Skip to main content

Music Performance at Royal Holloway

Music Performance at Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway's Department of Music offers a variety of exciting performance opportunities.

Music performance at Royal Holloway is rapidly growing and developing: currently we offer a myriad of ensembles of all shapes, sizes, and genres, including a Symphony Orchestra, Chapel Choir, Chamber Orchestra, and New Music Collective, and variously can also offer an Andean Band, a Korean Percussion Group and a Gamelan Orchestra (Gamelan Puloganti). Choral Music comprises the Royal Holloway Chorus, Founder's Choir and renowned Chapel Choir; the Chapel Choir sings regularly at Royal Holloway and further afield, broadcasts on the BBC and engages in tours abroad. Students from across campus are also encouraged to apply for the annual Royal Holloway Concerto Competition, a unique opportunity to perform alongside one of the College's fine orchestras.

In addition, each year there are new student-run ensembles that vary depending on the tastes and interests of current members of the department. Our student-run Big Band (Undergraduated) is very popular.

All of our students receive specialist guidance from not only our Royal Holloway-based experts but from a wide breadth of external professional artists and our Ensembles-in-Residence. These include The Tippett QuartetCHROMAThe King's SingersLondon Mozart Players and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Royal Holloway is also an All-Steinway Institution and owns primarily Steinway and Steinway-designed instruments.

The Concert Office is the hub of performance in the department. Based here is Rebecca Miller, Director of Orchestras, and Nathan James Dearden, the College's Performance Manager. The Concert Office will happily provide information and help regarding the concert season, the orchestras and ensembles, Royal Holloway instruments and chamber days. You may also wish to contact our Instrumental & Vocal Tutor Coordinator, Dr Daniel Elphick, to address any queries regarding the instrumental and vocal lessons available to Music students.

As of summer 2019, the Department of Music will host a biennial three-day music festival, REPLAY Festival, showcasing the very best of music performance at Royal Holloway.

Orchestras at Royal Holloway

Orchestras bring people together - they employ on a daily basis  skills we all need in our day-to-day lives - collaboration, listening, respect, humility, discipline, and commitment. Through participation in orchestra, students are given a chance to develop their confidence - not only in their playing, but also in their communication and leadership skills, and we hope that they then transfer these experiences into whatever path they choose in life.

Led by internationally-acclaimed conductor Rebecca Miller, the Royal Holloway Symphony Orchestra meets weekly, giving three concerts per year in the Windsor Auditorium. The orchestra endeavours to create a lively, challenging, and social basis for orchestral life at Royal Holloway and comprises students from across the university. They also participate in side-by-side programmes with professional musicians, and through our unique partnership with the Chiltern Music Academy. For 2020-21, orchestras at Royal Holloway will also launch a new social action project called Re-Orchestrating Society, where members of orchestras at Royal Holloway work together in small teams to develop a project based around orchestras that aims to benefit society.

string section of an orchestra - fees and funding

The orchestra has recently performed alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Magna Carta 800 celebration in Runnymede, in the presence of HM the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William Duke of Cambridge, and Prime Minister David Cameron. 

The orchestra meets on Wednesday evenings, enabling students from many departments to participate as there are no lectures on Wednesday afternoons. Some weekly rehearsals are used for special workshops, reading sessions, 'come and conduct' sessions, and other activities that will serve to enhance orchestral training, complement repertoire, and enrich the orchestral life at Royal Holloway. Social activities take place throughout the year and are run by the Orchestra Committee.

Sectionals take place throughout the year, led by members of our Instrumental Faculty, and professional orchestral coaches from Royal Holloway's associations with the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Past soloists have included Tim Hugh, David Pyatt, Roger Chase, Nicola Eimer, Gemma Rosefield, James Kirby, and Mark van de Wiel. There are opportunities to perform with the orchestra through the concerto competition that takes place each Spring.

Entry is by audition during the first week of term, and comprises performing a short excerpt from a solo piece together with some sight-reading.

Applications are now closed for 2020-21.

