Cambridge University Sinfonia (CUS)


Cambridge University Sinfonia is a high-quality symphony orchestra, drawn from top student instrumentalists in Cambridge. The Sinfonia performs a wide range of repertoire under its student Conducting Scholar and a range of prestigious guest conductors, which have recently included John Wilson, Sian Edwards, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Richard Armstrong and Libor Pesek. With each project, CUS members receive coaching from professional orchestral musicians.

Cambridge University Sinfonia perform four concerts per year: two in Michaelmas term, one in Lent term and a May Week Concert at the end of the year. CUS have also enjoyed highly successful tours over the past three years, and are looking forward to travelling to Prague in July 2017 (see the ‘Tours’ tab for more details).

A word from Carlos Rodriguez, CUS President 2018-19:

Being a part of the Cambridge University Sinfonia is exciting and musically stimulating, made all the more enjoyable by the friendly and dedicated nature of our orchestra. Our 2017/18 season was a fantastic success, with items ranging from our thrilling collaboration with Natalia Luis-Bassa to the end-of-year tranquillity of Brahms’ Ein deutches Requiem in the chapel of King’s College. This is not to mention the hugely talented soloists who joined us to make wonderful music last year…

But this new season promises more! Our 2018/19 programme will be quite the kaleidoscope of orchestral music, with a focus on the music of Russian composers. We will have the opportunity to work with musicians such as Holly Mathieson, Ryan Wigglesworth and Sir John Tomlinson; along with our finest student musicians, including our conducting scholars and the winner of last year’s CUMS concerto competition. We will also join forces with our friends at the Cambridge University Orchestra for a performance of Britten’s War Requiem in the Lent term.

The benefits of joining our orchestra, of course, are not just limited to the quality of the final concert. During our rehearsal period, we are coached by accomplished professional instrumentalists, and membership of the orchestra also means strong friendships between musicians, which we celebrate in our various social events.

I greatly look forward to welcoming you to our new season, and I encourage those interested in joining us to find us at the Freshers’ Fair and sign up for an audition!


2018-2019 Programme

Saturday 27 October: Holly Mathieson conducts a Russian concert of Ustvolskaya, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev

Friday 30 November: Stephanie Childress (CUMS Assistant Conducting Scholar) conducts Prokoviev and Brahms, featuring Andreas Wildner, piano (CUMS Concerto Competition 2018 prize-winner)

Saturday 19 January: Britten War Requiem in King’s College Chapel with CUO

Saturday 9 March: Brahms Piano Concert No.1 featuring Yuanfan Yang and Shostakovich Symphony No.1 conducted by Toby Hession (CUMS Conducting Scholar)

Saturday 15 June: Mussorgsky and Stravinsky conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, featuring Sir John Tomlinson


Recent conductors, soloists and coaches


Sir Roger Norrington, Sian Edwards, John Wilson, David Hill, Sir Richard Armstrong, Libor Pesek, Martin Yates, Jamie Phillips, Carlos Izcary, Rory Macdonald

Peter Donohoe, piano; Oliver Coates, cello; Kristine Balanas, violin; Sergey Levitin, violin; Virginie Robilliard violin; Fiachra Garvey, piano

Charles Mutter, leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra
Simon Channing, head of woodwind at Royal College of Music
David McCallum, trumpeter in BBC Concert Orchestra
Keith Bragg, head of woodwind at Royal Academy of Music

For more information about the Sinfonia please contact Rachel Becker at

CUMS Orchestras Rehearsal Schedules 2018-9


2018-19 CUS Concert Programme

John Tothill conducts, December 2016

Saturday 27 October 2018, 8pm
Galina Ustvolskaya Poem No.1
Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1
Prokofiev Cinderella Suites (excerpts)
Holly Mathieson conductor
James Jones violin (CUMS Concerto Competition 2018 prize-winner)

Friday 30 November 2018, 8pm
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.3
Brahms Symphony No.2
Stephanie Childress conductor
Andreas Wildner piano (CUMS Concerto Competition 2018 prize-winner)


Saturday 19 January 2019, 8.00 pm
Britten War Requiem in King’s College Chapel
Graham Ross conductor
with CUO


Saturday 9 March 2018, 8pm
Michael Boyle New Work (CUMS Composer in Residence 2018-9) (World Première)
Brahms Piano Concerto No.1
Shostakovich Symphony No.1
Toby Hession conductor (CUMS Conducting Scholar 2018-9)
Yuanfan Yang piano


Saturday 15 June 2018, 8pm
Mussorgsky arr. Rimsky-Korsakov Night on Bald Mountain
Mussorgsky selections from Boris Godunov
Stravinsky/Bach Chorale Variations on “Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her”
Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms
with the Cambridge University Symphony Chorus
Ryan Wigglesworth, Toby Hession conductors
Sir John Tomlinson bass

Concert Archive

A note on CUMS Symphony Orchestra
In 2017, the CUMS ensembles were restructured (for more details please see the Ensembles introduction). Previously, the Society had three orchestras: Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, CUMS Symphony Orchestra and CUMS Concert Orchestra. The Society now forms just two orchestras from the same body of players: Cambridge University Orchestra and Cambridge University Sinfonia. The Sinfonia performs the same number of concerts as CUMS Symphony Orchestra previously did and is largely made up of CUMS Symphony Orchestra players, but it is a more flexible ensemble. This enables some players to move between CUO and CUS throughout the year depending on the repertoire which is being performed.


