Ensemble and choir information

Ensemble & Choir Fees

Ensembles rehearsals occur once per week 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:


Adult Cello Choir

Join with other cellists and have fun playing in an ensemble. This group welcomes all late-starters as well as those who perhaps haven't played in a while and would like to brush the dust off their cello. Rehearsals will be held 4 times each term. Click here for more details.

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. Bernadette has a background in speech pathology as well as music – a professional singer and choir director. The BrainWaves research has been supported by the National Stroke Foundation.

The choir was established – in 2 groups – in early 2012. 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.

With the assistance of private donor, Jennie Thomas, BrainWaves was established in 2014 as one of the Community Choirs of the University of Newcastle’s Conservatorium of Music. 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.

Director: Bernadette Matthias

Email:         Bernadette.Matthias@newcastle.edu.au
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.

Castle Big Band

Monday 7:00 - 8:30pm

The Castle Big Band is a youth ensemble designed to introduce high school aged musicians to the elements that make a professional artist. Students work on repertoire from swing to contemporary jazz and are challenged with music that they would normally be expected to play in a professional setting. Each rehearsal is augmented by lessons in topics such as improvisation, sight reading and stagecraft to name a few. Auditions are held annually for the Castle Big Band at the end of Term Three.

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.

Concert Band

Wednesdays 5:00pm - 6:30pm

For players aged 11 to 19 who have been learning for at least two years or have reached a standard of grade four. The Concert Band repertoire covers many different styles of music ranging from original wind band repertoire through to popular and jazz pieces especially arranged for this type of ensemble.

Contemporary Guitar Ensemble

Wednesdays 6:00pm - 7:00pm

This ensemble is for guitarists of all types to enjoy ensemble playing. The class encourages you to come along and "jam" with fellow guitarists. It is essential that you bring with you your portable amp and guitar.

Flute Choir

Tuesdays 7:00pm - 8:30pm

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. Approximate minimum entry level is grade 3. 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 Concert Band

Wednesdays 5:00pm - 6:30pm

For children between 8 and 14 years of age who have been learning for at least 18 months. Beginner Concert Band performs regularly and also competes in local contests.

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. Entry to this ensemble is by audition.

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.

Saxophone Ensemble

Thursdays 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Do you have an interest in saxophone? Do you want to improve your playing? Open to all ages, the Saxophone Ensemble helps develop all musical abilities. Led by Shane Landry, BMus, MMus(Perf), you will perform repertoire that will explore various genres of music in repertoire that is fun and challenging, taking your saxophone playing to a new level.

Senior String Ensemble

Tuesdays 4:00pm - 5:30pm

This ensemble is the most advanced orchestra in the Hunter Strings. Approximate 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.


Wednesdays 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.

Showband rehearses during University semester dates, not Conservatorium terms. Members who are not University students are charged $172.50 (inc. GST) per semester (13 weeks).


Wednesdays 5:30pm - 6:30pm

In this contemporary singing ensemble, high school aged students will benefit from tuition in vocal technique, harmony, movement, microphone technique and performance. Contact us to arrange an audition to join.

University of Newcastle Arts Orchestra

Wednesdays 7:00pm - 9:30pm

For players above the age of 16 and who have reached an approximate standard of grade 6 or equivalent.  Membership is 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.

The Jazz Orchestra rehearses during University semester dates, not Conservatorium terms. Members who are not University students are charged $172.50 (inc. GST) per semester (13 weeks).

University of Newcastle Orchestra

Tuesday 6:00pm - 8:00pm

University of Newcastle Orchestra provides performing opportunities for orchestral musicians in the Hunter Region. Be part of an orchestral community of mentors, students, enthusiasts and internationally acclaimed music staff from the Conservatorium of Music, Newcastle. For players 16 and over.

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!