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 throughout the year, from concerts in Michaelmas and Lent term to recitals, Week 5 Blues jazz nights, the annual Charles Blackham Memorial recital competition, and a garden party in 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 Music Society (CCMS)
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. Students are welcome whether or not they have any prior singing experience, and rehearsals are always relaxed and fun. Voices performs a wide range of songs 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 at the end of Michaelmas term. This concert generally sees Voices perform some Christmas classics as well as carols along with some audience participation. Voices also performs at the CCMS concert in Lent term, again usually in the college chapel.
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.
There are also opportunities to take part in recitals, such as the series of fun Easter term recitals (with squash and biscuits). Students are encouraged to come along to get a break during exam revision, and these have been very successful.
Christ's College Choir
Christ's College Choir is a mixed voice choir which holds auditions during the application process and at the beginning of each new year. Choral scholars sing in services on Thursdays and Sundays every, and attend a free formal dinner following each service they perform in. The choir embarks on a three-week international tour each summer - recent destinations include North America, Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand.
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."
Cambridge University Musical Society
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 CCMS, and organises various ensembles at university level. The following list gives some examples but is not comprehensive:
Cambridge University Orchestra (CUO)
The university's flagship orchestra, CUO performs around five or six concerts per year with visiting professional conductors and soloists, rehearsing intensively for a few weeks prior to each concert. Students can audition to be part of CUO at the beginning of the academic year.
Cambridge University Sinfonia (CUS)
A high quality symphonia orchestra, whose performers are selected in the same audition process as CUO, CUS performs two concerts a year. The orchestra rehearses once a week, on Thursdays, and undertakes an annual tour to Europe.
Cambridge University Wind Orchestra (CUWO)
CUWO rehearses weekly, on Tuesdays, and performs in five concerts per year, including a Varsity concert with its Oxford counterpart. The orchestra has weekly socials and termly formals, and embarks on an annual tour, recently visiting Canada and New York. Auditions for CUWO are held in the first week of Michaelmas (first) term.
Cambridge University Chamber Choir (CUCC)
CUCC gives student singers of a high standard the opportunity to perform outside of the college choral system - the choir often chooses secular rather than sacred music - focusing on three or four projects a year. Auditions take place at the start of the academic year.
Cambridge University Symphony Chorus (CUSC)
CUSC is a choir of around 120 members, which rehearses weekly on Thursday evenings in term time in St Paul’s Church, Hills Road. The choir welcomes a guest conductor for one of the three terms in each academic year, and undertakes an annual tour to Europe. Auditions are held in early October.
Cambridge University Percussion Ensemble (CUPE)
CUPE is a relatively new ensemble, which rehearses roughly once every two weeks, and has performed at events including the Cambridge Union Society Garden Party.
Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra (CUJO)
CUJO is the university's flagship jazz ensemble and big band, which perform throughout the year, often with their counterparts from other universities.