Christ’s College Music Society (CCMS) is one of College’s most well-established societies, and puts on a large number of concerts and events through the year, including concerts, recitals, masterclasses, Week 5 Blues jazz nights, the annual Charles Blackham Memorial recital competition, and a garden party in May Week.
We're lucky to have such an active Music Society at Christ's. Membership is free and open to all members of the College (you don't have to be studying Music).
The Music Society organises a variety of ensembles, all of which are open to students of any ability, including the unauditioned choir Christ’s Voices, the College Orchestra, Chamber Music, and Jazz.
Christ’s Voices is the college’s non-auditioned choir. You are welcome whether or not you have any singing experience, and rehearsals are always relaxed and fun. Voices performs a wide range of music, ranging from classical repertoire to musical theatre, film, pop, and more. Recent performances have included ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ from Disney’s ‘Toy Story.’ Voices also often collaborates with the college orchestra, with recent performances of selections from ‘Les Miserables’ and Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ with string orchestra.
Voices performs at the CCMS Christmas concert held in the Chapel, where the group normally performs some Christmas classics as well as carols (along with some audience participation). Voices also performs at the CCMS concert later in the year, again usually in the college chapel.
Recitals and masterclasses
Students can take part in or attend recitals through the year, and there's normally a few masterclasses with visiting musicians each year too. The Society tries to arrange events to suit a range of interests.
In the Easter term the society organises a series of fun "Squash o'clock" recitals (with squash and biscuits). Students are encouraged to come along to these short recitals to get a break during exam revision, and this initiative has been very successful.
The Christ’s College Orchestra is a non-auditioned ensemble, open to instrumentalists of all abilities from across the university. The orchestra has a wide repertoire, including, in recent years, extracts from Bizet’s Carmen Suite No.1, the Overture to Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite, as well as selections from popular film scores such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings.
The orchestra occasionally collaborates with Christ’s Voices, usually during the Christmas concert at the end of Michaelmas term. There are weekly rehearsals in the college chapel during Michaelmas and Lent terms, culminating in appearances at the CCMS concerts in the chapel at the end of term.
Christ’s Jazz is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with small jazz ensembles throughout the year. It is very relaxed, with no commitment to rehearsals, and players of any ability from across the university are welcome to join.
Jazz arranges ensembles to perform at the Christ’s Week 5 Blues nights, held in Michaelmas and Lent in the Function Room. These are always very well attended events that provide a great opportunity to relax with cocktails and music. Christ’s Jazz also provides a great platform to form ensembles to play at garden parties and May Balls during May Week.
"I have had some of my loveliest evenings in the Chapel watching my friends sing in the choir, or participating in / watching concerts and recitals."
Christ's College Choir
Christ's College Choir is a mixed voice choir. You can apply for a Choral Award once you have an offer to study at Christ's, and there are auditions held at the beginning of each new academic year too.
Choral scholars at Christ's sing in services on Thursdays and Sundays every, and attend a free formal dinner following each service they perform in. The choir goes on a three-week international tour each summer. Recent destinations include North America, Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand (the picture shows them singing at the Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore).
"When I get to choir I forget about everything outside and just focus on the music – it’s a real antidote to the manic Cambridge experience."
Female Composers Festival
The Cambridge Female Composers Festival is an annual celebration of music composed by women which runs from January to March. It was launched in 2019 by a committee including music students at Christ's. The festival includes recitals and Evensong services, comprised entirely of music composed by women, held in the Chapel at Christ's.
Laura and Claire, who both studied at Christ's, were co-chairs of the festival in its first year:
"Events like this, we hope, can quite literally change music history – both our perception of the past and the shaping of the future, in which women have and take up as many opportunities as men to compose. We want to help create a more inclusive musical world, where women and other minority groups have their voices heard and respected. We warmly invite you to engage with this festival in any way you can" - Laura and Claire
"It was great to hear some fantastic music that has been ignored until quite recently."
Plenty of students also get involved in university music groups and societies. If you want to get involved in any of the university-wide music, the easiest thing to do is to go and talk to students at the relevant stand at the University Freshers' Fair, which takes place in the first week. There are lots of opportunities. Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS) is the university-wide equivalent of Christ's College Music Society (CCMS), and organises a number of ensembles at university level, but there are many other groups too. The following list is not comprehensive but gives you a taste of the range of music students can get involved in:
- Cambridge University Brass Band
- Cambridge University Baroque Ensemble
- Cambridge University Ceilidh Band
- Cambridge University Chamber Choir
- Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra
- Cambridge University Chinese Orchestra
- Cambridge University Concert Band
- Cambridge University Flute Choir
- Cambridge University Folk Society
- Cambridge University Gamelan Society
- Cambridge University Gilbert and Sullivan Society
- Cambridge University Gospel Choir
- Cambridge University Hip Hop Collective
- Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra
- Cambridge University K-Pop Society (Korean pop)
- Cambridge University VetMed Music Society
- Cambridge University Musical Theatre
- Cambridge University New Music Group
- Cambridge University Opera
- Cambridge University Orchestra
- Cambridge University Outreach Choir
- Cambridge University Percussion Ensemble
- Cambridge University Philharmonic Orchestra
- Cambridge University Recorder Ensemble
- Cambridge University Samulnori (Korean percussion)
- Cambridge University Sea Shanty Society
- Cambridge University Show Choir
- Cambridge University Sinfonia
- Cambridge University Steelpan Society
- Cambridge University String Ensemble
- Cambridge University Symphony Chorus
- Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra
- Cambridge University Techno Society
- Cambridge University Trombone Ensemble
- Cambridge University Wind Orchestra
- Cadenza (close harmony a capella group)
- Notorious (all female a capella group)
- Vox Cantab (fundraising)
- Wren choir (vacation choir for those in Cambridge out of term)