Music Ensembles

Ensembles You Can Join

Open to all UNSW students by audition: UNSW Orchestra, Burgundian Consort, Jazz Orchestra, Latin Jazz Conjunto (T3 only) and Tango Ensemble (T3 only). 

Open to all UNSW students no audition: Choir: The Handel Workshop (T2 Only), Collegium Musicum Choir (T1 & T3) and UNSW Wind Symphony (T1 & T3).

Open to any UNSW students through the courses BA Performance Labs A/MUSC1708 (12UOC) or Music Ensemble/MUSC4706 (6UOC), as well as all UNSW BMus students: 

Audition or Submission required: Advanced Jazz Ensemble, Balkan Ensemble, Chamber Music Ensemble, Colla Voce, Contemporary Composition Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Intermediate Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra and Sound Lab Live.

No Audition required: Balinese Gamelan, Fundamentals of Improvisation, Handbells Ensemble, Jazz Composition Ensemble, Jazz Keyboard Ensemble, Latin Conjunto, Sound Lab Studio and West African Drum. 

Performance Lab Students 

Students enrolled in a performance lab course must participate in an ensemble as a course requirement. These students must be aware that they need to attend 80% of ensemble classes as they would any other SAM class in order to meet the course requirements. These students will do part checking in Weeks 10 or 11, depending on the ensemble, and will receive an ensemble grade and feedback. 

Students must also register/audition for an ensemble during O-Week as all ensembles start in Week 1. If students find themselves not signed up to an ensemble by Week 1, they must contact their convenor immediately. 

Below are details of how to sign up, or audition for each ensemble for Trimester 2020. 

Ensemble Directors:

Schedule: weeks 1-10, Thursday 4pm-6pm, Webster G16 

Concert: Friday 17th April, 7pm 

Registration/audition: Please submit a paragraph about yourself and short recording of your jazz performance and improvisation by emailing this to the ensemble director Alister Spence by Wednesday 12th February to register your interest for the ensemble for T1. See below for the audition format. Please provide your student Id, Performance Lab course code (specify whether this will be your primary ensemble), or Ensemble Elective Course Code. 

Overview: This ensemble is for students who are experienced in jazz improvisation and have some practical performance experience. Vocalists and instrumentalists on any instrument are welcome in this ensemble. It is intended that participants will gain insight and experience and develop a more effective performance practice, both as a soloist, and as a member of a contemporary jazz ensemble. Pieces will be chosen performed in the ensemble from standard and contemporary jazz and jazz related repertoire, covering a wide range of styles and rhythmic approaches. Original works are welcomed! 

Topics that will explored include: applying modes, understanding choices related to harmony, re-harmonisation, metric modulation, rhythmic and melodic development. Stylistic flexibility and abstraction will also be touched on. Time will be spent seeking to develop effective group, soloist, and rhythm section interactions. 

The Advanced Jazz Ensemble works in a supportive and encouraging environment. The performance results have been consistently outstanding! The ensemble will give a public performance in conjunction with the Jazz orchestra in week 9 on Friday 17th April, at 7pm. Performance at this concert is compulsory for ensemble members. 

Audition Format

Please send a short paragraph about your musical experience and a short recording of yourself performing a 12 bar jazz blues in the following format: 

  • 1 chorus of melody 
  • An improvised solo over the form of the composition (2 choruses) 
  • 1 chorus of melody 
  • Drummers should play a blues in the following format: 
  • Play the rhythm of the chosen blues melody (e.g. Billie’s Bounce, Tenor Madness) on the kit (1 chorus) 
  • 2 choruses of solo over the 12 bar blues form 
  • 1 chorus of melody 

Previous members of the Advanced Jazz Ensemble are not required to audition. However, they must contact Alister Spence by email before Wednesday 11th September if they are intending to continue. Please provide your student ID, Performance Lab course code (specify whether this will be your primary ensemble), or Ensemble Elective Course Code. 