Overhead shot of chamber orchestra at St John's Smith Square 2017 - Music

The Royal Holloway Chamber Orchestra features members of our Orchestral Scholarship programme as section leaders and others by audition. As opposed to the weekly Symphony Orchestra, the chamber orchestra operates on an intensive rehearsal process, to offer students the experience of adopting to the short-rehearsal processes found commonly in the professional world. 

The orchestra generally gives two concerts per year, and features as part of the university’s annual showcase event at St John’s Smith Square. Repertoire usually focuses on Baroque and Classical pieces, but integrates these with a range of lesser-known and contemporary works, with a recent focus on featuring female composers and composers of colour. 

Soloists include a mixture of professionals and student winners of Royal Holloway's annual concerto competition. The Royal Holloway Chamber Orchestra is the featured ensemble of our unique side-by-side programme with London Mozart Players. (include link to orchestral scholars’ page?)

The orchestra is conducted by the College's Director of Orchestras, Rebecca Miller.

Entry is by audition at the beginning of the academic year, and comprises performing a short excerpt from a solo piece together with some sight-reading.

Applications are now closed for 2020-21.

Chamber music at Royal Holloway

Want to be part of a chamber music ensemble? Already have one set-up but would like performance opportunities or professional training?

A special initiative established in 2015 by our Quartet-in-Residence, this year-long programme enables the creation and nurturing of chamber music groups at Royal Holloway, coached by leading professionals in the industry and receive regular training from members of our Quartet-in-Residence, the Tippett Quartet.

At the end of the programme, all participants are invited to perform in a showcase as part of the International Concert Series, where an invited industry specialist gives a note of thanks. A stand-out ensemble is also invited to perform their own showcase concert in the following International Concert Series season. 

Find out more about this opportunity during Welcome Week 2020. 

Choirs at Royal Holloway

The Choir of Royal Holloway (or Chapel Choir) is considered to be one of the finest mixed-voice collegiate choirs in Britain. Their recordings on the Hyperion label have attracted top reviews from all major music publications. Equally at home on the concert platform, the choir gives around 50 concerts a year with a particular specialism in music from the late renaissance and contemporary music, especially from the Baltic States. The choir also benefits from a unique training programme in collaboration with The King's Singers, an Ensemble in Residence at the College.

Choir - Music - Events

Created at the time of the foundation of Royal Holloway in 1886, the choir was originally only for women's voices. The mixed choir now comprises 24 Choral Scholars which are generously funded by Banco Santander as a part of the Santander Universities Scheme. These choral scholars undertake a busy schedule of weekly services, as well as concerts, international tours, recordings and broadcasts. In addition to these, Royal Holloway is also the only university that still maintains a tradition of daily sung morning services.

The choir has recorded eight discs with the Hyperion label since 2009. It is through this relationship with Hyperion Records, and subsequent live performances, that the choir has developed a particular reputation for the performance of music from the Baltic region.

Many new works have been composed for the choir as it continues to enjoy close collaborations with living composers. Carson P. Cooman composed The Revelations of Divine Love, a large new oratorio, for the choir in 2009 and a live recording of the US premiere has now been released by Albany Records in the USA. Other recent commisions include works from James MacMillan, Gabriel Jackson, and Richard Rodney Bennett.

The choir has toured most European countries, the US and Canada (most recently in 2018), appeared in Beijing, and been broadcast on regional and national radio and television all over the world. In the UK the choir regularly broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.

The choir enjoys regular work with different orchestras and instrumental ensembles including the Britten Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, Florilegium and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. Recently they have developed a vibrant new association with jazz-inspired trio Acoustic Triangle resulting in new compositions from Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock and a number of festival invitations. Other unusual projects have included working with Charles Hazlewood and an electric guitar orchestra formed by Portishead lead guitarist Adrian Uttley.

Recent festival engagements include the Cheltenham Festival (with Dame Felicity Lott and the City of London Sinfonia), Three Choirs Festival (with the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble), Spitalfields Festival (with the Britten Sinfonia), Swaledale Festival & Windsor Festivals (with Acoustic Triangle), and a residency at the Presteigne Festival.         

