Welcome to our new Youtube Channel!

Welcome to our new Cambridge University Musical Society Youtube Channel, where you can be the first to watch concerts in our isolation series. The last two are available already, and the next one will broadcast at 7 pm on 14 May.

CUMS Student President 2020-21 & CULCS applications open

Applications to be the next CUMS Student President for the 2020-21 season are still open, as are applications for the role of President of the Cambridge University Lunchtime Concert Series & other committee positions.
Full details for all roles can be found below. Please note the deadline is 8 May at 1700.

Student President Application Poster 2020

CULC Poster advert 2020-21
CULC 2020-21 committee roles

Leo Appel & Kevin Loh

Last term Leo and Kevin were announced as joint winners of the CUMS Concerto Competition 2020-21, giving them the opportunity to perform with the University Orchestra next season. In the meantime, catch up on Kevin’s Online Lunchtime Recital for St John’s College Music Society here.

©Singapore Symphony Orchestra

Leo and his family have curated a Wednesday afternoon concert series An afternoon withe Appels, giving concerts from their home every Wednesday at 3 pm. Their previous concerts are available to stream on Facebook, and the next concert (6 May) will be posted in the same place.

Easter Term 2020 Concerts

We are deeply saddened to announce that in light of the ever-changing international health situation, many of our Easter Term concerts will not be going ahead. Our Cambridge University Orchestra concert on Saturday 2 May, Cambridge University Wind and Jazz Orchestras concert on Tuesday 12 May, and Cambridge University Symphony Chorus concert on Saturday 13 June have all been cancelled. We hope to include much of the repertoire from these concerts in our upcoming 2020-21 season. We have also cancelled our Easter Term Lunchtime Concert Series. Updates on our next season will be released once more information is available. 

If you have already purchased a ticket for one of our concerts please consider donating the cost of your ticket to CUMS or joining our Supporters’ Circle  – every bit of support will help sustain us at this difficult time. Many thanks for your continued support to Cambridge University Musical Society, and in the meantime please stay safe and well.
Student tickets to these concerts would have cost up to £5, and full-price tickets up to £20. If you felt that you were able to make a donation of a similar amount, CUMS would be extremely grateful. We are, of course, thankful for any support you are able to offer at this time.

The Visions of Elizabeth Barton: a feminist view of a forgotten anti-Reformation mystic.

By Benjamin Graves (Darwin College PhD candidate and CUMS Composer-in-Residence 2019-20)

The Visions of Elizabeth Barton was commissioned by the Park Lane Group. Its first performance was given by the Hermes Experiment (Héloïse Werner, soprano; Oliver Pashley, clarinet; Anne Denholm, harp; and Marianne Schofield, contrabass) on 16th January 2019 in the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London.

I included in the score a quote from Alan Neame’s book The Holy Maid of Kent, which perfectly sets the scene for The Visions of Elizabeth Barton:

“In January and February [1526] Kentish days are dark and the nights are long. As the candles gutter and the logs throw up their sparks, the Rector observes the Maid, and through his eyes the eyes of the Archbishop of Canterbury survey Goldwell from afar. And over all that passes at the dinner-table gazes down the all-seeing eye of Almighty God. Outside the winds moan, the ice forms, the snows fall. And inside, the Maid falls into trances and convulsions, begging men to renew their loyalty to God’s Church.”

It took a long time for me to devise a suitable text that did justice to the life of Elizabeth Barton but this paragraph suggested a solution. The “scena” is set on a cold winter’s night, at the dinner table of Thomas Cobb, to whom Barton was servant and gave her first premonitions.

Warning: the following paragraph contains mention of violent sexual acts. 

I first came across The Holy Maid of Kent in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which paints a picture of a defiant voice in opposition to Henry VIII’s Protestant Reformation. The more I researched Barton the more I realised her fate mirrored that of many women who stood up to patriarchal control.  I was reminded of Mary Beard’s London Review of Books Winter Lecture in 2014 entitled The Public Voice of Women in which she outlines the various punishments meted out to women who dared enter public debate, from Penelope silenced by her own son at the very beginning of Western literature (“‘Mother’, he says, ‘go back up to your quarters…speech will be the business of men,’”), to Beard’s own Twitter trolls today. More specifically, she discusses the nature of this silencing, from Philomela in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Lavinia in Titus Andronicus having their tongues removed by their respective rapists, to threats by those trolls such as “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it” and “you should have your tongue ripped out.” These punishments and threats mirror Barton’s own fate of being hanged and her corpse being decapitated. The aim of the piece, therefore, was to give Barton her voice back by setting her prophecies to music.