2019 Jazz Syllabus

Ensemble Director: A/Prof Manolete Mora 

Schedule: weeks 1-10, Tuesday 4pm-6pm, Robert Webster 331 

The Balinese gamelan at UNSW is a variation of the semar pegulingan type, a gong-chime ensemble consisting of up to thirty players. The UNSW ensemble consists of metallophones, gongs, and other instruments, such as flutes, fiddles, drums and cymbals. This type of gamelan music is based on a seven-tone scale and can be used to perform a diverse repertoire including contemporary gong kebyar compositions, which are characterised by brilliant sounds, syncopations, sudden and gradual changes in sound colour, dynamics, tempo and articulation, and complex, complementary interlocking melodic-rhythmic patterns (kotekan). 

No auditions required, please email ensemble director if interested. 

Ensemble Directors: Mara Kiek and Llew Kiek

Sign up: email your interest to Mara Kiek

Schedule: weeks 1-10, Tuesday 4pm-6pm, Webster 306 

In the Balkan Ensemble course, for both singers and instrumentalists, students will learn about characteristic elements of Balkan folk music, particularly the complex rhythms and harmonies that uniquely identify the music of this region. There will be a focus on the vocal technique required for authentic performance of Bulgarian traditional singing, and plenty of opportunities for rhythm comping and traditional modal and contemporary improvisation for instrumentalists and vocalists.

Please note, all participants will be required to sing as part of the training. The course is run by two of Australia’s most influential world music pioneers.

Burgundian Consort, directed by Sonia Maddock

Day & Time: Every Monday during term from 4pm-6pm online

This class is open to continuing members only. New members will not be accepted in Term 2

Enquiries: Please email Music Performance Unit at cmc@unsw.edu.au

ONLINE in T3 2020

Ensemble Director: Dr Kim Burwell 

Classical chamber music is for pre-formed small ensembles. To arrange an audition, you should email me (k.burwell@unsw.edu.au) with a list of ensemble members and instruments, ready to perform repertoire that you have previously rehearsed, even if it is still a work in progress. You should also be prepared to discuss your intentions for repertoire during the term. The repertoire should be challenging and should offer participants shared responsibilities across a range of ensemble skills. There may be some scope to negotiate schedules: the earlier you get in touch, the more scope we will have. Feel free to contact me at any time, for more information, feedback on ideas, or appointments for auditions.

Handel Choruses Workshop, directed by Sonia Maddock

Day & Time:  Every Wednesday from 4pm-5pm during term online

Please email cmc@unsw.edu.au to register

Term 3 only

Ensemble Director: Dallas Watts  

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Tuesday 4pm-6pm, Robert Webster 334 

COLLA VOCE  (Vocal Workshop) 

This ensemble is for those singers who want to get on stage and perform solos,duets and larger chorus scenes from Operas and Musicals. Improvisation interacts with major vocal works, culminating in a major night performance at the Io Myers Studio at UNSW. 

The theme of the concert will be LIBERTE (liberty).The workshop will explore the way the politics of the French Revolution has impacted on Western Classical Music. Excerpts from Carmen, Les Miserables, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Fidelio, Faure's Requiem, Andrea Chenier and La Traviata will be explored for the final showing. 

Audition Requirements: Find the lyrics/music for the French National Anthem (La Marsellaise) and select/sing two verses * in either French or English (preferably both). A rehearsal Accompanist will be available on the day, and there will also be a part-singing extract given at the audition, so you will need to set aside the full 2 hours for the audition. 

Collegium Musicum Choir is not on offer in T2, 2020. 

Enquiries: Please email Music Performance Unit at cmc@unsw.edu.au

 

Ensemble Director: John Peterson   

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Monday 4-6pm, Robert Webster G18 

John Peterson will be directing the Contemporary Composition Ensemble in Term 1, 2020. There are places open in the ensemble, so if you are interested please contact John via email as soon as possible to register. You must contact John before the first meeting in Week 1 of the term, as late enrolments will only be considered if places are available within the ensemble. 

The Contemporary Composition Ensemble offers an "experimental space" where students create, rehearse, and participate in the performance of new works no matter their level of experience. While a series of short seminars will supplement the course, the focus here is on practical music making, on not only the ways composers capture and shape their ideas, but also how they can best bring their “paper music” to life. 