Past singers of the choir include the international soloists Dame Felicity Lott, Susan Bullock, Sarah Fox and many others who now sing with ensembles including the BBC singers, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort, The Tallis Scholars and Polyphony. Past organ scholars have attained prominent positions in many British cathedrals and public schools.

The choir is supported by two organ scholars, a Choral Music Administrator (Alexander Turner, choraladmin@royalholloway.ac.uk) and full-time Director of Choral Music and College Organist, Rupert Gough.

The choir are represented by Edition Peters Artist Management.

The choir has its own website, with news of upcoming performances, their Midweek Music concert series, recordings and information on applying for Choral and Organ Scholarships. See www.chapelchoir.co.uk for more information.

Chorus 2018

The Royal Holloway Chorus is open to all members of Royal Holloway and is not auditioned. It aspires to high standards while featuring engaging and enjoyable repertoire. There is often an opportunity for solo parts to be taken by members of the choir. There are usually two concerts on campus each year, with one normally featuring orchestral accompaniment.

It is a relaxed and friendly group who welcome all newcomers. In previous years the Chorus has sung the Paukenmesse by Haydn, John Rutter’s Gloria, Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, contemporary music by Tarik O’Regan and Rihards Dubra as well as Requiems by Brahms and Fauré.

Rehearsals for this group are project-based. For more information, please contact the Choral Music Administrator, Alexander Turner (choraladmin@royalholloway.ac.uk).

Founder's Choir 2018

The Founder’s Choir is an auditioned chamber choir of around 30 students. The choir is overseen by the Choral Music Office, but is conducted by senior music students. The choir is sociable and sings to a high-standard, often representing Royal Holloway further afield.

The choir rehearse on Monday evenings, 7:30-9:00, and sing occasional services in Chapel, including their own carol service and a termly Midweek Music concert, as well as giving external performances. In recent years these have included Hampton Court Palace and Westminster Abbey. The choir undertakes a foreign tour each year, and these have included Vienna (2016), Holland (2017), and Poland (2018). There are plans to tour in summer 2019.

The choir aims for a high-standard and expects commitment from its members. It is managed by a student committee who between them run most of the choir’s events.

To find out more, email the Founder’s Choir: founderschoir@gmail.com.

Concert management at Royal Holloway

Ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes? Who organises the publicity for an event? How to coordinate and manage a rehearsal schedule?

This special programme is a professional development scheme for those who have a thirst for this field of arts administration or would like to explore a behind-the-scenes view of music. Many of the successful applicants who have participated in this programme have gone on to work in arts administration having graduated, working at institutions such as the Royal Opera House, Southbank Centre, Winchester College and many more. 

This is a special staff-led programme in which students can apply for positions in one of four teams; Programme Production TeamPublicity & Promotion TeamQuartet-in-Residence Liaison TeamNew Music Artist Personnel Team. Mentored by curator, event manager and Music Performance Manager at Royal Holloway, Nathan James Dearden, twelve successful applicants will be placed into a team based on their strengths and interests as shown in their application and interview.

Applications open in September of every academic year. This opportunity is open to undergraduate music students.

Contemporary music at Royal Holloway

The New Music Collective gives a series of new music concerts each year at Royal Holloway. Its programme features contemporary music by established and emerging composers and regularly features the music of Royal Holloway composers. There are opportunities for students to perform concertos and to collaborate with visiting professional performers including the New Music Ensemble-in-Residence, CHROMA. Recent repertoire has included John Adams's Chamber Symphony, Ligeti’s Sech Bagatellen, Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques, Terry Riley's In C, and a much anticipated performance of Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic as part of the 2017 PLAY! Festival. 

In 2016, the New Music Collective were the resident ensemble for the inaugural Picture Gallery Composer-in-Residence Scheme

New Music Collective 2

Acclaimed pianist, Mary Dullea, and composer, Nathan James Dearden, have recently taken the roles of Curator and Conductor for the New Music Collective and are looking forward to many exciting projects with this ensemble.