Continue from here having avoided potential triggers.

Beard further describes the act of public speaking in antiquity as being viewed as an exclusively male preserve: ‘as one ancient scientific treatise explicitly put it, a low-pitched voice indicated manly courage, a high-pitched voice female cowardice.’ So, Barton – as indeed were all notable medieval and renaissance mystics – was required to ‘man-up’ her voice to be heard. God was speaking, not Barton.

The soprano’s music, therefore, aims to allow Barton her own voice. Her vocal lines are signified “dolce”, modal in character and mellifluous, with extended melisma and ornamentation.

Opening line of Vision I from The Visions of Elizabeth Barton
Opening line of Vision II from The Visions of Elizabeth Barton

It is the ensemble’s music which expresses the turmoil of her visions and is best described by Thomas Cranmer:

“[God’s] voice, when it told any thing of the joys of Heaven, it spake so sweetly and so heavenly that every man was ravished with the hearing thereof; and contrary, when it told any thing of Hell, it spake so horribly and terribly that it put the hearers in great fear.”

Vision I speaks “sweetly and so heavenly” with combinations of clarinet multiphonics, contrabass natural harmonics high up in its range and a flowing harp accompaniment culminating in harmonics. The clash in quartertones only enhances the colour of the passage.

Bars 15 and 16 (Vision I) of The Visions of Elizabeth Barton

To suggest a feeling of the divine, the clarinet and contrabass in Vision I play an augmented chorale, the harmony evoking a cadence onto a major triad.

Chorale harmony from bars 10 to 20 (Vision I) of The Visions of Elizabeth Barton

Vision II speaks “horribly and terribly”, employing the clattering sounds of clarinet slap tongues and staccato tonguing on false fingerings, harp heavily prepared with thick layers of blu-tac on its strings, plucking using a thumb-pick and its pedals set in clusters, and contrabass ricochet. The ensemble sound is muddied by close double stops and glissandos in the contrabass’ lowest range.

Bars 53 and 54 (Vision II) of The Visions of Elizabeth Barton

This vision concerns itself less with harmony than with gesture and the rise and fall of waves of sounds.

Wave gestures from bars 47 and 52 (Vision II) of The Visions of Elizabeth Barton

The notes chosen are loosely based on the resulting interval of the clarinet’s downward glissandos. The top line of the example 27 is the extent of the glissando, the first being a major second. The second line is the harp, which expands this interval, in the first instance by one step, to a minor third and adds a seventh. The contrabass on the bottom line expands this still further, to a major third and adds to this, two sevenths. Any deviation from this pattern is a result of the harp’s pedal settings, so the nearest note was chosen.

I hope with this piece I have produced a suitable account of a highly important and interesting, but unfortunately silenced figure in British Tudor history.

The University of Cambridge New Music Group performs The Visions of Elizabeth Barton, along with works by Grisey, Kaija Saariaho, John Luther Adams, Darren Bloom and students of the University of Cambridge. 31 January 2020 at 730pm; in the Museum of Zoology, Downing Street. Click here for tickets.

CUWO On Tour!

CUWO Tour Amsterdam 2019 Blog

Monday 1stJuly

On Monday 1stJuly, members of CUWO arrived bright and early in Cambridge to kick off the 2019 tour to Amsterdam. We assembled in Robinson Chapel to rehearse and refresh our memories of the pieces we had played throughout out the year. The programme comprised Jazz Suite No. 2 (Shostakovich), a Disney medley, East Coast Pictures (Nigel Hess) Short Ride in a Fast Machine (Adams), Suite in F (Holst) and Hoedown (Copland). We also revived the fabulous and fun Danzon No. 2 (Marquez) from our 2017-18 repertoire. After a promising rehearsal, we loaded up the coach around lunch time. Squeezing all the percussion, instruments and luggage into the coach and trailer we set off for Amsterdam.

With a smooth coach and ferry journey, we arrived in Amsterdam late on Monday night. At this point, many decided to have an early night to recuperate ready for the rest of the week, whilst others went in search of some tasty food before turning in for the night. 