By the end of the semester, students will have learned ways of developing their aural acuity, particularly their “inner ear”; refined their compositional technique through in-class tasks and feedback; improved their notation skills; and gained experience in leading a rehearsal. Most importantly, though, they will have heard a work of their own performed by an ensemble of their peers in a wholly supportive environment.

Ensemble Director: Eamon Dilworth

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Wednesday 4pm-6pm, Webster G18 

Sign up: Email ensemble director Eamon Dilworth to sign up.  

This is a 2 hour performance class that explores the 'how to' of improvisation in a practical setting. 

No prior knowledge of improvisation is necessary, however participants in this ensemble are expected to be able to play their instruments with some proficiency, and to be able to read music. 

The ensemble will perform together in an extended rhythm section and melody instruments workshop setting, with the repertoire being chosen primarily from the jazz tradition though not limited to that. 

The harmonic and melodic structure of the pieces will be analysed and scalic/ modal possibilities suggested. Each student will be given an opportunity to explore these ideas in the performance of the piece(s). Pointers will also be given on group performance, 'groove', dynamics etc. 

2019 Jazz Syllabus

Ensemble Director: Janet Agostino  

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Wednesday 4pm-6pm, Webster 331 

Audition Date: Wednesday 12th February at 4pm in Webster Room 331 

Students who played in the Guitar Ensemble in 2019 do not need to re-audition. All other students will be required to audition prior to Week 1.  

Please contact the ensemble director Janet Agostino to discuss your intent to audition.  

The UNSW Guitar Ensemble provides a forum for classical guitar students to explore a wide range of repertoire as well as to refine ensemble skills, including sight reading, rhythmic and stylistic accuracy, balance and creating an effective tonal palette. There will be performances scheduled throughout the year and participation in these will form part of the assessment for the course. 

Ensemble Director: Jonathan Ong 

Schedule: Weeks 1-10 Thursday 4-6pm, Robert Webster 331 

Email ensemble director ASAP to secure your place. 

The Handbells ensemble features the university's own set of Malmark Bells, a professional instrument that offers students a fun and unique way to make music together. 

The ensemble plays a diverse range of repertoire, ranging from folk tunes and classical music to contemporary, film scores, original compositions; we are only limited by the input in the ensemble. Students have the opportunity to write or arrange their own works for the ensemble, and accepted compositions will give students the opportunity to conduct their own work. The Handbells ensemble plays (at least one) concert at the end of the semester; this may require participation outside of the normal rehearsal hours of the ensemble. 

Up to 14 students will be accepted into the ensemble. No prior experience is required, however, apply promptly as places are limited and fill up fast. 

No auditions required. 

Ensemble Director: Adrian Klumpes

Entry for new members is by email audition on or before Wednesday 12th February. 

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Wednesday 4pm-6pm, Webster G16. 

Concert: Thursday 23rd April, at 7pm. 

This ensemble is for students who already have practical experience in jazz improvisation and a good knowledge of chordal harmony and associated scales/modes. The ensemble is intended to deepen an understanding of jazz improvisational practice through the performance of pieces carefully chosen in a range of jazz related styles.

Areas of focus include developing an improvisational language, chord/scale theory, guide tones, jazz voicings, group interaction, effective rhythmic expression and knowledge of repertoire. Vocalists and instrumentalists on any instrument are welcome in this ensemble as long as they have the experience and knowledge to complete the audition requirements set out below.

Auditions for new members will be conducted by email. Please email Adrian Klumpes on or before Wednesday 12th February. Membership will be confirmed by email by Friday 14th February. 

Please state: 

  • Your instrument(s) 
  • Your background (if any) in improvisation 
  • Your Performance Lab Course Code, and whether this will be your Primary Ensemble or your Ensemble Elective code. 
  • Any other relevant information e.g. any specific improvisatory skills you want to develop, any particular reasons you are interested in this ensemble. 

