luminary jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
These sessions are only open to Music Centre members.
Future workshop dates to be announced.
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
- six world premieres by postgraduate composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- 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 included 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.
When restrictions allow, the ensemble will aim to meet every fortnight, directed by Associate Teacher Thomas Lowe. No audition required.
For more information or to register a place, please email Bede Williams at email@example.com.
This group welcomes players from the University and further afield.
It is conducted by Cat Evison, 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.
The ensemble will begin rehearsals as soon as possible, and anyone interested in joining should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of scholarships are awarded each year for students who form the Music Centre's flagship ensembles. Auditions take place at the start of each academic year.
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 further scholarships for a number of string quartets or ensembles.
String ensemble scholarship benefits
Each scholar receives individual tuition and regular coaching as part of the group from Feargus Hetherington or Andrew Lees, and occasional coaching from Lucy Russell of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet.
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.
Members of the Music Centre Scholarship Wind Quintet receive weekly coaching as an ensemble and individual tuition on their instrument. Anyone interested in auditioning should do a Music Centre instrumental audition at the start of the academic year, or email Bede Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org
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
- 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. It also acts 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining.
All members are required to join the Music Centre.
As soon as restrictions allow, we will resume rehearsals in the Laidlaw Music Centre.
Due to the circumstances, it is unclear whether the Youth Orchestra can run this year. This page will be updated with any developments.
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 email@example.com 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.