Tuesday 2ndJuly

Tuesday was our first full day in Amsterdam. We spent the day rehearsing in a small theatre about a 30-minute walk from the hostel, allowing members to enjoy a scenic walk along the canals to introduce them to the city. Although the rehearsal was long and intensive, it definitely made a difference to our playing after having a break for exams, and giving further chance to rehearse the deps (who made up around one fifth of the orchestra – with many past players returning!). After the rehearsal, the managers had organized a bowling session followed by a pizza group dinner. This was a great way to integrate deps and catch up with friends, as well as to relax after the rehearsal with food and drinks. 

After bowling many explored the evening sights of Amsterdam, including some bars along the canal in addition to catching the tail-end of the England-USA Football World Cup match. 

Wednesday 3rdJuly

On Wednesday, we had our first free morning in Amsterdam. Several people took this opportunity to have a bit of a lie-in after the long rehearsal the day before, while some of CUWO decided to take advantage of the hostel’s excellent central location and go for a 7.30am run alongside the beautiful canals twisting through the city. After another good hostel breakfast, the orchestra set off in groups to explore the capital. Some went immediately to the Rijksmuseum, while others just wandered through the city, enjoying copious amounts of ice cream and waffles. 

After lunch, we departed south for the town of Delft, which is situated just east of The Hague. We had a few hours to do some sightseeing – a highlight of which was climbing the 350ft tower of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) – and then we had an incredible tapas dinner at Tapas & Mezzes. This was delicious, with no less than twenty separate dishes, including ones specially prepared for the vegetarian and vegan members of the group. In the evening, we performed in a joint concert with Royal Wind Orchestra Delft in the charming Beestenmarkt (Market Square). Both orchestras were very well received by the Delft residents, who were relaxing in chairs and bars around the square; it was great to experience a different style of wind band playing. Special mention goes to the percussion and the other setting-up volunteers for unpacking and repacking the percussion trailer in record time!

Thursday 4thJuly

Thursday began with an insightful and moving visit to one of Amsterdam’s most renowned museums; the Anne Frank House. It was a group activity kindly organised by Olivia and Richard in advance, meaning there was no stressing about tickets and no long queues. Splitting then into groups, further activities included taking a two-hour-long boat trip along the city’s famous canals, which turned out to be a perfect way to see a huge amount of the city without having to walk around! 

In the evening, we played our second concert of the tour, this time in Amsterdam’s Oosterkerk, about a half-hour walk from the hostel. The slight delay of the bus’ arrival treated us to some delightful performances from our orchestra’s members, of which a personal favourite was Toby [clarinet] serenading Ed [conductor] with an interesting rendition of Mamma Mia. The concert was well received to say the least, and we were met with a standing ovation! It was an excellent opportunity to play in one of the Netherland’s beautiful churches.

The day ended with a whole orchestral trip to the supermarket to stock up on essentials (crisps, Tony’s Chocolonely’s and stroop-waffles), before our last full day in the Netherlands!

Friday 5thJuly

On the Friday, members took the opportunity to enjoy our last free morning in Amsterdam. Destinations included the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, a trip to the beach, as well as the social secs sorting prizes and presents for later! In the afternoon, we took a short coach ride to the beautiful city of Haarlem, just on the outskirts of Amsterdam. 

We enjoyed dinner and drinks around the beautiful squares, before we headed to our rather unusual location of an abandoned prison to play our final concert. We were welcomed by the committee arranging the ‘Night of the Choirs’, part of the unique Koorbiennale festival (the only choir festival in the world). The Night of the Choirs involves members of the public cycling to various secret concert locations in pelotons, and CUWO (playing in their dashing stash) were effectively a warm-up act for this as ticket holders gathered before they departed. The audience was incredibly warm, and even conga-lining their way out of the arena! As part of this, we were lucky enough to be let into the old panopticon prison – a spooky yet fascinating experience, the abandoned property is soon to be turned into a university! 

After this, we headed on the coach home where tour awards and presents for the committee and conductor were handed out by our social secs, before we spent the rest of the night in the bar (with a plentiful supply of drinks bought by the managers) and hostel club to celebrate the end of the week! This was before we had to be rudely awakened very early the next day (for those of us who went to sleep at all), all very tired, to take the coach back to Cambridge via Calais. 

It was a week much enjoyed by all, and we look forward to seeing what next year’s committee has in store! Huge thanks go to Olivia Dodd and Richard Moulange for masterminding the whole tour without the help of a tour company, and Robin Otter (last year’s manager) for being an astute treasurer. It was a definite success!