In the same email, please include:

A short (1 to 2 minute) recording of you performing a 12 bar jazz blues with a swing feel in the following format: 

  • 1 chorus of melody 
  • 2 choruses of improvised solo over the form of the blues clearly outlining the chord sequence 
  • 1 chorus of melody 

Please send as an MP3. 

Drummers play a blues with a swing feel in the following format: 

  • Play the rhythm of the chosen blues melody (e.g. Billie’s Bounce, Tenor Madness) on the kit (1 chorus)
  • 2 choruses of solo over the 12 bar blues form
  • 1 chorus of melody

Please send as an MP3.

Previous members of the ensemble do not need to audition. However, they must contact Sandy Evans by email on or before on or before  Wednesday 11th September to confirm their interest in joining the ensemble in Term 2 2019. Please provide your student Id, Performance Lab course code and specify whether or not this will be your primary ensemble or Ensemble Elective. Membership will be confirmed by email by Friday 13th September

2019 Jazz Syllabus

Ensemble Directors:

Schedule: Ensemble runs weeks 1-10, Tuesday 4pm-6pm, Webster G18.

Registration: To join this ensemble in T1, please email an Expression of Interest to Alister Spence by Wednesday 12th February. Please state your instrument and a brief description of any experience you have performing and/or composing jazz (this is not essential). Include your student ID and either your Performance Lab Course Code, or your Ensemble Elective course code.  

Overview: This ensemble is for students who are interested to gain understanding and experience in jazz composition and have a reasonably sound knowledge of music theory, but not necessarily any jazz composition experience. As this is a performance ensemble it is important that students are reasonably proficient on their instruments, however jazz performance experience is not necessarily required.

The information content is divided into term modules. Previous members of the ensemble are welcome to enrol again for T2 as different material will be covered. Please email Alister Spence to confirm your membership for T2.

The course will be both theoretical and practical. Examples will be listened to and analysed and also performed in class time. The relationship between the compositions and the improvisational opportunities that they offer will be explored. There will be two short composition assignments set during the semester and a more substantial composition to be presented at the end of the semester, rehearsed and performed in class time by members of the ensemble. The jazz composition ensemble offers a wonderful opportunity to hear your compositional ideas performed!

Limited to 8 students for T3 2020

Ensemble Director: Alister Spence 

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Wednesday 4pm-6pm, Webster Room 141 (level 1) 

Registration: To join this ensemble in T1, please email an Expression of Interest to Alister Spence by Wednesday 12th February. Please provide a brief description of your piano playing history, including any experience you may have performing jazz (this is not essential). Include your student ID and either your Performance Lab Course Code, or your Ensemble Elective course code. 

Overview: This ensemble is for students who have little or no jazz performance experience, but are keen to learn how to voice chords, accompany effectively and improvise on the piano in a variety of jazz-related styles. 

By listening to audio examples and studying well-known jazz repertoire the ensemble will gain experience in applying stylistically appropriate chord voicings, bass lines, accompaniment rhythms, modes and scales for improvisation and improvisational approaches, as well as effective ways to interact as an ensemble. Each member will take it in turns performing within the ensemble as bass line players, chordal accompanists, melody players and soloists. Time will be given for individual investigation and skill development as well as ensemble performance. 

The ensemble will be capped at 12 people due to the lab’s facilities. 

Some piano performance ability is required. Please email Alister if you have any queries regarding this. 

Ensemble Director: Ellen Kirkwood

Entry for new members is by email audition on or before Wednesday 12th February. 

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Wednesday 6pm-8pm, Webster G16.

Concert: Friday 17th April, 7pm.

UNSW Jazz Orchestra is a dynamic ensemble that plays jazz big band repertoire in a range of styles with energy, passion and originality. 

Auditions for new members will be conducted by email: Please email Sandy Evans on or before Wednesday 12th February. Membership will be confirmed by email by Friday 14th February. 

Please state: 

  • Your instrument(s) 
  • Your background (if any) in improvisation 
  • Your Performance Lab Course Code, and whether this will be your Primary Ensemble, or your Ensemble Elective Code. 
  • Any other relevant information e.g. any specific improvisatory skills you want to develop, any particular reasons you are interested in this ensemble. 