Social Media
Find Cambridge University Sinfonia on Facebook and Twitter!

Interviews and blog posts
“What a splendid time I had with CUMS in May Week! The Chorus was superb; the Orchestra excellent and so open to new ideas. These are groups which have evidently got steadily better over the years I have been away! Any undergraduate would be lucky to sing or play in them. There’s something really thrilling about being part of a large group making music well, as they do. I greatly look forward to the next time I can join them” Sir Roger Norrington, July 2010

Blog post: President Sacha Lee talks about why the orchestra has become such an important part of her Cambridge experience.

Interview: Social Secretary Jeremy Judge describes life as part of the orchestra.

Read about the orchestra’s involvement in the Icarus project.


Listen to recordings of the CUMS ensembles

We are very pleased to share clips of the recording of the Symphony Orchestra concert, with conductor Carlos Izcaray and violinist Virginie Robilliard which took place in West Road Concert Hall on 8 March 2014. The recording was by Black Swan Productions and we are grateful to Carlos Izcaray for giving us permission to show these clips.


Tour 2018: Tuscany

This July, the CUMS orchestras united for a five-day tour of Tuscany. We played three concerts to rave reviews – after our first concert in Montecatini Terme, several audience members drove to the nearby town of Pescia the next evening to hear us perform again! And in Pescia we were also welcomed with open arms by a standing-room-only audience and the mayor, as well as a late-night pizza party. The tour culminated in a performance at the prestigious 43rd Cantiere internazionale d’arte in Montepulciano. Huge thanks to our conductor, Naomi Woo, for such a fabulous musical experience! Alongside our concerts, we were able to experience the breath-taking art and architecture of Lucca and Florence, to take a dip in the Mediterranean, and of course to enjoy plenty of wine, pasta, and gelato.

The orchestra rehearses Dvořák’s Symphonic Variations in Montecatini Terme

Tour 2016: The Rhineland
In July 2016, CUMS Symphony Orchestra set off for Germany, where they gave three outstanding concerts under the baton of Joel Sandelson. The orchestra performed an all-Russian programme including Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2 to large audiences in Cologne, Andernach and Bonn. Performing in the impressive Bonn University Hall was a particular highlight. Outside of the busy concert schedule, there was time for a number of leisure activities: climbing up Cologne Cathedral, watching the famous Andernach cold water geyser, visiting Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn and, of course, sampling the German beer!

Helen McKeown, Tour Manager
















Tour 2015: Amsterdam
CUMS SO spent five days in Amsterdam, where they performed Elgar’s ‘In the South’ and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, conducted by Joel Sandelson. One of the concerts was broadcast live on local television.


Tour 2014: Ghent
CUMS SO performed Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Ginastera’s Estancia Suite in Ghent, as part of the Gentse Feesten.


Cambridge University Sinfonia Committee 2018-19


Each CUMS ensemble has its own student committee, which runs the ensemble’s rehearsals, concerts and social events. They are supported by the Concerts and Marketing Assistant (a graduate role), the Performance Assistant (a joint role with the Faculty of Music) and the Executive Director. If you would like to get in touch or have a suggestion about the ensemble, the Ensemble President is a good place to start. For more information on how CUMS is run, please see the Society Information page.

Carlos Rodriguez –

The rest of the student committee will be elected at the start of Michaelmas Term.

Committee 2017-18
Isaac Barkway –

Publicity Officer
Roy Navid –

Social Secretary

Sofia Greaves –

Social Media Officer

Lizzie Nightingale –


CUMS staff
Concerts and Marketing Assistant
Rachel Becker –

Performance Assistant
Katharine Ambrose –

CUMS Executive Director
Chloe Davidson –

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I perform with Cambridge University Sinfonia?
If you wish to be considered for a place in CUS, you must audition. CUMS Auditions take place at the start of each academic year, during Freshers’ Week. All members of the previous year’s orchestra must re-audition along with the new players. For more information about auditions, including how to sign up, please see here.

How are CUS places allocated?
CUS is a flexible ensemble which works in conjunction with Cambridge University Orchestra (CUO). When you audition for CUMS, if successful, you will be offered places in a number of concerts for the entire Season. Some players move between CUO and CUS throughout the year, some play in CUS for the whole year and some join CUS for one concert per term.

Following your CUMS audition, if successful, you will most likely be offered one of the following options:

1. A place in all CUO concerts for the year (both chamber and symphonic – October 2018, November 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019, May 2019).
2. A place in all or most CUO symphonic repertoire concerts (November 2018, January 2018 and February 2018), and a place in CUS when you are not performing with CUO (most likely, October 2018 and June 2018 – with a professional conductor and ‘intense’ rehearsal schedule).
3. A place in all CUS concerts for the year (October 2018, November 2018, March 2019 and June 2019).
4. A place in two CUS concerts (most likely, November 2018 and March 2019 – with a student conductor and a more spread-out rehearsal schedule).

To view the 2017-18 rehearsal schedules for both orchestras, see here.

Please note that there may be exceptions to these options for some instruments, depending on orchestration. Your concert commitments for the year will be made very clear following your audition.



Registered Charity No. 1149534

Cambridge University Musical Society
West Road Concert Hall
11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Principal Guest Conductor
Sir Roger Norrington CBE
CUMS Conductor Laureate
Stephen Cleobury CBE
Director, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
Martin Ennis
Artistic Advisor
Sian Edwards
Associate Directors, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
David Lowe, Nicholas Mulroy