Blog by Alex Hunt, Bridget Morris, Emma Macrae, Richard Moulange and Olivia Dodd

CUMS Conducting Scholar Toby Hession on Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony

On Saturday 4 May Robert Cohen directs Cambridge University Orchestra in Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, ‘Jupiter’. Tickets available here

Toby Hession writes of addiction, tragedy and the sublime in his programme note for the ‘Jupiter’ symphony:

It is remarkable that, given Mozart’s inestimable status among the very ‘greatest’ composers of the canon, there are so many questions about his life and work that remain unanswered. Almost nothing is known of the composition of Mozart’s forty-first (and final) symphony – a situation that is symptomatic of modern Mozart scholarship’s increasing tendency to define itself by the things that it does not know, rather than what it can say with certainty. 

One such unknown is why, by 1788, Mozart had lost much of the popularity he had at one time enjoyed with his Viennese audiences. Mozart’s personal life at this time was certainly in turmoil – not only did he and his wife, Costanze, lose three of their children between 1786-88, but financially they were struggling too, their lavish lifestyle gradually proving to cost well beyond their means. Mozart secured the position of “Kammer-Kompositeur” at the Imperial Court, but the very modest salary did little to alleviate the family’s hardship; successes in Prague with Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro were not taken for granted, but they did little to help the struggling Mozarts back at home.

Wolfgang also developed a serious (and expensive) gambling addiction, possibly as a result of the personal tragedy he was experiencing at home, damaging his once-resplendent public image. It is also well-documented that Costanze did not have the wherewithal to responsibly manage the household while Wolfgang burned most of the family income. Almost certainly in the spirit of admission to serious financial misjudgment, Wolfgang wrote several times over the summer of 1788 to Michael Puchberg, a friend and Freemason (like himself), pleading for significant sums of money. One such request (worth “a hundred gulden”) was to last for one week, to see Mozart through to the start of his “Casino concerts”. It is not known where or what the ‘Casino’ was, but it known that a number of Mozart’s Piano Concerti had been performed there – and given that Mozart was working on a trio of symphonies at the time of writing to Puchberg (which would turn out to be his last, and of which the ‘Jupiter’ would be the ultimate), it had been assumed that they too were to be performed at the same venue.  

It has long been believed that Mozart never heard any of these three symphonies performed during his lifetime (on account of the absence of any documentation pertaining to such performances). However, in recent years this view has been challenged – partly due to the discovery of the Puchberg correspondence – several potential opportunities for performance have been identified, both in Vienna and in Germany. It has been argued by several individuals, including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, that the three final symphonies (Nos. 39 – 41) were conceived as a large, unified work, citing in particular the fact that No. 41 has no introduction (unlike No. 39) but instead has a finale of significantly more epic proportions than either of its companions. Whether or not this is true, the final symphony quickly earned a reputation for being one of the greatest symphonies of its age. Even by the end of the nineteenth-century, more than a century after Mozart’s death, it retained its place, with Johannes Brahms claiming that the last three symphonies by Mozart were “much more important” even than Ludwig van Beethoven’s ground-breaking first Symphony.

Equally open to contention is the origin of the popular nickname for the final symphony, ‘Jupiter’. One theory (supported by Mozart’s son, Franz) attributes it to Johann Peter Salomon, the English impresario responsible perhaps most famously for his musically prosperous friendship with Joseph Haydn, bringing him to London in 1791-92 and 1794-95. Salomon died in 1815 – yet, the earliest documented use of the ‘Jupiter’ nickname does not appear until at least 1817 (possibly later), casting doubt on this theory. In fact, the finale of the ‘Jupiter’ is considered to be a re-working of the opening movement of Carl Ditter’s (1739-1799) Symphony in D, Der Sturz Phaëton (The Fall of Phaëton) – Phaëton being the Greek name for the same planet that the Romans referred to as ‘Jupiter’. It has been suggested that this may more plausibly account for the origins of the nickname.

In terms of its music, the final symphony stands as one of Mozart’s most triumphant achievements in instrumental drama, melody and counterpoint. The first movement can be heard very much in the vein of Don Giovanni, characterised by three distinctly prevailing themes: first, the opening music – strong, imperial and subtly militaristic (perhaps a reflection on the ongoing Austro-Turkish struggles); second, a more tender, lyrical theme sounded by the violins and woodwinds; and third, a humorous violin melody in which Mozart self-quotes from his comic aria, Il bacio di mano (A Kiss of the Hand). The development section of the opening movement, imitative in nature, foretells of the spectacular counterpoint to come in the finale.