In the same email, please include: 

A short (1 to 2 minute) recording of you performing a 12 bar jazz blues with a swing feel in the following format: 

  • 1 chorus of melody 
  • 2 choruses of improvised solo over the form of the blues clearly outlining the chord sequence (for non-improvisers this can be a written out solo) 
  • 1 chorus of melody 

Please send as an MP3. 

Drummers play a blues with a swing feel in the following format: 

  • Play the rhythm of the chosen blues melody (e.g. Billie’s Bounce, Tenor Madness) on the kit (1 chorus) 
  • 2 choruses of solo over the 12 bar blues form 
  • 1 chorus of melody 

Please send as an MP3. 

Previous members of the Jazz Orchestra are not required to audition. However, they must contact Sandy Evans by email on or before Wednesday 12th February to confirm their interest in joining the ensemble in Term 1, 2020. Please provide your student ID, Performance Lab course code and specify whether or not this will be your primary ensemble, or your Ensemble Elective course code. Sandy will confirm your membership of Jazz Orchestra by Friday 14th February. 

Students are expected to: 

  • Practise written parts 
  • Prepare for any improvised solos in their book 
  • Listen to recordings of the works being studied 
  • Attend big band performances in Sydney during the semester 
  • Attend all classes punctually 
  • Perform at the Jazz Orchestra concert on Tuesday 21st April, at 7pm. 

Previous experience playing jazz and/or improvising is helpful but is not a prerequisite. Brass players from any background are particularly encouraged to apply. Sight-reading ability is required on all instruments. 

2019 Jazz Syllabus

ONLINE only in T3

Ensemble Convenor: Manolete Mora

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Thursday 4-5pm , Robert Webster G18.

The Latin Conjunto is dedicated to the performance of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian genres, such as:  son, pachanga, mambo, salsa, samba and choro. Both instrumentalists and vocalist are invited to join the ensemble through audition. All students will learn the fundamental rhythms for these various genres, and some may elect to learn the percussion instruments. Auditions will be held in O-week but also please apply to Mano via email: m.mora@unsw.edu.au

T3 is CANCELLED

Ensemble Director: Sonya Lifschitz 

Expressions of interest to audition for the ensemble should be emailed to the ensemble director in O-week of Term 1. 

Schedule: Weeks 1-5, 6-10, Day/Time TBC, Robert Webster G16 

The Ensemble's mission is to INSPIRE and PROVOKE both the music makers and the listeners to examine, broaden and re-define the boundaries of music and the musical experience in the 21st century. 

UNSW NEW MUSIC COLLECTIVE was formed in 2018 under the directorship of the internationally-acclaimed pianist Dr. Sonya Lifschitz. The ensemble is dedicated to the creation and performance of new work as well as experimental and concert music of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Currently, the ensemble consists of 8 members who bring exceptional performance, improvisation, arranging and compositional skills to enable creation and performance of advanced and challenging contemporary (art) music repertoire in curated, imaginative contexts. In 2018/2019, the ensemble performed: 

Workers Union (1975) by Louis Andriessen; Changing Light (2002) by Kaija Saariaho; Tuning Meditation by Pauline Oliveros; Opera with Objects (1997) by Alvin Lucier; The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs (1942) by John Cage; Action Music 2 (2018) by Erik Griswold; Coming Together (1971) and Attica (1972) by Frederic Rzewski, and Facing the Danger (1986) by Vincent Plush among others. 

Membership of the UNSW New Music Collective is by audition only, and is based on demonstrated high level performance skills, interest in contemporary (20th and 21st century) concert music, openness and curiosity to work with graphic notation including elements of improvisation, and well-developed collaborative skills. 

NOTE: Due to limited lab spaces and social distancing, numbers are limited for T3. Please see below for application process.

