University of Birmingham: University Music highlights in 2021/22

After a phased return for students to Birmingham across 2021, student musicians returned with a sold-out concert in November at St George’s Church in Edgbaston, showcasing talented musicians from our range of instrumental choirs in the Music Society. From there, University Music moved into 2022 with a variety of exciting concerts across the city.

Starting in February, the University Brass Band went to the annual UniBrass competition in Sheffield and came home with a strong sixth place finish, while the University Wind Band enjoyed a year performing world premieres and works by alumni, Jessica Bowen, as well as showcasing their music in a joint concert with the University of Nottingham’s BlowSoc at the Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham.

Orchestral performance remained at the heart of the return to music-making, with both Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras performing large works and symphonies in Birmingham Town Hall (as part of the University Music “A Musical Heritage” offer) and Elgar Concert Hall, as well as exposing hidden local composer, Lilian Elkington. There were also performances by our two Music Society Soloist Competition winners, Eloise Yates (Trumpet) and Ioannis Emmanouilidis (Cello).

Birmingham town hall performance
The University Jazz Orchestra had a full year, performing new commissions by Olivia Murphy (as part of celebrations marking the opening of The Exchange), collaborating with Tom Ford, and performing with Sara Colman. They were also part of the summer ‘Jazz Festival’ in Digbeth, which marked the conclusion of the residency of jazz-rock band, Young Pilgrims, who worked with students and society members in workshops across the second semester.

Finally, choral music continued to grow in numbers and quality on campus, with world premiere performances by Birmingham University Singers of music by Bob Chilcott, the annual University Carol Service given by University Upper Voices, and a critically acclaimed performance and recording for University of Birmingham Voices of Stanford’s Requiem with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins in Symphony Hall. 2022 also marked the introduction of the University Commonwealth Choir, who performed as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival to appreciative audiences.

University Music provides the University of Birmingham with one of the liveliest music-making scenes of any campus. With around 1500 positions available in our 35-plus ensembles, members participate in a variety of instrumental and vocal groups, across a range of abilities and styles. University Music is open to students, staff, and the local community, and provides participants with opportunities for professional coaching, exceptional concerts, as well as the chance to apply for yearly scholarships.