The second movement takes on the guise of a Sarabande – an old (possibly 16th-century) Spanish dance, betrayed by its slow, triple meter, and possibly reflective of the cosmopolitan side of Mozart’s personality. Lyrical at the outset, this movement soon twists into an agitated working out of its theme, struggling with painful dissonances as it winds back to the more sedate sound of its opening. The third movement returns to Austria – but this time, the dance is a Ländler, a quicker, more spritely folk-dance. 

But, of course – what makes the ‘Jupiter’ symphony so famous is its finale. Here is a movement that epitomizes Mozart’s adoration of J.S. Bach (and is perhaps a culmination of his almost life-long study of Bach’s music). The four-note motif (C-D-F-E) that opens the movement – but that was also heard very brazenly in the third movement – is a common plainchant motif (thought to originate in the Latin hymn, Lucis Creator), and had been in common currency with composers since at least the time of Josquin de Prez’s Missa Pange Lingua. More significantly, it can be found in numerous other works by Mozart, including (perhaps in a bitter case of accidental irony) his very first symphony, from 1764. 

 A fugal texture soon ensues, with up to five different motifs heard sounding at once at any point in the music. To make matters more complicated, Mozart arranges his fugal sections in an overarching ‘sonata’ model, creating a kaleidoscopic musical world in which the rigorous contrapuntal tradition of the late Renaissance and Baroque is fused with the Galant style of the Enlightenment. In this sense, the work came very close to achieving the status of ‘sublime’ – a term that 18th-century philosophers used to define an experience that was simultaneously humbling and uplifting, and most importantly transcended and evaded capture by human media (i.e. words or pictures).

Little did Mozart know that in just 26 years’ time, in 1824, Beethoven would turn the world of instrumental music on its head with his Ninth Symphony – a symphony that would include words, and therefore validate the skepticisms of thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, who had denigrated instrumental genres to the realm of ‘low’ art on the basis that, without words, they were not an adequate vehicle for ideas. Perhaps this explains the enduring popularity of the ‘Jupiter’ symphony – not just in the nineteenth century, but also today.


Watch Toby direct Cambridge University Sinfonia in Stravinsky/Bach Chorale Variations on ‘Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her’ in King’s College Chapel, Saturday 15 June



CUWO Tour 2018 | Montreal and New York

Between 2nd and 11th July 2018, the Cambridge University Wind Orchestra embarked to Canada on our most ambitious tour yet in celebration of our 30th Anniversary. Although based in Montreal, we played five concerts across the cities of Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec, as well as enjoying free time to explore each of the cities. We were also fortunate that the week of our tour fell during the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which gave us the opportunity to watch free evening concerts which were a ten-minute walk away from our hostel.

After a day of rehearsals at St Thomas’ Church in Montreal, the orchestra enjoyed a group evening meal at a burger bar before getting on the coach the next morning to travel to Quebec City for our first concert. The concert, which formed part of Chalmers-Wesley Church’s lunchtime concert series, went down extremely well with the audience, and was followed by a free lunch and walking tour generously provided by the church, allowing us the opportunity to get a real feel for the city in the short time we had there.

The next day was our busiest day of music, with the first of two concerts taking place at a geriatric hospital in Montreal in collaboration with New Horizons Band, an ensemble for local adult beginners. We then travelled the short distance to Mont Royal park for our second concert. A few days before setting off on tour, we had discovered that the concert organisers had moved the location of the concert due to the size of the orchestra, and the new venue gave us incredible views of the sun setting over Montreal as we played to an appreciative audience. Many of the orchestra agreed that this was the most memorable concert location they had ever played at. The concert was ably presented in French by two members of the orchestra to the bilingual crowd.

Friday was a free day for the orchestra, allowing us time to enjoy the hostel hot tub and split into groups to explore the sights and activities that Montreal had to offer, such as the maple syrup shop and an evening light show at Notre-Dame Basilica. Then on Saturday we travelled to Calypso Waterpark to give two hour-long performances. This gave us the opportunity to bring out some of our lighter, crowd pleasing repertoire. In between our performances, we were given free entry to the waterpark, allowing us to cool off in the heat and sunshine.

