University Music and the Music Society has many ensembles to get involved in, and some require an audition to participate. Everyone is encouraged to sign up, and our auditions are relaxed and friendly and aim to place musicians in the most suitable ensemble for them.
We only hold auditions once per year, and these always occur at the start of the new academic year.
Audition information for instrumentalists, singers, pianists, and jazz musicians can be found below, as well useful materials available for download.
Auditions for Instrumentalists
To take part in our Philharmonic Orchestra or Symphony Orchestra (or an auditioned University Music ensemble, such as New Music Ensemble, Symphonic Brass, or Baroque-Classical Orchestra) you will need to audition.
Allocations to all of the auditioned instrumental groups are completed following the same round of auditions (usually held in Week 1 of the academic year). Please note that if you are auditioning on more than one instrument, you will need to sign up for one time slot per instrument .
INSTRUMENTAL AUDITIONS are usually about 10 minutes long, are very friendly, and we encourage all instrumentalists to sign up on arrival to the University. Our auditions take place in front of a professional musician from the CBSO and/or Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, many of whom you will get to know through sectional rehearsals and tutoring later in the academic year.
For our auditions students are required to prepare a piece no more than 5 minutes in length – an accompanist is not necessary. When you sign up, you will also be asked to prepare an orchestral excerpt for the audition (sometimes drawn from repertoire we will play in one of the orchestras during the semester). All orchestral excertps can be found, in PDF form, below. Additionally, you may also be asked to do some sight reading at your audition.
Please note that students auditioning on Percussion instruments are not required to prepare a piece - only orchestral excerpts.
Students can sign-up for an instrumental audition during Welcome Week by emailing the University Music & Concerts Team directly at email@example.com.
On the day, please arrive at your specified audition location 10-15 minutes before your audition to complete some paperwork and to be allocated to a warm-up room. Members of the Music Society committee will be there to help you.
After the auditions, ensemble allocations are confirmed by email by the University Music & Concerts team. Please note that if you are placed in an orchestra, rehearsals may start that evening, so please make sure to keep the rehearsal evening free. If you do not receive confirmation of your place, you have not been successful on this occasion; but do come along to one of our unauditioned ensembles or try again next time!
Auditions for Singers
Although there are no Music Society auditioned choirs, there are a variety of auditioned choir run through University Music. All auditioned choirs are centrally managed by the University Music and Concerts Team. This includes the Birmingham University Singers, University Upper Voices, University Camerata, UoB Voices, and various smaller choirs.
Allocations to all of the auditioned choral groups are completed following the same round of auditions (usually held in Week 1 of the academic year).
For all VOCAL AUDITIONS you are required to sing a prepared piece – this should be a solo song of your choice. You can sing this from the copy or from memory, but, if you do need to use the music, please remember to bring another copy for the accompanist to use. You should also be prepared to do some sight-singing, a few aural tests and some vocal exercises to help establish your range. The audition is usually only around 10 minutes long, and the panel are always delighted to see you!
Students can sign-up for a vocal audition during Welcome Week by emailing the University Music & Concerts Team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would prefer not to audition to sing, there are also two un-auditioned Chamber Choirs and the large University Chorus; however, we strongly recommend that you audition and get involved in as much singing as you can whilst at Birmingham.
Auditions for Pianists
For our PIANO AUDITIONS students should prepare a short piece (or part of a piece) from the Grade 8 or Diploma syllabus in advance. Students will also be asked to sight-read within the audition – this will either be a solo piano excerpt from an orchestral piece or a choral piece to be accompanied.
Students can sign-up for a piano audition during Welcome Week by emailing the University Music & Concerts Team directly at email@example.com.
After the auditions students will be contacted to let you know the result of your audition.
These auditions are held for pianists wishing to get involved in the society (either playing in one of our orchestras or accompanying a choir). However, if you wish to be considered to play a concerto with an orchestra, please consider the SOLOIST COMPETITION instead.
Pianists are often required for orchestral piano parts (we play at least one orchestral work with a piano part per year), as well as for accompanying both society and departmental choirs in concert and in rehearsal. Students can indicate the activities they would like to be involved in when signing up.
Pianists can also form chamber ensembles with other society members, and there is no audition required to form a group. However, if a chamber group wants to have expert tuition, take part in masterclasses, or to perform in our chamber music concerts, a group audition is required. More information is available via the Chamber Music managers.
General Audition Extracts 2023-24
JAZZ AUDITIONS are held at the start of the academic year. Please note that if you are auditioning on more than one instrument, you will need to sign up for one time slot per instrument.
At the audition you will be asked to perform TWO contrasting jazz standards, as well as a short piece of sight-reading. Students should choose from the below list, and at the audition you will be able to perform with a rhythm section provided.
We recommend that you follow the head-solo and/or trades-head structure, demonstrating improvisation. If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
All The Things You Are
Body & Soul
Central Park West
Everybody's Song But My Own
How Deep is the Ocean?
Ladies in Mercedes
On Green Dolphin St.
Take the A Train
There Will Never Be Another You
Vocalists are welcome to change the key of any of the above standards to suit their voice. If this is the case, please get in touch with email@example.com before your audition so the rhythm section are aware of the changes.
Upon auditioning, if you indicate availability for Jazz Orchestra, please note that you are also committing to the concert, the date for which will be made available before auditions. This also involves a commitment to weekly rehearsals, as every seat in the ensemble is hotly contested.
In addition to Jazz Orchestra, students auditioning are also considered for special small group opportunities and will be informed of, and allocated to, these following the audition process.
Students can sign-up for a Jazz audition during Welcome Week by emailing the University Music & Concerts Team directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are sheet music PDFs available below for all transpositions, as well as practice backing tracks to help you prepare (available on request). Some example audition performances are also available to hear.
Please note, the PDFs are in lead sheet format and you are encouraged to interpret the melodies in your own way. It is always a good idea to listen to original versions of the tunes if you do not already know them. A Spotify playlist link to some of the original tunes is also available.
Jazz Audition Extracts 2023-24
Audition Timetable (2023/24)
Instruments listed in alphabetical order
Tuesday 26 September 2023 (1400-1700)
Friday 29 September 2023 (1400-1700)
CELLOS (& Double Basses)
Thursday 28 September 2023 (0915-1315)
Friday 29 September 2023 (0915-1315)
Thursday 28 September 2022 (0900-1300)
Tuesday 26 September 2023 (1730-2030)
Monday 25 September 2023 (1200-1800)
Tuesday 26 September 2023 (1830-2130)
Wednseday 27 September 2023 (1830-2130)
Thursday 28 September 2023 (1830-2130)
OVERSPILL (& Harps)
Wednesday 27 September 2023 (1100-1800)
Monday 25 September 2023 (1100-1400)
Friday 29 September 2023 (1000-1300)
Friday 29 September 2023 (1000-1300)
Monday 25 September 2023 (1200-1530)
Thursday 28 September 2023 (1000-1300)
Friday 29 September 2023 (1000-1300)
Monday 25 September 2023 (0900-1600)
Tuesday 26 September 2023 (0900-1700)
Wednesday 27 September 2023 (0900-1700)
Thursday 28 September 2023 (0900-1700)