Ensembles and choirs

Ensemble & Choir

Ensembles rehearsal typically occur once per week (unless otherwise stated) for various lengths of time. The fee payable for most ensemble/choir participation is $124.00 per 9 week term (inclusive of GST).  See enrolment information and term dates.

See below for the ensembles and choirs options listed alphabetically:


Arts Orchestra

Wednesdays 7:00pm - 9:30pm

Led by Lesa Scully this ensemble is for players above the age of 16 and who have reached an approximate standard of grade 6 or equivalent. The Conservatorium Arts Orchestra rehearse and perform a wide variety of musical styles. These styles include traditional and non-traditional wind symphonic music and contemporary music.  If you play the piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, soprano/alto/tenor/baritone sax, french horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, euphonium, drum kit or percussion (tuned or untuned), then this group is for you. To be part of the ensemble, you must have previous large ensemble experience. For more information, please contact the conservatorium.

BrainWaves Stroke Survivors Choir

Saturdays 11:30am - 1:30pm -- Free of charge

BrainWaves is a choir for people who have survived a stroke and their partners or carers. It was started as an initiative of Hunter New England Health’s Community Stroke Team and became the basis of Bernadette Matthias’ PhD research project into stroke recovery with her background in both speech pathology and music a professional singer and choir director. The choir is currently being led by Stephanie Tuyl, an alumnus of the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music. Stephanie holds a Bachelor in Music/Arts and is currently studying a Masters of Music Therapy. She has  been a member of choirs for many years  as well as having performed professionally around the world.

The Brainwaves choir was first established – in 2 groups – in early 2012 as a research research project supported by the National Stroke Foundation. After baseline assessments of well-being, quality of life, depression, social participation and communication, Group A participated in 12 weeks of 2-hour choir rehearsals. Following further assessment for all, Group B received the same. The first choir performed publicly in December 2012 and the second in June 2013. A combined public performance was held at the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music in December 2013. The choir also enjoyed national exposure on SBS TV’s Insight program (September 2013). Insight: Strokes. While the results of the study are yet to be published, choir members and their carers have reported benefits in communication skills, socialisation, mood and wellbeing.

In 2014 BrainWaves was established as one of the Community Choirs of the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music with the assistance of private donor, Jennie Thomas. It has grown into a talented and inspiring group where warm friendships and fun are as important as the music that is made. The Conservatorium BrainWaves Stroke Choir operates under the patronage of the Stroke Recovery Association.

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/brainwaveschoir

Donations to help ensure the future of the BrainWaves choir are welcome through the University of Newcastle Office of Alumni and Philanthropy. Phone: (02) 4985 4297

There is no fee to attend.

Callaghan Singers

Tuesdays 5:30pm - 7:30pm

The Callaghan singers provide a fun and social environment in which people can develop their singing, harmonisation and musical skills. The choir is open to enthusiastic singers of all ages from the community as well as students and staff of the University. Members enjoy singing a variety of styles from madrigals to pop music ensuring that rehearsals are both fun and informal. Performances include singing at community events whenever the opportunity arises. Although you don't need to be able to read music a sense of fun and a willingness to learn are essential.

Community Strings

Tuesdays 4:00pm - 5:30pm

Conservatorium Strings is an ensemble based program for school children, offering musical opportuinites to string students. Entry into the Conservatorium Strings is by audition and students are placed into one of the four string ensembles depending on their ability.

Flute Choir

Tuesdays 6:00pm - 7:00pm

If you play the flute and have reached the level of grade 6 or equivalent, why not consider the Conservatorium Flute Choir? You will play challenging repertoire, develop ensemble techniques, perform at the Con and in the community , and form friendships with like-minded people from school age to retirees.

Intermediate String Ensemble

Tuesdays 4:00pm - 5.30pm

This orchestra offers the next stage in string orchestra playing. For Grades 3-6, players are introduced to more advanced aspects of ensemble playing and the repertoire includes a range of colourful pieces for string orchestra. Students must be Year 6 or above to be eligible for this orchestra.

Junior String Ensemble

Tuesdays 4:00pm - 5.30pm

This ensemble offers training in the rudiments of ensemble playing and musicianship and is open to primary school children up to and including Year 6 and covers Grades 1 - 3.

Percussion Ensemble

Wednesdays 4:15pm - 5:15pm

The Conservatorium Percussion Ensemble nurtures percussionist's performance skills through a variety of small ensemble works. Members are required to have a fundamental rhythmical understanding of either tuned or un-tuned percussion instruments. Percussionists who specialise in un-tuned percussion (drum kit) are highly encouraged to consider this group. Rehearsals are musically rewarding and enjoyable, particularly for those who are interested in refining their performance and ensemble skills.

Senior String Ensemble

Tuesdays 4:00pm - 5:30pm

This ensemble is the most advanced orchestra in the Hunter Strings. Entry level is Grade 6+ depending also on orchestral experience and sight-reading ability. Students must be in Year 7 or older to be eligible for this ensemble.


Monday 5:00 - 7:00pm

The Newcastle Conservatorium “Sessions” focuses on developing musicians wishing to experience real-world performance opportunities. Singers, rhythm section & horn participants will rehearse with similar age students and explore musical expression, setlist development and live technology - in preparation for a public performance. Furthermore, sessions will be a great networking program for intermediate to semi-professional musicians.

Sessions will take place Monday evenings from 5pm in the Red Room


Friday 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Showband is a large contemporary ensemble encompassing many styles of music including Classic Big Band Swing, Soul / R&B, Funk, Latin and Pop. It is designed to feature vocalists that wish to have the opportunity to perform with a large ensemble in a variety of styles. As well as musical input, students will be coached on aspects of band leading, stagecraft and professional standards of conduct.The ensemble is open to (and requires) rhythm section members as well as horn players (saxophone, trumpet, trombone) as well as singers. Placement will be by audition.

University of Newcastle Jazz Orchestra

Mondays 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Our jazz orchestra is in the traditional big band format that explores all styles of large jazz performance from traditional to contemporary. If you play alto/tenor/baritone sax, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, piano, guitar, bass (electric or double), or drum kit you are welcome to attend an audition. To join the ensemble you must have sound instrumental playing and music reading skills. Experience with jazz styles is ideal but not essential as this will be developed as part of your ensemble experience. Improvisation skills are also highly regarded but not essential. Our jazz orchestra has developed into a genuine collective of enthusiastic musicians.

Vocal Company

Saturdays 9:00am - 11:00am 

The Vocal Company is a lively and adventurous group of singers who enjoy a wide repertoire - from Mozart to the Beatles and beyond! Aimed at the 'young at heart' (50+), Vocal Company offers a warm and welcoming environment where everyone is comfortable no matter what their musical background. You don't need to know how to read music but simply be able to hold a tune!

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.