Sunday was our final full day in Canada, and the day of our final concert. This was a joint performance with Ottawa Wind Ensemble, a group made up of professional and semi-professional musicians, as part of the ‘Music and Beyond’ Festival in Ottawa. This was a fabulous opportunity to hear an experienced ensemble play some unfamiliar repertoire, and we also greatly enjoyed collaborating with them for two joint pieces at the end of the concert. That evening, we travelled back to the hostel for a party to celebrate our final night in Canada, and a collection of presents and tour awards were handed out.

However, this was not the end of the tour! The next morning, we set off early on a coach to New York City, where we had a twenty-four hour stay before our plane flight home. Many people managed to pack an impressive amount of sightseeing into this short period of time, with a real highlight being a pre-planned evening group trip to ‘Top of the Rock’ to watch the sun set over the city.

Huge thanks must go to Marcel Welsh, Joe Curran and especially to Robin Otter, who not only managed the tour without the help of a tour company, but also drove the percussion van to our concerts all week. The tour was a fitting end to a wonderful 30th year of music making for CUWO.

Emily Neve, CUWO President 2018-2019

CUWO tour to Cologne and Rhineland 2017

In the early hours of the 3rd July, Cambridge University Wind Orchestra set off from Newnham for our exciting 2017 tour to Germany! Following a day’s rehearsal at Newnham College to run through our concert repertoire, we embarked on the 12 hour coach journey to Cologne, which was made bearable by movies, card games and CUWO-style a capella renditions of pretty much every noughties classic!

The following day, after a final rehearsal, we travelled to our first concert at the beautiful resort of Bad Kreuznach. Our programme for tour was exciting and varied, consisting of the rousing Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold, Gershwin’s entertaining American in Paris, Bernstein’s emotive and varied Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, London Suite by Eric Coates and finally the captivating Yiddish Dances by Adam Gorb.

The repertoire was challenging and great fun to play, and by the end of the tour, both last year’s CUWO members and deps felt a strong affinity to these fantastic works. In total we played four concerts at venues including St Peter’s Church, Bacharach, the Church of St Aposteln in Cologne and the pretty town square in Linz. In each concert, we were warmed by the welcoming and appreciative reception we relieved from the locals who attended, and it was wonderful to see our music received so enthusiastically.

During the tour we also had the opportunity to explore Cologne and the beautiful surrounding Rhineland area. This included a visit to the fascinating and picturesque castle at Drachenfels, where we were able to gain an insight into the history of the local area and the aristocracy who wielded great power there. We also enjoyed a boat trip down the Rhine, which gave us a lovely view of the river that our concert locations were interspersed along. In addition we had the chance to visit the town of Bonn, the birthplace of Beethoven, where we were over-enthusiastic as always about the traditional CUWO scavenger hunt, which included performing an operetta outside the town theatre and taking selfies with the statue of Beethoven!

Overall, tour this year was a wonderful and varied experience filled with fantastic music and four uplifting concerts, some fun trips and great team spirit and laughs throughout. Every member of the orchestra made this trip such a pleasure to be part of, but in particular we are so thankful to our percussion-moving team and our fantastic coach driver Marc. Most of all we are all so grateful to the tour committee, Ellen, Simon and Joe, whose tireless work and commitment made this brilliant tour possible. We can’t wait to find out where CUWO will go next!

– Surina Fordington is a saxophonist in CUWO


Ben Glassberg, CUMS Alumnus, wins 55th International Besançon Competition for Young Conductors

We are delighted that CUMS alumnus, Ben Glassberg (Conducting Scholar 2013-14), has won all three prizes at the prestigious 55th International Besançon Competition for Young Conductors. After reaching the final round of the competition, Ben won the top prize, as well as the coup de cœur prizes from both the orchestra and the public. 

After completing his Music degree at Girton College, Cambridge, Ben went on the the Royal Academy of Music to study Conducting with Sian Edwards. He made his Glyndebourne conducting debut earlier in the summer as one of the youngest conductors in the Festival’s history. In the 2017/18 season Ben will work with Kammerakademie Potsdam in both symphonic concerts and in a new production of  Cosi fan Tutte as part of the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg.  He will assist Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and returns to work with Antonello Manacorda at the Theater an der Wien on a new production A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Damiano Michieletto. 

CUMS looks forward to following Ben on what promises to be a very exciting career ahead! 


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
Artistic Advisor
Sian Edwards
Director, Cambridge University Symphony Chorus
Richard Wilberforce
Director, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
Martin Ennis
Associate Directors, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
David Lowe, Nicholas Mulroy