Entry to the New Music Collective is open to all, however good sight-reading is essential. If you are interested in singing with this ensemble, please contact Nathan James Dearden

New Voices Consort 1

Led by Royal Holloway composer and conductor, Nathan James Dearden, the New Voices Consort is a dynamic ensemble whose aim is to present a diverse range of vocal and choral music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to the highest standard, facilitating the opportunity for singers and audiences alike to experience new and exciting music. Recent repertoire has included music by Judith Weir, Michael Finnissy (including one world premiere), Robert Ashley, David Lang, Howard Skempton, Nathan James Dearden, and Michael Tippett.  

This new vocal ensemble had their inaugural concert as part of an exciting three-day festival in October 2016, Spotlight Series: Finnissy at 70,in the presence of esteemed British composer Michael Finnissy and Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir. This event was co-sponsored by the Institute of Musical Research

Entry to the New Voices Consort is open to all, however good sight-reading is essential. If you are interested in singing with this ensemble, please contact Nathan James Dearden

Early music at Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway's Department of Music hosts several staff who are specialists in the performance of early instrumental and vocal music, and owns a double-manual harpsichord, a chamber organ, a fortepiano and a chest of viols. The Early Music Ensemble, composed of students and staff, regularly rehearse and perform in the department's concert series and fringe events.

Harpsichord

Students receive incomparable mentoring from in-house experts such as Dr Stephen Rose and Dr Helen Deeming, plus coaching from visiting specialists in period performance such as the one of the UK's leading concert countertenors, Tim Travers-Brown, to Baroque violinist and Leader at the Academty of Ancient Music, Pavlo Beznosiuk.

Entry is open to all students with an interest in early music performance (priority given to this specialising in this field as part of their enrolled degree). Please contact Dr Stephen Rose for more information. 

Jazz and popular music at Royal Holloway

A professional development programme for jazz, popular music and musical theatre specialists

The Department of Music launched a new programme in 2020 where the College's finest musical theatre, acoustic pop and jazz acts (two or more participants in each group) can receive professional feedback and training on their setlist, prepared music to their performance technique. If you are a musical theatre chorus, jazz quintet to a vocalist and guitarist, this is the programme for you. 

This special programme has seen award-winning jazz singer Irene give a session on gig preparation and performance technique, acclaimed vocal coach Robert Greenhill give a masterclass to our musical theatre specialists, plus a series of digital forums on the music industry with Irene Serra and PRS for Music. 

World music at Royal Holloway

Andean band in Picture Gallery - Music

The unique Andean Band, the only one of its type in the UK, specialises in the performance of music from the Bolivian Andes and gives a diverse range of performances, often in collaboration with the UK-based Andean musicians. It is directed by Reader in Music Dr Henry Stobart and performs on his collection of several hundred instruments (panpipes, flutes, drums, and guitars).

Andean Band is usually offered as an undergraduate Ensemble Performance course unit on alternate years (alternating with the Gamelan Ensemble 'Puloganti'), and runs as an extrcurricular ensemble open to all at other times.

Gamelan - Music - Events

The Gamelan Ensemble 'Puloganti', directed by Honorary Lecturer Simon Cook, specialises in the Sundanese style of West Java (gamelan degung and salendro) and gives a wide range of performances each year. In 2004 the Music Department purchased its own exquisite set of bronze gamelan instruments ('Gamelan Puloganti') which was shipped especially from Java. It is one of the finest sets of Sundanese instruments in the UK.

Gamelan is usually offered as an undergraduate Ensemble Performance course unit on alternate years (alternating with Andean Band), and runs as an extrcurricular ensemble open to all at other times.

Our Korean Percussion Group has started rehearsing and performing on campus and beyond. Led by Senior Lecturer Dr Shzr Ee Tan, the ensemble has explored indoor samulnori and outdoor nong-ak (farmer's music) repertoire.

The group runs as an extracurricular activity on alternate Mondays in the Woodlands Building from 1.00pm - 2.00pm. Contact Shzr Ee Tan for more details of how to get involved.

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today