Ensemble Director: Dr Adam Hulbert 

T3 2020 - Heterotopias: The New Outside

Sound Lab (Live) ensemble is offered to musicians who would like to produce and perform new electroacoustic works. You are encouraged to use your existing techniques with DAW environments and traditional instrumentation and/or expand these to incorporate UNSW’s collection of fixed-architecture and modular synthesisers. Primary tools for the performance will be Ableton Live with Push and hardware synths. You'll will be given support for learning these where needed. The ensemble will perform live in a multimedia environment, and video artists/VJs are welcome to apply. In T3 performances of the works will be filmed in Studio One.

In T3 this ensemble is offered as face-to-face, with social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Of course, nothing is certain, and if a lockdown is declared you’ll need to be willing (and able) to adapt to working remotely.

About the theme

Heterotopia is a concept elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault to describe certain cultural, institutional and discursive spaces that are somehow ‘other’: disturbing, intense, incompatible, contradictory or transforming. Heterotopias are worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet upsetting what is outside. (Wikipedia)

In the second Sound Lab Live for 2020, you are invited to respond to the concept of ‘heterotopias’ by creating a soundscape that reimagines an existing place. T3 sees a return to campus, which means we can start to use the hardware machines. You are are encouraged to use field recording, as well as hardware instruments such as Buchla Music Easel, Modular synth, Dave Smith Prophet, Arturia minibrute, Theremin, or Fairlight CMI, or your own instrument in a new context. You’ll also be asked to film some material for projection-mapped visuals that will accompany the filmed performance.

Application process

With a return to campus, lab spaces are limited, so an expression of interest will accepted on or before Friday 4th September. Late submissions will be considered only if all spaces have not been filled.

Expression of interests should answer the following:

  1. Name/zID/Email/Ensemble course code.
  2. Your initial idea: what space are you thinking of?
  3. Do you wish to work collaboratively or individually?
  4. Your reason for applying.
  5. Your experience with electronic music and instruments you’d like to use.*
  6. Two song/musical piece/installations that currently inspire your approach.

*Experience is not essential, just a willingness to experiment and learn.

All inquiries and applications go to Adam Hulbert: a.hulbert@unsw.edu.au

Not running in T3

Ensemble Director: Dr Adam Hulbert 

Schedule: Weeks 1 - 10, Monday 4pm - 6pm in Webster 140 

Sound Lab (Studio) is intended for students who are interested in developing their ability to work in a studio environment. This ensemble focuses on studio recording and mixing techniques for a range of instruments and involves collaborating with other musicians and ensembles to record their performances. Participants will also use their recorded material to develop remixes. 

Ensemble Director: Dr John Napier 

Please express your interest during O-Week to Dr John Napier. 

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Thursdays 4pm-6pm Webster, level 3, room 334 

The Tango Ensemble will play classic Argentine tangos and milongas, using scores originally mostly written and arranged between 1930 and 1950. For pianists, players of orchestral strings, flute, clarinet, saxophone. Places in this group are limited and if auditions are required, they will be held in O-week, but please email John by sending your application to Dr John Napier.

UNSW Orchestra (T2)

MPU onsite rehearsals for UNSW Orchestra and Wind Symphony will not take place in Term 2

Please email John Napier j.napier@unsw.edu.au for alternate online class options.

Wind Symphony (T2)

MPU onsite rehearsals for UNSW Orchestra and Wind Symphony will not take place in Term 2

Please email John Napier j.napier@unsw.edu.au for alternate online class options.

 

Ensemble Convenor: Manolete Mora

Schedule: Weeks 1-10, Thursday 4-6pm, Robert Webster G18 

This ensemble features the djembe drums (also ‘jembe’) a ‘goblet’ shaped drum whose origins are associated with the Mandinka peoples of the former Mali Empire. These drums are now part of various musical cultures from West Africa including but not limited to the nations of Senegal, Guinea, and Mali. The djembe is played with the hand while the three accompanying dunun drums (also dundun, djun djun) and bells are played with sticks. Traditional djembe ensemble music is learned aurally and presents rhythmic challenges to the musician. The ensemble instruction will also include some singing and dancing. 

No auditions required. 

Organisational units